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!


  1. I didn't think the Lady Slipper shot had come out, but I'm glad it did.

    I'm amazed at how the shot of the caterpillars came out.

  2. Yeah- it's a beautiful shot! Too bad they're such destructive animals!