Monday, August 29, 2011

New York Snake of Mind Aug. 19, 20, & 21st, 2011

We were visiting my family in good ol' Rome NY, a city that I worked diligently to escape many years ago. Dead smack in the center of the state, it's very beautiful and was very snakeriffic in my youth. Turns out, it still is!

Now, my father is a huge ophidiophobe. That said, it was downright heroic of him to point me to some places where he'd seen (and run screaming from) snakes! Very brave was he!

Well, the stone wall in front of his house seemed like a good place to start. Under a rock was this gorgeous Garter Snake with reddish highlights!
The red didn't translate on camera very well, but you can see it a bit. I used to catch reddish Garters all of the time when I was a kid. This guy reminded me that I haven't ever seen one in Massachusetts. Interesting...

Near a neighbor's pond (still very close to my Dad's house) was this behemoth!!!
Man... we're lucky to have survived this beast!

This Millipede was almost bigger!

Also near (and in) that pond were...
A 2-Lined Salamander!

A Bull Frog

And loads of Pickerel Frogs that escaped our camera...

On Day 2 (Saturday, the 20th) we went to Boukville, a gigantic Antique show. Upon returning, we still had a little steam. We stopped at my sister's house to drop her and her husband off and behind her garage, in the garden, was this FATTY FAT FAT gravid Garter Snake!!
She took exception to the name-calling...

Back at my father's place, we sprayed down and looked around some more. The red guy from the day before was nestled up under a rock where we'd released him...

One of his neighbor's pond's resident Bullfrogs was poking its head up...

Andrea found herself with a post-Howlett-family car ride headache and excused herself to rest for a bit. Normally, I couldn't herp without her, but I was sprayed down and it was just too exciting to herp in a new spot that has so much potential! So shoot me!

I checked out a stone wall that ran along the edge of another neighbor's yard and found this Ready-To-Shed Garter! I only had my crappy little pocket camera, so these are as good as I got...
This guy will be a stunner when the shed is done!

There is a small brook that runs next to the property. I lifted a flat rock that was about 6 feet from the brook and... a Water Snake!! Under a rock!! In my excitement, I dropped my crappy camera as I grabbed for the snake. I couldn't get it to work as he, like Water Snakes do, bit the hell out of me. So, I walked back to the house, put my snake-hand under my shirt (thankfully, he'd stopped biting by now) and went in to get Andrea's camera. Here's what he looked like!
Check out my ring finger on the last shot... that's where he was nibblin'.

OK, after that, I was tired and retired for a quick nap myself!

We left for home that Sunday morning at about 10AM. We'd hoped to stop and check out my sister's house on the way out, as she'd said she'd seen many Green Snakes as well as Garters. It was raining, though. But then, it's only water so we stopped and checked out her koi pond, land of many serpents. I mean, just look at it!

So nuff, rain didn't matter... first up was another reddish Garter!

Andrea was happily photographing this one while I found 2 other Garters... one was definitely more of an asshole than the other. Keep you eye on the more yellowey one...

We added the first guy to the mix for the famous "fistfull of snake" photo...
But that didn't stop Chompey. (I love how the other snake looks embarrassed here...)

OK... I put them back. You win, Chompy.

Next up? A Dekay's Snake!
Andrea was in a groove, getting some awesome shots!

A Green Frog made himself known in the pond...

Then, a newborn Dekay's!

Then I lifted some sod and a belly was hanging down! Another Dekay's!

It was very tough to get a fistfull of snake shot with these two, so we opted for a fingers-full-of-snake shot instead...

The little guy crawled back into his home...

That's all we got, though we were rooting around in my sister's garage where handfulls of Garters have been known to hang out. I rustled one up and he crawled towards Andrea who got him, but just by the tip of the tail and he swung away. If only I could show the vision that I saw... Andrea in the dark, silhouetted against the light outside with a nice Garter in her hand. Oh well.

Needless to say, it was a fun weekend!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

8-18-2011- LBS update

We were having a quick visit with our friends Snag and Kate and, as usual, they were kind enough to let us flip a few rocks on our way out. If you recall the very end of this post, we had what we thought was a very pregnant Dekay's Snake. Well, lookie what we found! A newborn!

This lil' fella was barely more than 3"!!

It's interesting to note that young Dekay's are darker and their neck has a bit of a ring on it. At first glance, I thought I had a Ringneck. So tiny was he, that I couldn't pick him up alone... I needed Andrea to scoop under his chin and grab him. There was just no body to grab!!

Further along the wall was a cute and normal sized Dekay's.

Man, I wish this was our yard!! Luckily, we have such awesome friends that we can look around whenever we want!!! Thanks, Snag and Kate!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who put the Ponk?! 8-13-2011

Sometimes, you just gotta go to your favorite spots. Ponkapoag Pond is ours. We know the main trail by heart and there are many wonderful species of herps to be found!

We decided going in that we would explore some of the less familiar off-shoot trails since many of our nature walks this year have been marathons. Ponk usually takes roughly 4 1/2 hours. We could spare more.

True to 2011, our first sight was an American Toad! Here, Miss Andrea displays the proper way for a laydee to hold a toad.

It was nice to see a Painted Turtle basking close enough where we could get some good pictures! Each photo looked sillier than the last!

Andrea found this Northern Water Snake tooling around.
He was decent sized and had some lovely red saddles. He stayed just out of reach so we couldn't wrangle him in for close-ups. No matter... Andrea got some great shots!

Not far away, this Bullfrog was hangin' out, chillin' on a Saturday afternoon...

So was this fishie...

During the dog days of summer, one tends to forget about the Redback Salamanders. There were a few hangin' loose.

We hadn't gone down the boardwalk through the bog in a while... I don't think we did at all last year. So, we took a stroll. I'm happy to say that they fixed it up and there weren't any underwater planks!

Our first Bog herp was this Pickerel Frog... our frog in a bog!

We also saw a thin Garter Snake and more Pickerel Frogs in the bog, but were unable to get pictures.

First thing out of the bog, we saw another Pickerel! I managed to grab him for close-ups! (Though it wasn't easy!)

While I was wrangling the frog, Andrea was finding this partially devoured Stinkhorn. These dick-shrooms are a new one on me.
Somebody has been eating the STINKHORN!!

I checked my watch and saw that it was Redback O'Clock!!!
Redback O'clock

We saw another Garter that eluded our camera. We took an off-shoot trail that we had always enticed us, but he hadn't tried. We found this MONSTER SNAKE there!!!!!!
This wee Garter Snake couldn't have been more than a day or old! The funny thing is, when I bent down to pick him up, he stopped and struck at me!! Feisty little devil! All noggin and vinegar!

Hey look! Another Redback!

We got to our favorite stone wall, where we've seen Garters, Milks, and Ringnecks before. Who was here this time? An opera singing Ribbon Snake!!
The hiiiillls are alive with the Sound of Music!
He was going blue, starting to go into a shed and was a tad unhappy to be picked up. A little girl was looking at him and asked if she could hold him. I warned her that he was cantankerous. She assured me that she was good with snakes (she named a few kinds she had seen in her long, seven years or so of life...). I handed the Ribbon over to her and she held it for a while. It calmed down and practically slept in her hands. The Snake Whisperer 2!

This Cormorant watched in disbelief, from a distance.

I got hungry and reached for a pretzel, but it was in fact a Garter Snake!
Pretzel Snake!
This fella came out of nowhere when I was rolling a log. He must have been under some leaves where I was perched.
He got pretty cozy in the original snake whisperer's hands...
He was so comfy that I suggested that we put him down on the log for a real nature shot. We did and he did a back-flip off and slithered away. I gave him a 9.6, the Swedish Judge gave him a 9.4.

Ah, Ponk... how I love thee! 5 1/2 hours of herptastic goodness!