Friday, April 27, 2012

Speed Herping! 4-20-2012

It was the weekend of the Boston Comic Con and I was going to be busy both Saturday and Sunday. After getting back from the venue at 6 PM Friday night, Andrea and I decided to check out our friend's yard in hopes of seeing a Dekays or a redback... something to hold us over until our next herp trip!

My friend Jason had his wheelbarrow out. Just the place to keep the Dekay's Snakes that Andrea and I found simultaneously in different rock piles! (Mine is the little blur!)

Then  we found another! DSCN4286
And another!

Four Dekays make a great bouquet!
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This whole thing started and ended within 10 minutes.

Let's see some individual shots! DSCN4289 DSCN4288 DSCN4310

Thank goodness for good friends who let you peek at their stone walls! Thanks, guys!!


I borrowed a ladder from them yesterday, Thursday 4/26. It was cool out, but I flipped anyway... I just can't help myself. There was a small Dekays that I put into my hat and wore home (while carrying the ladder) so I could show him to Andrea while she bathed. DSCF1968

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All hail phony holidays! 4-16-2012 Boyden Refuge

It's taken me some time to compose this little entry and for that, I apologize deeply.

Anyhoo- Monday was Patriot's Day, a phony holiday made up for the city of Boston! It's the day that the Boston Marathon is run as well so, if you're not running in it, it's a very good idea to stay away from town!

We decided to hit Boyden for that reason and because it was going to be in the 80s and seemed like a good temperature to check it out! So yeah... our fourth herping day straight, and we got there nice and early, after a 50's Diner breakfast. In my quest to not eat tortured-chicken omelettes, I opted for a stack of pancakes. Note to self... good idea! I wasn't hungry for hours!

Our first herp was a lovely Garter Snake that Andrea named Jesus (hey-soos), though we can't remember why.

Like many of the Garters we've been seeing this year, it was docile to the point of playing dead!
Playing dead? No-just lazy! DSCN4209 DSCN4215 DSCN4216
Very photogenic was he!

Andrea was holding him in two hands and decided to try something... if she moved one hand away, would he stay in position?

OK, funtime with placid snakes was over and we had to get serious and find other animals! Like a Painted Turtle!

and a Redback!

I heard a whoosh and saw a skinny lil Garter go by. He was a bit out of reach, so I steadied myself on a branch that promptly gave way under my titanic weight! BUT... I caught the snake! (And kept my eye stick-free!)
Check out this guys belly! Dark and mottled! Now THAT'S different! (As you can see, this guy too mellowed out enough that we didn't have to restrain him...) DSCN4230

A little further down the trail, I moved towards a rapidly drying puddle when, from behind me, I heard Andrea say "hey"! It seems I'd walked right past a Garter Snake! She swooped it up! A beauty!
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She didn't even get musked! Again... the Garter calmed way down.

Andrea took some nice close-ups after releasing him...
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As the day went on, the heat rose quite a bit.

Our usual turtle stacks weren't as full (despite some boaters who had claimed there were "thousands"!) One Painted was holding his own against the Canadian Goose invasion!

A few more Redbacks were about...

The last thing we saw at Boyden was impossible to photograph.
Andrea flipped a heavy trashed car door and up popped a decent sized Black Racer right into her face. The door was too heavy to hold up for long and she couldn't get the camera ready one handed, so she called "Racer" in time for me to see him bolting off, into some thorny SATANIC RIGHTS OF DRACULA type trees. I got another look at him as he passed into another thorny cluster.

We did our best but could not locate him.

A bit further down the trail, I saw a Racer cobra-ing up from the other side of a rock. I gave hopeless chase. It was probably the same one, which can be determined to be about 3 1/2 feet... bigger than earlier thought.

Oh well. Ice cream cures everything, so we got some cones after we left, then went down the road to Oliver Mills Park, in hopes of spotting a Northern Water Snake.

We didn't see any snakes (it was pretty human-heavy at 3 PM) but the River Herring were there in huge numbers, doing what they do best... spawning!
River Herring DSCN4270
It's hard as hell to photograph these guys, but it was fun to watch them.

 To end our day, a Green Frog said hey and bid us a fond farewell.

 4 days straight. We did it because we knew we wouldn't get to herp the following weekend (Boston Comic Con). And we couldn't be happier with our finds!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 15th- Day 3 at Ponk!

Despite having gone out the night before, we were up and ready to herp and pulled in to the Ponkapoag parking lot by 11 AM. Later than planned but still not bad.

We started off with a Redback, which is often the case... This one is a sexy redhead!

Then a Pickerel Frog.

On the way to the dam, a Garter Snake streaked away from me. Oh no! Not again! I couldn't find him anywhere. No photo...

Our favorite vernal pond was still viable, despite the dryness of the season. Some Wood Frogs were enjoying themselves in it.

The eggs weren't there anymore... as we were wondering what happened to them, we noticed tiny movements. There were bunches of tiny tadpoles, Green Frogs? Wood Frogs?
Green Frog tadpole

Walking out from the vernal pond, another Garter streaked past. No photo...

I took my usual side along the dam, but there were many hornets about, so I couldn't get TOO into it. Andrea, on the pond side, was having great luck with turtles! Like this Spotted Turtle!

and these two Painteds (one in mid-hoist!)

A wee micro-Painted!

Meanwhile, I had seen a very small Ribbon Snake, much like the one from Cutler the day before, disappear into a clump of grass. Of course, I got no photo. This was shaping up to be another humiliating day!! At least the snakes were up and about, even if I couldn't get any shots!

Andrea had found a Bullfrog...

and possibly the most beautiful Spotted Turtle I've ever seen!

I did manage to film my finger while recording some Spring Peepers who were calling in the pond!

Another hiker told us that up ahead there was a huge Bullfrog. He was right!

This wee Painted (about 3" long) was cowering nearby. He would have been but an appetizer for that frog!

I finally redeemed myself while flipping for Redbacks... a lovely (almost reddish?) Garter Snake was coiled under a log. He put on quite a display!
(This is his impression of a bookmark!)

He calmed right down and was another candidate to handle without actually holding...

A couple walked by and a woman (whose accent I couldn't identify) was charmed and fascinated by the lil fella and held him... her first snake ever! I mean, who COULDN'T be charmed by this face?!

Green Frog!

At a spot that always SEEMS like a great spot, but hasn't really produced much over the years, I found our first Ringneck of the year!
Beautiful bright orange belly and gun-metal blue-slate on top!

Andrea followed up with the next one! A more yellowy belly, to match her kit!
A lighter back as well...

Guess what our next snake was? A Ringneck!! Andrea also got this one for closer inspection...
This one was nearly black on the back!

As we made our way down the trail, feeling better about our over .500 average, and wondering why we use so many baseball analogies, I pointed to Andrea's feet and said "photo"...

This guy was in cobra pose, doing his yoga for us...

After taking pics, we tried to catch him for close-ups. Andrea made a valiant effort, just missing while I got him by the tail. I got a musking for my efforts but he, again, calmed down and behaved nicely for the camera.

We released him and he went on his merry way.

On the way out, we noticed that while water has been scarce in Massachusetts this spring, where it WAS flowing, things were very beautiful!

This Bull Frog bid us adieu as we headed to the car.

Three days straight! Awesome weekend! With Monday off, could we... dare we... go for 4 herp trips straight? (We did. Sorry to spoil the next post.)