I visited Chillicothe, Ohio, last Monday evening, to deliver a presentation to the Scioto Valley Bird & Nature Club. It's always a treat to visit this city, which is steeped in Ohio history. Chillicothe was our first capital, and then after a brief peregrination to Zanesville for two years, it again served as capital for about five more years. In 1816 the legislature voted to shift the capital north to Columbus, my hometown, and for better or worse it's been the same ever since.
Chillicothe's home county of Ross is incredibly biodiverse. The Appalachian foothills taper out into the glaciated plains to the west here, meaning that there is lots of topographic variation. Interesting habitats abound, and after the talk to the club, several us went out for a nocturnal prowl at Buzzard's Roost Preserve. This sprawling 1,200 acre woodland lies along Paint Creek just west of Chillicothe, and I've never failed to find interesting subjects there.
As always, it was a treat to visit the club, and catch up with people I've known a long time but don't often get to see. After all was said and done, Kelly Williams, Joe Letsche, Michelle Ward, Debbie and Gary McFadden, Tiffany Pritchard, Lisa Ratcliff, Brandan Gray and yours truly made the short trip over to the "Roost" (apologies if I'm forgetting anyone!). It was the best nocturnal foray I've had in a while; we found piles of interesting animals. The caterpillars were over the top, and perhaps I'll get around to sharing some of them. For now, though, I will confine my bloviations to one of our coolest serpents.
This animal was found in just about exactly the same type of situation that the rest of the ones that I've seen have been in - head-high tangles of dense growth, in this case scrubby black locust and grapevines.
Thanks to Joe for guiding us into Buzzard's Roost after dark, and to everyone else who came along and helped spot many interesting creatures.