Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 7 -- Allandale Woods

On Sunday, after my knitting group met and we had a little lunch, we decided to go on a hike in Allandale Woods. Access to it is a little odd (there's a foot trail entrance behind a church, and I think there is another entrance on the street), and it appears the woods are a popular drinking spot after dark, but it's proven to be a good place to see snakes in the past (well, we saw one garter snake the size of a shoelace two years ago).

We were walking down the path, and all of a sudden I felt something soft under my foot. I moved my foot before stepping down all the way, and looked down. I saw a toad, on its back, right where my foot had been.

"OH MY GOD!!! OH MY GOD!!!" I nearly started crying. "I JUST STEPPED ON A TOAD!" I thought for sure I had killed it. Thankfully, my instincts had told me not to step down all the way, and the toad did right itself and seemed to be doing okay.


After a bit of searching, some near-trespassing (the woods abut people's backyards), and dogs barking at us, we finally found what we were looking for: the remains of what must have been an old farm or estate.



Mike found the first snake, in between two big slabs of marble. Yes, there are slabs of marble and old marble pillars in these woods.


Homeboy was about to shed -- see how blue his eyes are? He musked a little bit, and I thought for sure he was going to try to bite, but he calmed down. I held him for a little bit, took a couple of photos, and put him back to his hiding place.

We went on to where we've been successful in the past -- the ruins of an old house.


Look at that thing!!! Imagine the danger! The side of it is close to coming down:


And there is stuff growing in between the cracks:


I'll be honest -- as a little kid, I would have been all over this stuff had I found it. My mom would have screamed at me about any rusty nails (tetanus) and about the danger, and she probably still would. Thankfully, my mom does not have the internet so she doesn't have to know.

We found nothing there.

As I said, there are some amazing things left in those woods though:



As I was taking the above photos, Mike was rooting around lifting things. He yelled, "Come over here, quick! I just found the biggest spotted I've ever seen!"

It was quite a large spotted salamander:


It's hard to show size in a photo, so I used my Borders Rewards card for something other than getting a good discount:


I also didn't want to touch him too much with my hands, considering (1) I'm not sure of their protected status in Mass., and (2) I had sprayed myself down with insect repellant. Amphibians, and especially salamanders, have pretty senstive skin, and I was afraid of getting some on him.

It gives you a good idea of the size:



It's great that there is such a robust speciman of a spotted salamander here. Allandale Woods is, technically, in the city of Boston even if physically the area is more of a suburb. There are some wetlands and vernal pools in the woods, and the Arboretum is close by, so obviously those are being used to breed in. I had never seen a spotted salamander in the wild before last year, and I'm 40 years old now. I thought they were in Western Mass., maybe, but have discovered them in the Blue Hills (near Ponkapoag) and here in Allandale Woods as well.

Mike went on to play in some old shingles on the other side of the rusty old tractor frame. He got up quite happy:


Two little garter snakes, in the same catch!


He then found a third one, roughly the same size as the other two (shoelaced size!) and we got a photo of a handful of snakes:


The smallest one, the one looking in the opposite direction, is nearing a shed as well. It may be his first! These were pretty small snakes.


I would give Allandale Woods a "full of win" vote on the herping scale. It's a little bit buggy, and there was some herb growing in there that, although it smelled pleasant, it bothered my allergies a bit, but we can probably walk to it from our house and there are almost no people there! It seems so remote, yet it's right off a parkway. Crazy!

1 comment:

  1. I love this new blog. I love the photos. I love that you two are all snakey and whatnot. Love.