Friday, March 26, 2010

The 1st Day of Spring! March 20th, 2010

It seems almost surreal to be documenting a wonderful nature walk from last weekend...while snow falls outside the window!!! It's less than a week later! But OH! Last weekend was a winner!

As mentioned in the previous 2 posts, we'd made plans for a full-on Ponkapoag walk for Saturday, the first day of Spring. Weather reports said the temps might reach the 70s, so we KNEW we'd get some March herping done!

With the heavy rains that had fallen in the previous week, we didn't know how much flooding we'd see, but we knew the salamaders would be up and rarin' to go!

Once there, we discovered the flooding situation wasn't so bad... a few wet walkways and some running streams were the only signs of the heavy rain.

About 15 minutes into the walk, Andrea made the first herp catch of the year! A lovely (and large!) redback salamander!

We reached the dam and saw that there was no serious flooding on either side. Looks like that new dam is doing its job! The small pond that lies just before it was teeming with green frog tadpoles (I think), which look a little something like this:
Green Frog tadpole

Two 'phibs!! Already worth the trip! But what was that laying there next to the dam??? A good sized water snake was basking!
I admit that I wimped out and used my snake stick to catch this guy. He struck at me with a carnation-pink mouth but didn't manage to connect. Like a pussy, I held him gently behind the neck.

Well... snakes in March?? We were very pumped now!! Even the geese were psyched!

Andrea found the first garter snake... a beautiful one with reddish-orange sides. We couldn't catch her for close-ups.

We did, however, start seeing tons of garters shortly after that! We're thinking a den might have been nearby! All of these guys were from 12-16" and on the hunt. My thoughts are that these youngsters were out a bit early to get some chow before the competition gets too stiff.

We didn't forget that we'd come to look for salamanders, so we flipped a few more logs...

Taking a break next to one of the running streams that might not be there later in the season...

One lovely thing about herping in March is the lack of ticks and golfers! (The course has not yet opened.) This helped me perfect my "snake lunge"! Of course, without many leaves, I could see through the foliage and spot them through the prickers, which I stupidly lunged through... successfully!

This little fella was teeing up on the golf course, but didn't have opposable thumbs (or any thumbs), so he couldn't hold the golf club.

This guys favorite band is Thunderhole...

We found more redbacks...

and snakes, one of whom made itself comfortable in Andrea's sleeve...

She fell in love with that one...

My true goal for 2010, as lofty as it might be, is to get a picture of a snake hanging from my nose. None of these guys were bitey... until this little guy!

As threatening as he tried to be, he just wouldn't connect!
garter strike

Eventually, he got really mellow and just lay there in my hand... I didn't even have to hold onto him!
An interesting thing about this picture... the scars in his ventral area... the scars are about 2" apart, like a small mammal's bite. We're thinking a predator had him and he musked. His vent was right between the scars! Yeech!

That was our last herp, but we did see this Question Mark Butterfly on the trek back!
No Mysterions were around.

Well, we were toast by the end of this 6 hour plus romp, but it was a happy exhaustion! We never dreamed we'd see over a dozen snakes and catch about 8 of them (and March musk is way less gaggable than later in the year). The redbacks numbered in the dozens as well.

And today, March 26th... it's flippin' snowing.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't have written a better post myself! :D