Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 28th! All Out Toad ORGY in Windsor Mass!

Get your wah-wah guitars out and play along to these horny devils! We've got a nasty, X-rated, adults only post this time!!

It all began innocently enough... we went to the Mass Sheep and Wool Fest in Cummington... oh... I see. Yes. There was some foreshadowing there...

We had planned on going to the Windsor State Forest after, like we had done a few times in the past. We had seen many herps there before... Garters, Efts, and always plenty of toads. We'd even planned on camping there one year, just to get some extra herping in, but it fell through. Being 3 hours away from home, this is always a special trip.

I'd said one the way "I hope nobody else is there"! I got my wish. It seems the campground and parking area had fallen victim to budget cuts last year and the place was abandoned. Oh well... we parked across the street and snuck in, unsure if we were really trespassing or not, but assuming we weren't.

We decided to herp quickly, just in case. I moved to a couple of palettes that were lying near some bushes and flipped the top one...3 Red Efts were under it!!
It was a warm day and they got pretty cantankerous pretty fast!

So, already we were happy!

While photographing the Efts, a Wood Frog jumped by... I caught him to photograph...

Andrea somehow saw and caught a teeny Spring Peeper!

We saw an American Toad, who acted like he was missing out on something... I wonder what it was?!

Most of the Redbacks we saw were quick in the warm weather, but these guys stayed still long enough for a pic...
(A lovely coppery guy!)

Down closer to the river (the Westfield River), I found a toad that was buzzing in my hand like a cell phone on vibrate! The sound that we'd heard and wondered what it was seemed to be toads!

Andrea said... "look! Frog Porn!" She was photographing a couple in amplexus! We were very excited to be able to photograph this amazing event!

I got nearer the water and saw another couple... and another!! There were dozens and dozens of toads doin' it! There were guys aggressively forcing their way into threesomes and foursomes! Legs and warts were flailing everywhere!! Let's just sit back and enjoy some pornography, shall we?
(Wrapped up in strings of toad eggs!)
(A four-stack!)
DSCN1262("What about me?")
Eggs galore!

*Whew*... I need a cigarette!

While Andrea was pervertedly photographing the toad porn, I moved down a bit (there were still copulating toads, but less after a waterfall), I flipped an underwater rock and found this Two-Lined Salamander larvae...

Then I found another Eft. 6 efts in a day??? Unheard of!

We decided to look around the abandoned campground before we took off and were rewarded with a lovely Two-Lined Salamander!

No reptiles, but 7 different kinds of amphibians! Boy Howdy, that was a good trip!

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 27th, 2011... After Work Special

With the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, Andrea suspected that she'd be getting out of work early, so if she did, we were going to plan a late afternoon stroll through Hoar.

She did. So we did!

We pulled in at about 5PM. We realized that we'd never been there on a truly warm day, so this was new for us! Would it be too warm for sallies? Let's see!

Our first herp was a VERY active American Toad, who displayed an extremely spotty belly and enjoyed flailing around!

He soon settled and decided that hanging limply was his best defense!

Redbacks were at a minimum, as they often are when the temps get higher, and when we did see them, they had some good speed, making them difficult to photograph! This guy was a tad slower...

We got to one of our favorite parts of Hoar, a lovely pond/ stream, and were greeted by the sound of a detuned banjo string getting plucked... the Green Frogs were calling! There were quite a few!
(Feel free to use this pic for future Valentines cards!)


Then, cruising down the stream like the Hoar Ness Monster was a large Muskrat!! Very cool indeed!

There was a painted turtle mucking about under some duck weed, but he eluded our cameras! The bastard!

As we moved forward, we started wondering if we were going to see Hoar's signature herp... the Spotted Salamander...

We did! A pretty big guy, too!

Being warm, even the spotty was pretty active!

We added in a nice Leadback
and a small toad...

and headed home... very happy with our quick (hour and a half) excursion into nature. But it should be added... it was a buggy as fuck!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

5-25-2011- Nature through the window

Just as I was posting the last entry, I was hearing some lively bird chatter outside of my window. Our cat Gibson was all atwitter, too. I looked out and saw a fledgling Robin on a branch, with his head cocked skyward, looking at an adult Robin who was singing from a post some 10 feet above.

Fledgling Robin

I do believe it was a flying lesson in the works. This lasted for roughly 15 minutes until something scared off the adult, leaving the youngster alone.

The fledgling tried spreading out his little wings, stretching them. He didn't have much in the way of tail feather. He hopped along the branch a bit. He flapped his "wings" and "flew" a few inches along the same branch.

Andrea and I were watching and HOPING that he was going to get the hang of it, as dusk was setting in quickly.

After 5 or 10 minutes... all of a sudden, he took off... possibly for the first time ever! After a slew of false starts, he flew, about 15 feet up into the tree, probably to his nest!

This drama was amazing to watch. We're so happy for him that he made it back before darkness! And before the next train went by!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Herpy Birthday! 5-21-2011

The weather had sucked it BAD for a week... cold and rainy; not a ray of sun to be found. We had written off any hopes of herping over the weekend. My birthday was on Saturday and I've always wanted to catch a snake on my birthday, but the forecast was not on my side.

We went to an art exhibit with some good friends in the morning and were surprised by blue skies and... *gasp*... sun! So we made plans to spend the latter part of the afternoon in Allendale! (Because it's close and time was a concern.)

Walking home from the train station, Andrea showed me a Morning Dove nest that is always occupied by a parent. It still was!

We got home and changed and headed over to the woods. Just inside, we saw some caterpillars chowing down on a leaf.

Not 20 feet onto the trail, I saw Andrea scrambling and grabbing a handful of leaves... with a Garter Snake in it! Her first snake catch of 2011!

We put him down, but he still wanted to pose because he was so beautiful...

Further up the trail, I heard some rustling and found a chubby American Toad hopping along... our first of the year!

We got to a favorite part of the woods... a place with lots of old housing debris laying around and I saw this...

So I got to catch a snake on my birthday! He had some blood (?) on his mouth which makes me think he'd recently eaten. We handled him gently.
Excellent checkerboards on this guy!

Flipping also produced some Redbacks...

And a mouse!

At the pond, there were many turtles out basking, though very far away...

There were also some HUMUNGOUS Bullfrogs, including this bruiser!

Over near a spillway, we flipped and found our first Northern Two-Lined Salamander of the year!
Two-Lined Salamander
I'm not sure he enjoyed being held like this, but it helped with the ID!

Andrea could see some red reflecting in the water in the distance and zoomed in to find this... a newly hoisted Painted Turtle butt!

We were having fun and good luck, so we took the long way out and managed to find the swampy area that we hadn't seen in a while. Because of all of the recent rain, it was very pondy! This Bullfrog was posing beautifully...

I was looking at other Bullfrogs and I heard a commotion at my feet. I looked down and there was a small Garter Snake striking at me repeatedly! It was pretty funny! I gave him every opportunity to connect, but he settled down once we started handling him...
He actually tried to poke his way underneath Andrea's watchstrap!

We were on a trail side flipping when another hiker came by and pointed out a Lady Slipper up off the trail. We hadn't seen it at all!
It's funny what you miss. We were zeroed in on herps and she spotted that flower at 30 paces!

We found one more Two-Lined on the way out...
Northern 2-lined Salamander

I call that a pretty darn fun couple of hours! A great birthday was had!