Saturday, June 23, 2018

Home Away from Home. 6-17-2018

We had afternoon plans this sunny Sunday so we chose a nearby hike that we've been enjoying for over a decade. 4 1/2 miles around a lovely pond in Norfolk County. We got there early enough but apparently enjoyed ourselves so much that we were too late to make our afternoon plans. Oh well... this is what detained us.

After a brisk walk through the woods, we reached the open dam area which is usually a place to find Water Snakes and turtles. Sure enough, floating in the vegetation on the pond's edge, we spied our first Painted Turtles.

Further along the dam, I was dawdling along the rocks on the edge looking for Nerodia while Andrea, about 20 feet away, declared that she'd found a Spotted Turtle.
Is there one in there?
Sure is! And another!
And another!
She'd found the Spotted Turtle Hot Spot ®!

Hey... you're not a Spottie!

These were all fairly small, mid-sized specimens and it was pure joy to be able to watch them just be turtles for a while.

Meanwhile, we never noticed this small Water Snake at our feet.

Further along the dam, Andrea spotted another Spotted, though it depahted before a better photo could be plotted.

I'm enjoying my new camera quite a lot. Even Gypsy Moth caterpillars look wonderful under its scrutiny.
Gypsy Moth caterpillar

This place (and yes, I realize pretty much everyone knows where we are, but I don't name places anymore) is blessed with a wonderful bog area and that was our next portion of the hike. A large Garter swished off and out of sight right away but the next one, a large female, sat there for some photos.

It just wouldn't be a walk through the bog without a look at the carnivorous plants present... Pitcher Plants and the Sundew. You can see the Sundew has caught a mosquito.

The next mile or so was pleasant but we saw no new animals to photograph. The Hobo Camp, however, got us a beautiful Ringneck under a rock.

Back to the edge on the pond, I waded out a bit to cool off while Andrea sat on the shore.

She felt as though she was being watched...
Garter eyes were upon her.

It was a week before the swimming/ camping area would open so we had free reign of the rock walls and dock area. This worked out well. A nestled Garter...

A pond-side Ringer...

This large Water Snake was up near the wall and darted to the water (very impressively). I procured her for a voucher shot.
Then she sat on the deck pondering what the forthcoming summer holds for her before slipping into the drink.

We ended the day with one more Ringneck, another beauty.

This place, as populated with humans as it sometimes is, remains a favorite spot. The animals have figured out how to coexist and the natural beauty hasn't changed much in the decade plus that we've been coming here.

But hey, where were the frogs?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Makin' Time. June 15 and 16, 2018

With a busy weekend planned, we had to find time to squish in a few quick hikes. On Friday evening, it was still pleasant at 7 PM so we went over to a nearby spot in Norfolk County; our usual after work place. It was still in the 70s and the shadows were getting long. Andrea wasted no time and found a (full) decent sized lady Garter laying in the leaves.
Gorgeous.. orange blush on her cheeks and enough musk to sink a ship. Andrea wiped her hands on my shirt.

The man-children like to build bike ramps and tool around on the dirt paths, screaming "Weee! Wook at meee! I'm a big boy!" The local American Toads have learned how to utilize this cover without getting squished. The top one seems to be waiting for his chance for revenge.

We hiked the length of (formerly known as) Racer Alley, enjoying the evening breeze. Andrea flipped a thin piece of tar paper and this little Garter was snoozing under it, along with a pretty spider.
The Garter never even knew we were there.

The following morning, we tried to get out of the house early. We were going to a friend's party in the early afternoon and figured we'd hit some local spots before heading over. Our destination was a Norfolk County place by the bay where we've seen Garters, Greens and DeKay's. We saw a beautiful Garter right away, though getting a photo wasn't too easy.

Likewise with the next few...

Andrea was able to flip a couple of small Garters for up-close viewing.
No Greens or Dekes but these few sirtalis specimens made us happy.

On the way back through town, we decided to stop by the pond in our local cemetery to see if any turtles were up. The sun was shining bright and the temps were into the 80s. Right away, we saw three Painted Turtles.
Here's a closer look at that fella on the left, doing his Rick Wakeman impression.

Some goslings were swimming about being cute.

A couple of distant Painters.

Sadly, this pond is the dumping ground for unwanted pet turtles so there are a few Red-eared Sliders living here. I love them... they are resilient and they give a hearty "fuck you" to the haters. Long live Red-ears. This guy is showing humans where to kiss him.

A swimming Painter...

There were loads of large Bullfrog tadpoles skimming about through the water. I finally got a shot of one... he's just about ready to come ashore!

The adult Bullfrogs in this pond are massive. This guy was enormous.

We were watching the frogs when this pretty Red-ear drifted out towards the deep end.
Don't let those vivid markings fool you... this guy was big, probably 9 or 10 inches long.

This one, further out, was small. That just means it was released more recently.
I wish him well.

We were over on the "opposite" side of the pond and were surprised to see one of our old friends coming up to see if we had a snack.
We didn't recognize this one; it's smaller than the usual beggars and it didn't get too close. Still, it's wonderful to see Snappers up close.

Over in one corner, there were plenty of humongous Bullfrogs, including some remarkably pretty ones.

Another angle of the silly basking Red-ear.

I saw a Painter on a distant log walking along it at a pretty good clip. I like the shot I got... high-steppin' turtle.

This Bull was the size of a small dog.
This one might have been even bigger...

Our last animal of the trip was this happy Painter, just hanging out in the sun.

We were quite happy with our findings and then went to watch a trash triple feature of films with our friends, making this a very good day.