Friday, October 8, 2010

THIS is why we love Ponkapoag!! Sept. 19th 2010

Hot on the heels of a Spotty-centric Saturday, we headed for the hills... the Blue Hills. Ponkapoag, to be specific.

Our first herp sighting was just before the dam... a massive Bullfrog. With no size reference, it's tough to describe but this guy is a BRUISER!

A bit further on, Andrea spotted this smaller Bullfrog, decked out in his funkiest jammies.

A bit further down the dam, Andrea yelled out "Water"! A ran over (I was working the opposite side of the dam) and got there just as a black tail was slipping between some rocks. I grabbed it and held on, trying to coax the snake back. I could see a little noggin peeking out a few stones up and tried to clear some space but he backed up. We wrestled for about 3 minutes and I was decidedly losing the tug of war. I didn't want to damage a scale or anything so I freed him, with only this picture to show for it...
Near catch of a water snake

I had a little better luck further down the dam with this Garter Snake!

He was full of piss and vinegar (but not musk, as he'd sprayed me pretty well) and seemed to enjoy the taste of my finger!

I asked Andrea if she wanted to hold him and she said "nah- I'd rather get bitten by my own catch". Prophetic words indeed.

This youthful Painted Turtle was blending in nicely with his surroundings, but one little movement caught Andrea's eye and she got this shot!
Painted turtle

This Green Frog was also enjoying the dam.

We decided to go the whole way around as Andrea's tendons were feeling OK and the day was lovely! So... we found our old reliable friends the Redback...

And the red squirrel...
(Check out this guy's racing stripe...)

A little further on, Andrea yelled out "Milk"! Man, she was having the luck today!
She pulled up this little beauty!

Remember how she'd rather get bitten by her own snake? Blurry pix, but hilarious!
Andrea gets tagged!

Feisty yes, and such a beauty!

A little bit of flipping also turned up a lovely Ringneck snake!

We've been told that water snakes have been seen along the dock area so we gave it a closer inspection... nope, this wasn't a Water Snake...
(More like a Pickerel Frog!)

But these skins were under the dock so I believe the stories...

Then things got weird...

The pond was very low due to the dry weather that we'd been having. Therefore, there was plenty of "beach" to walk along. I was poking around looking for water snakes and Andrea squeaked... "Redback... walking"! Now, we see dozens of Redbacks on most of our nature walks, but they're always nestled under rocks and logs. This guy was walking tall along the beach!! Towards the water!
Redback on the beach

And he didn't stop when he got to the water! He took a dunk and swam a bit (undulating side to side, as one might expect) and came back to the shore!
Redback taking a swim

Then, he disappeared into some wet leaves on the shore. Weird.

Walking back towards the car, I saw a garter near the trail. I pointed him out to Andrea, who didn't see him. I nudged him with my snake stick to show her and he didn't move. (I expected him to take off.) So I bent down and picked him up. He was feisty to a degree...

But I realized that only his front half was feisty and his back half lay limply in my hands...

He was digesting a meal so he wasn't so impaired that he couldn't hunt but his back 2/3rds were definitely just hanging there. I put him down to watch him crawl and sure enough, his back 2/3rds dragged behind...
Bum tail

Injured or not (there were no open wounds visible) he was an alert and good looking specimen (on the front at least!) and when we left him, he was eyeing a Pickerel Frog that had jumped within a few inches of his head.
Long green noggin

Quite a day! I was nice to see a few different species of snakes for a change! On the final stretch of the walk, we heard a cooing in the bushes and saw this young 'un sitting there... Not sure what it is, but it's cute! (The esteemed Jef C. Taylor says what we gots here is a cat bird! Thanks Jef!)

Ponkapoag, sometimes I wonder why we bother walking on other trails... This one is just perfect!


  1. Great trip! Your bird looks to be a catbird.
    Love the bite shots, and the swimming salamander! I hope this isn't the last herp trip of the year.

  2. We had one other 2 weeks ago and are hoping to squeeze in a few trips in Oct, but it's such a busy month!!

    Catbird... thanks! I'll update!

  3. I had forgotten all about the salamander! One of the coolest things (I had never seen one do that before), and I forgot!

    Of course, I did not forget that milk snake. He was a beauty, and has put milk snakes very high on my list of my favorite snakes.