Monday, September 10, 2012

A 21 Snapper Salute! Boyden 9-9-2012

One thing we like besides herping (though not nearly as much) is looking for vintage crap to surround ourselves with. So, a couple of times a year, we go to the Brimfield Show... dealer after dealer of antiques, vintage clothes, ephemera and junk. We hate to waste a herp day to go, but what are you gonna do? Well, we could peek in wet areas around the show! That's how we found this Bullfrog! He was a brute, too!

So, the next day, Sunday, we had been planning on another Timber Rattlesnake hide and seek hike in the Blue Hills. We're narrowing down the possible den sites but decided at the last minute to call it off, as it was very overcast and cool... definitely NOT Timber weather. Plus, we need to rethink a few routes. So, it was late when we said "Let's do Boyden! Who cares if it's cool and wet"?

Well, we got there pretty late... about 11 AM. It was still very cool and overcast. We decided that any snakes we might find would be hiding under stuff and turtles would be tough because it just wasn't basking weather. Our first "find" was sad, but encouraging...
Deceased juvenile Water Snake
This dead juvenile Water Snake was up by the house... in 5 years, we have never seen a Water Snake here, though we're sure they must be here! Is this proof? Or did a bird drop it here from somewhere else? Why was it so far from the water? To be honest, we started wondering if it was a juvie Racer, which we've seen here. But it appears to be a Water Snake.

OK... let's wipe that depressing photo out of our eyes with this feisty little Garter Snake!!
This little fella was sporting a new set of clothes and was quite a cutie! He was indeed found by flipping a rock.

Our old friend the dark American Toad was where he usually is, so we put him on a new background for today's sitting...

Here's another, much smaller American...

Later, a few feet off the path, I saw this Garter between some bushes...
Due to the angle and distance, I decided to try to pin him with my stick for Andrea to grab from the other side. No need... he didn't budge when I pinned him. Horrified, I quickly scooped him up to see if he weas alive!!
He was! Just fairly cool! He warmed up quickly in our hands.

The cooler weather is good for one thing... Redbacks!
Check out this little guy peeking!

Know what this is? A hugely fat American Toad. That's what!

This one is not so huge...

So, then the day got very interesting.

Walking toward the river, Andrea alerted me to look down. We saw one of our most wished-for sights! A turtle (a Snapper) hoisting itself out of it's nest... taking it's first look at the world!
Welcome to the world!

Here's his first step!
First step!

We were so psyched, we almost didn't see the other hatchling right next to my knee!
Note the "2" I drew in the sand... I had no idea what was coming!

This area of Boyden has tons of dug up turtle nests. We figure the skunks and raccoons are always ransacking the nests and eating the eggs and hatchlings. We're always hopeful that some of the holes with egg shells strewn around are from successful nests, but I'm afraid they aren't. Especially having seen what a successful nest hole looks like!

So... We decided to help this clutch get a head start! I gently dug in and felt in the chamber of loose sand for soft-feeling rocks. Bingo- a few tiny turtles!
And a few more!

I wasn't sure if these guys were alive or what- they were just little turtle-shaped sand balls!
We eventually pulled out twenty hatchlings!!! I only found one dud egg in the whole nest! They all started walking every which way, mostly towards the river, which was about 20 feet away and across a path. With the aid of a couple of hikers that we just had to share the cuteness with, we gave the babies a helping hand across the path and closer to the water.

We put some of them right on the shore while we corralled others towards a puddle a few feet away from water's edge. Right away they started going in!
Getting close!

The puddle became a flurry of activity for those not yet ready for the river...

This guy's first dip into the water! (Nice shot, Andrea!)

This guy was less graceful...

"They'll never see me under this leaf!"


We had to tear ourselves away. We figured that we'd helped them thus far, but now they had to make it on their own. We were also eager to check out other areas of known turtle nests.

With our new knowledge of what exactly a successful nest looks like, we were able to spot more recent hatching spots that appeared to go well. Here's a double-door one!
2 doors

Here's an empty nest... I hope they all made it safely!

So, we were flipping stuff looking for wayward snaplings (thanks to Steve Banes for the new word!) and I was taken by surprise by a fairly large Garter Snake! Oh yeah, they're here too!
In all of the excitement, I almost forgot about our fine no-legged friends!
A classic Garter!

I saw a butt-shaped mushroom growing out of a piece of discarded carpet and thought it was pretty interesting. A toad jumped out from under the carpet, so I tried to pose him on the 'shroom, but to no avail. He'd have none of it. A Redback was also under the rug, and he posed nicely! So, I tried again with the toad and Andrea snapped this magnificent shot, with that durn toad's legs fully extended in a jump!
This could be the picture I laughed hardest at... ever!

Just another small toad, only finally a Fowler's! (Slightly spotted belly though... hmmmm...)

Look at how beautifully this Green Frog is posing! (I cropped out my fingers holding onto his legs...)

OK, Andrea saw a snake tail disappear into a bush right at river's edge. I went through that thing thoroughly for quite some time and came up empty. Was this an elusive Boyden Water Snake?

Even more curious was this skin I found below the waterfall, stuck to a branch underwater...
Even accounting for being waterlogged, which might expand it a bit, this fucker was 48 inches and didn't even have the head on it!! Keeled scales, thick belly scales... sure looks Water Snakish to me! We started looking at that area with new eyes, but came up empty.

There were no turtles up basking, even though the sun was desperately trying to come through. I can't imagine why!
Oh, those basking spots look a bit busy...

Hey look! A nice Leadback!

We got to a spot where we have to cross a stream (precariously at times... just 4 small stepping stones) and where we have seen Green Frogs before. Today, someone special was laying atop a stone in the stream... Number 21!
He was sitting there, lord and overseer of his kingdom!
He probably got into the stream and went with the current until he hit this snag and ended up liking the chance to breathe for a moment!

There was also a Green Frog present, just to keep me from being a liar...

On the way out, just 10 feet from the path, not even completely covered by foliage, there was a small concrete building we've never seen!!
In 5 years of coming here and taking those paths, we'd never seen it. Man, talk about having snake-vision!

We stopped by the snapling puddle on the way out to check on our new friends. It was empty and only these tell tale tail-trails remained...
All that's left is tail trails!

We went a bit further past our regular turn-off in hopes of seeing some Painteds basking, now that the sun had finally come out (a little). Score! We photographed two basking turtles and never noticed the guy on the far right until we uploaded these pics!

Just a check on our dark Toad friend on the way to the car...
Yep- he's OK!

So, man... what a day! It's hard to express the feelings you get when nature is happening right in front of you... and right in your hands! We feel so privileged to have been there when we were. And to think, we thought we were too late for anything!


  1. NO COMMENTS??? One of our best days EVAH and no comments???? WTF is WRONG with people?

    1. Errrr... nobody really reads this except us! Give the few that do a break!