Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 21st and 22nd... let's herp!

It seems odd writing about herp trips on a cold 45 degree Sunday in late March, but it was a very nice week! We knew it wouldn't last forever, so we tried to squeeze in some after-work-quickie-hikes™.

On Wednesday, I picked Andrea up at the train station and we headed to Forest Hills Cemetery, which has a pond that is usually turtle-riffic! It was!

The first guys we saw were some basking Painted Turtles. Not bad for almost 6PM!

We've seen Red Eared Sliders here before (Kids, don't release your unwanted pets into the wild!) and I'm pretty sure these two were that species.
I wish we had the light in our favor and so we could have gotten a better snap...

There were a few just-under-the-water™ disturbances that we found out were being made by active Snapping Turtles. We just couldn't get a shot...

That is until eagle-eye-Andrea™ spotted this guy right under the surface near the shore! We got some good shots... the second, with flash, shows his coloration a bit.
Snapper head

Andrea spotted a small cave made by an overturned tree on the opposite shore. Photographing it, she noticed a little noggin in the water under it... was this the Bullfrog we heard calling?

There were many avians present as well..

The world's sexiest bird, the Grackle!
Here's an upskirts shot for the pervs out there...

A Red-Winged Blackbird, who took off just as Andrea snapped this... making a very cool shot!
Their call is among my favorites!

A Robin!

A Junco!

And a loving Mallard couple!

So, with herp success under our belts, we headed home. But... but... it was dusk! Dusk is always the best time to search our friends Kate and Snag's yard for Dekays! Soooo... one detour!

Their daffodils greeted us first!

Some Redbacks were also about!

Then, persistence paid off and Andrea caught our first snake of 2012... a wee Dekay's Snake!

Not bad for March 21st!!!

The following day was supposed to be in the mid to high 70's!! I'd hoped Andrea could get out of work early, but no dice. I decided to brave the wilds of Allendale Woods alone. It turns out that it was worth it!

I got there at about 4:15PM, tired from work but knowing that the fine weather wouldn't last forever.

Again, some Redbacks made me feel welcome! Man, I love these guys! Here's one spooning a slug! (Hey- I don't judge!)

Are those turtles over yonder on a log???
Nope- another loving Mallard couple!

But, unseen by my naked eye, another log held a chelonian treasure.... gotta love the zoom lens!
This Painted was only about 3 or 4 inches long!

Plus, I saw a fish! I became obsessed with trying to get a good picture of it. I didn't. This is the best I could muster...

Leaving the pond, I headed back on to the trail and almost immediately I heard a "whoosh" of leaves. I looked and saw some fleeting movement. Could it be a snake? I flipped the log near where this whooshing took place... yep! A Garter coil was there! It looked bluish in the shadows, but no... he was a fine looking stripey bastard!

He was cantankerous as hell, twisting around twigs and being way too interested in the camera lens for me to get good pictures!

Elated, I went on to the swampier pond which, with no foliage blocking it, I realized is really close!

This Bullfrog was hanging out. Man, the slime is out of control here. Pollution sucks. Poor anurans...

They have recently built a tennis court for the Old Folks Home nearby and I could see some black tarp so I went to peek under it a bit, hoping for another snake. Nope. It was home to a lovely American Toad, who was burrowed in nicely!

On the way out, a Redback summoned me and asked me to take his Christmas card picture. I complied.

Then, lastly, I saw this stunning, speckly Leadback!

Nice hour and a half, though I wish Andrea had been with me.

And now, on the weekend, we're having more seasonable weather. Which is to say it sucks out. Oh well... it was a great week!

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 thus far...

We have had a very mild winter. Today is the last full day of Winter, so it's a good time to get up to date. That, and we saw out first herps yesterday!

Mild is an understatement for some of this past winter! We've been wondering how the weather will affect the time-tables and habits of the hibernating herps...

On March 8th, the temps were going to be in the mid-60s. I had the day off from work, so I thought I'd get a bit of exercise and take a quick hike through Allendale. I took a very short one, only about an hour, and saw nothing.

My pal, Ryan Gilmore, did the same thing and came up with a GORGEOUS Northern Water Snake in Andover Mass! He happily shared his pic with us!
water snake
(By the way, it attempted to bite AND musk but missed with both!)

Andrea and I took a stroll though Hoar Sanctuary that Sunday (the 11th) and again we saw nothing. Andrea's shoes aggravated her Achilles, so we got the new shoe experiment done with early. It was a failure.

The next day, Monday the 12th, I went to my friend's yard to inspect their stone wall. Home to Dekay's snakes and redbacks, it yielded nothing. Boo!

Weather reports were calling for an incredibly mild Sunday (the 18th) but I had already committed myself to helping out a friend, working for him at his record show. Plus, my financial situation demanded it. BUT, I suggested that Andrea take a hike and look for herps in my absence... you just can't pass up a great day!

She did, and took a stroll half way around Ponkapoag Pond with our friend Lisa Griffith. Here is what they saw:

First herp of 2012... a Wood Frog in the vernal pond!
First Herp of 2012- Green Frog!

The pond also had clumps of eggs! Did that lil gal just lay 'em?

After the dam (no snakes...) Andrea found the first Redback of the year! Lisa looked on happily!
1st catch of 2012- Redback Salamander

A mini-leadback was up, too!

One of each!

They made it to the bog boardwalk and headed in... this Bull Frog awaited them!

This guy was keeping an eye on the two...

A successful trip!

I got home at about 4:30, ragged and tired. My first thought (after seeing the pictures and hearing about the hike) as to go up to visit Snag and Kate's backyard! No Dekays up yet but...

My first Redback of 2012!
Mike's first herp of 2012

And some more the two of us found:
(Andrea had been doing some cleaning when I got home, thus the zombie-hands!)

I'm happy with our Winter herps! It's supposed to be nice this week... maybe I'll stop somewhere and see if any turtles or snakes are up yet!