Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quick! Before the battery (and Summer) runs out! 9-26-2009

We'd heard the weather forecast... high of 65 and sunny for Saturday. Sounded good enough to walk around Ponkapoag Pond, in what might be a last chance at herps for the year. The cold comes quickly in New England and we hate it. Come February, we'll be glad we made the effort.

Unfortunately, we noticed pretty much right away that our camera's battery was dying. We could only photograph necessary animals. That said, we saw our usual fill of late season red-backs (though they weren't as plentiful or robust as last week's sallys in Taunton!)

Along the dam, I walked the rocky side, hoping to see someone warming themselves among the rocks. The sun was hitting it nicely. Sure enough, there was a small (roughly 16"), dullish garter snake visible, but safe within the rocks. I made a feeble attempt to catch him, but he scooted deeper into the dam. I got a finger on him but never really had a chance.

It was cool, so we saw no other reptiles and just a few frogs; Leopard Frogs bounded by a few times.

On the other side (after the golf course) we flipped a log and found only our second spotted salamander of the year! (See June 7- Allandale Woods) This was a small one, but we were very glad to see him! I tried to keep the LBMs in the picture.

We got to the campsites and flipped through the wall. Pretty vacant except for one rock. We flipped it and saw a ringneck in such a perfect little coil that it looked like a cookie. A double-stuffed Halloween Oreo, to be precise. Andrea picked him up and we took his portrait.

I noticed that a large flat rock was moveable so I asked Andrea to look under it as I lifted. I was probably about 60-70 pounds, so lifting it was a chore. I lifted it and asked "anything?" She said, "Yes, medium milk snake".

She grabbed, he retreated. As Maxwell Smart would say, "missed him by that much".

Andrea has now joined the ranks of the hardened snake catchers of the world. On the walk back, she was cursing herself and saying "if only there wasn't that slight hesitation"... like I do when I miss one. She now has a goal... to not get fooled again by a squamate. Meet the new snake, same as the old snake.

OK, sorry. I got off track. But I'm happy that we went out, saw snakes and a spotted and got Andrea jazzed up to catch snakes. Let's hope that there is at least one more snake for us this year!

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