Thursday, September 8, 2011

9-3-2011 What abandoned house?

I had suggested Boyden Refuge in Taunton to my friend/ herptile-guru Gabe as a place to find Milk Snakes. He went and said "surprisingly, there was nothing near the abandoned house". Huh? What abandoned house? He said "the one near the parking area".

OK, we've been going there for 4 years and I'd always thought it was a caretaker's house or something! We'd always wished we could poke around it but didn't want to trespass. We specially planned this trip to Boyden just to see the house. Umm... we went up close to poke around...

Yep... pretty abandoned. Oops.

I wonder how many snakes we've missed over the years!! Unfortunately, there were none today.

So, we went on out merry way along our well-traveled path, finding a Redback first...

There was some damage from Tropical Storm Irene; some downed trees and piles of branches, but it didn't present us with many challenges.

The night before, we were with friends and one of those very friends, Craig, was describing the beauty of Milk Snakes to another friend, who we'll call Lisa! His words were our good luck charm and we found a Milk in the fragrance garden!
Quite a lovely one, don't you think? (Nippy, though with absolutely no force behind the bites...)

A mom with 5 boy-brat kids saw us with the Milk and so we had to let them touch it and stuff. Then the little monsters took off and started looking for snakes, much to their handler's consternation. One kid, who was less horrific than the other screeching creatures, found a tiny Garter Snake under a piece of tarp... one of my favorite flipping spots. The bastard. We photographed it in his hands because unlike the other little whelps, he knew how to handle it.

I shooed them off and we got back to herping. Luckily, another portion of tarp was hiding another baby Garter! There much have been a recent batch o' baby Garters!

We were happy to see some Painted Turtles sunning themselves in a spot that has been shell-free much of this year! Maybe, these are the two hatchlings that we moved near here last year in this post! My, how they've grown!!

This lovely, orangey American Toad hopped across the path...

Not far off the path, near Toad Hollow, a big Garter Snake was regarding us. He gave me quite a race and a small nip, but he wasn't as ornery as he looked.
He'd blown himself all up and flattened his head. He was roughly 30"! Biggest Garter this year, so far!

Next, Andrea did the impossible and not only saw, but CAUGHT a Spring Peeper!
I wish I was quick enough with the camera, because he jumped from her hand to her boob to her shoulder before settling on this leaf, giving us a great nature shot!

Over by the car graveyard, we were noticing many excavated turtle egg nests, like we usually do. We were wondering if any were from hatchlings or if the egg-shell litter was all from predation. At any rate, an excavation ditch seemed like a good place to corral some Toads (2 American and the darker one is a Fowlers) for a photo-op!

Another Fowler's stopped by to thank me for not including him in the wacky ditch shot.
Fowler's Toad!

One of our favorite things about Boyden is the varied habitat. Right next to this sandy area is the river, where other herps were hanging out! Like a small Bullfrog!
And a Pickerel Frog!

Further upriver, there were some Painted Turtles basking amid a family of preening swans!
While a nice, big stack in the distance looked on...

Back to a non-sandy wooded part, where we'd hoped to see some more snakes, a Wood Frog jumped across the path!

We got to the appliance graveyard and started flipping carpet remains, where we'd found a few snakes before. You never know what will turn up in this completely artificial but always utilized habitat! Like Redbacks!

We saw more turtle egg shells around and more excavated nests, which prompted Andrea to wonder aloud "Do any turtles actually hatch in this environment? Or do they all get eaten or something?"

Guess what was under one of the carpet pieces? The answer to her question!
She'd found a Spotted Turtle hatchling, a species we'd never encountered at Boyden before! This guy was so new to the world, that he still had the egg-sack umbilical spot on his plastron...
and his egg-tooth!

Needless to say, we fell in love with him!
Unsure of whether or not to play god, we moved him a bit closer to a nearby water source and placed him in some moist leaves. Hopefully, things will work out for him!

On the way out, elated from this lil' chelonian friend, we flipped a bit and found another spunky young Garter Snake!

Nice trip, eh?!

So, we got some lunch and went down Rt. 44 into Middleboro, where a very cool place is... Oliver Mill Park or, as I like to call it, the Blind Dead place!

There are stone ruins of old industrial mills still standing there, which looks cool enough, but it's on the Nemasket River and most people's photos of the place include at least one Water Snake!

Look at how cool this place is!

We poked around a bit, even as overgrown as it was. (It was also after 5+ hours in Boyden and late afternoon.) We figured that Water Snakes would be out of the question. Then Andrea saw this in a wall by the water...
Good eyes, huh?!

So, like any intrepid idiot, I tried to extricate him from the wall for a better look.
But it was a losing tug-of-war... he was good sized and I only had about 8 inches of his body. He, as the kids say, kicked my ass!

But we will be going back there. We're told there are many turtles and water snakes, and I believe it! I'd also like to see the River Herring run, which is an event that happens here!

My hands are tired. This is a long post.


  1. Oh, that baby turtle! So cute! My grandma has peepers on the land behind her house (used to be an 18-acre pig farm w/ a pond my grandpa... built? created? encouraged into being?... that is now grown over). I have never seen one, so thank you for the photo! I do love the sound of them.

  2. I'm with you, Darx! I love their ... errr... peeping! Very hard to find, though, because they're so tiny!!