- noun: A gathering of individuals sharing enthusiasm for a special subject or interest.
Bill & Kathy Love have been involved in many aspects of the reptile hobby and industry since the early 1970s, and we've found our accumulated knowledge being tapped more and more often in recent years as guest speakers. We meet fellow enthusiasts everyday online, through letters and email, and at herp shows and meetings. Many of them ask our advice with various herp-oriented problems. This led us to come up with the idea of ReptileRally - an intensive day of interactive 'herping' on our property covering the three main areas in which we're most experienced.
The basic plan is for rally participants to meet at our country home at 9:00 am. The day will start with a short tour of our home, much of which is devoted to a herpetological library and related artwork from our travels. Shortly afterward, we'll enter the Florida 'bush' for a leisurely 3/4-mile stroll along a winding trail that traverses our 20-acre property. Our land stretches from dense, shady live oak and sabal palm / palmetto forest at the north end to high, open, sandy scrub woods at the southern end (that continues far beyond in a natural state).
Wildlife abounds in such mixed habitats, but can remain frustratingly hidden from sight. This is where Bill has taken the initiative in setting up many dozens of artificial cover piles using a wide assortment of materials that seasoned fieldherpers know is effective at attracting herps to shelter under.
A huge 'black albino' corn snake discovered under a sheet of roofing tin set out to provide refuge for snakes.
You will get to check all of them over the course of the walk, seeing firsthand which kinds of 'sets' work best, and why. Three decades of field experience has gone into arranging these sets to maximize their appeal to herps, and double as great teaching examples of how you can create similar refugia -- the rough equivalent of putting up birdhouses.
A young yellow rat snake sheltering in a tree 'trap' that's really more like a birdhouse with free access in and out.
'AC' (= 'artificial cover') laid out properly can benefit wild herps because if only checked occasionally, they serve as long-term shelters that keep on working long after they've been abandoned and forgotten.
Large scarlet king snake in a layered cardboard stack.
In addition, two drift fences will be activated several days prior to each ReptileRally to demonstrate how researchers sample wildlife using trapping techniques. These nearly always produce results! We'll pause for some field photography with any specimens we find before liberating them.
Around noon, we'll break for lunch back at the house. Kathy will have a tray of assorted meats, breads, condiments, fruits, snacks, and cold drinks to please all appetites.
After lunch, we'll feed the tortoise colony, and also whatever's lurking in the pond out back. Numerous aquatic turtles abound there. Occasional alligators too, though we discourage them from the feeding dock.
Then we'll assemble at our main outbuilding where our herps are housed. Bill will bring half the group into his photo studio for a hands-on photography session. He'll show you how to arrange naturalistic sets to make herps look natural and photogenic. You'll be able to witness first-hand how to calm nervous subjects, manage props to show off specimens at their best, and generally record interest-arousing images that will make you proud to show them off.
Posing a glass lizard on a non-photo blue background.
Bill's 3+ decades of refining his photography techniques will be imparted to you in abundance during this intensely focused 'class'. At least one 'exciting' captive specimen will be taken outdoors for a taste of working your camera outside too - a decidedly different approach compared to the indoors setting.
Meanwhile, Kathy will have the rest of the group assisting her in the room housing our adult snake colony. She'll help everyone learn how to sex juvenile and adult snakes, set up cages, judge adult snakes' health in anticipation of breeding, introduce potential mates and induce them to breed, set up nest boxes for females, handle eggs, set up hatchlings, label cages with genetic information, note breeding records, etc.
Every aspect of the herpetocultural process will be reviewed. You'll also get a mini crash course in maintaining a small colony of mice and rats - something we've also done for 3+ decades by incorporating a few simple steps to make it a relatively hassle-free system.
Then Bill & Kathy will switch groups and let them see what the others just experienced. Everyone gets to do everything!
Depending on time, you'll also get a glimpse at processing digital images (photo editing) in Bill & Kathy's office, and see how they manage their websites from home too.
Questions from rally members about anything we've covered over the whole day (or any other herp-related subject for that matter) will be answered as best as we're able at any time during the rally.
ReptileRally will conclude in the afternoon before dinner time; it will depend on the size of the group and its interests. For those interested in extending the experience, for a small additional fee, we welcome all rally participants to stay for a barbeque dinner and PowerPoint slideshow afterward. The discussions about all things herpetological may run well into the evening depending on the interest. We're night owls and love to chat as long as anyone wants to stay. Bill will also show you on road maps where to aim your explorations if further Florida fieldherping is in your plans in the days after the Rally.
TELEPHONES: (239) 691 - 4414 or (239) 728 - 2390
EMAILS: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
HOME: www.ReptileRally.com www.BlueChameleon.org www.CornUtopia.com www.BillLovePhotography.com