By MIKE CORN
The turnout for the summer Kansas Herpetological Society was smaller than normal, but the members participating found what they were looking for: lizards, toads and snakes.
And the members found one of the gems they set out to find, the green toad, a threatened species in Kansas, according to Travis Taggart, associate curator of herpetology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History and co-chairman of the field trip.
Rains ahead of the outing helped settle things down a bit, he said.
"Things went real well," Taggart said, even though only about 35 people showed up.
While nothing new was found during the weekend outing, that's likely the result of the area being thoroughly covered in the past.
Finding green toads, however, provided valuable information.
"That was one of the purposes of the trip," Taggart said.
Several of the toads were found, which lets the herpetology community map where they are located and how they are doing.
The group also found eastern hognose snakes, something that has been more of a southwest Kansas native.
There's also the chance they found the first eastern hognose snake in Colorado.
Taggart said it's always exciting to find the first species in a particular area or state, this one found on the road as a participant was heading to Kansas for the weekend outing.
"Anytime you get a new state record, it's a big deal," he said.
Taggart said he also spent time touring the Larry Haverfield complex where the endangered black-footed ferrets have been released.
"When I was driving around with him, we increased his count by two," he said of the number of prairie rattlesnakes Haverfield has spotted this year.
When the group toured the area, they found rattlesnakes taking advantage of the shade offered by yucca plants. In fact, he said every 15 to 20 yucca plants sheltered a rattlesnake.
Taggart took notice of the health of the snakes on the ranch, which supports prairie dogs -- the primary food for ferrets.
"He has some of the biggest ones I've every seen," Taggart said of the snakes. "A lot of them are longer than average but they're thicker than average too."
The snakes feast on smaller prairie dogs during the summer months.
"It makes them grow fat and healthy," he said.
* The fall field trip will be Sept. 17 at Lovewell in Jewell County.