Thursday, July 26, 2012

A herp trip lands us a... herper! Cutler 7-22-2012

Late start, still waiting for my Granddaughter's arrival... sticking close to home. Let's do Cutler!!

We didn't get there until after 9AM, which pretty much erases hopes of Racers... even though it is said that they can tolerate higher temps, I have never noticed them to hang out once the sun gets really hot! We set out into the woods!

One surprise was an early Garter Snake, found in a new place for us here!
He got very comfy very fast!
He tried some trapeze stunts with Andrea's watch band!

This Mockingbird posed nicely for us...

Next up, we were at Racer Alley and we saw a guy poking around some bushes. I called out, "looking for Racers?" He was! In fact it was our pal Steve from New England Herps (whose excellent website is here:! We had a great chat and exchanged herping tips! Sadly, neither he nor we had any luck with Racers on this day!

Once we sweated our way through the length or Racer Alley, we hit the "other side" and saw this fine American Toad!
Not that is a fine figure of a toad!

A puddle on the path had a Green Frog soaking in it!

A flipped log produced a very welcome find... a Wood Frog!
We just haven't been seeing many of them this year!

This stunning Viceroy butterfly stopped and posed for us! The camera proved how awesome it is with this one!

We saw a snake speeding through the woods away from the path... Andrea correctly ID'd it as a Ribbon Snake! I gave chase, nearly had him and then... he disappeared. DAMN!! He was a beauty too... about 16" to 18" long and clean and shiny! And fast. Better luck next time.

We did, however, find an old friend of ours... Bitey the Ringneck!
In a way, it's gratifying to find a repeat snake; you know that the last two weeks have been kind to them. This is the guy we removed from the bike-ramp, so we feel great that he didn't get squished. He also learned to show the bling!!!

Andrea went elsewhere for a moment and I flipped a couple of places near Bitey's home. All of a sudden my ankle was on fire! I looked down and there was a yellow jacket body on my shoe!! The fucker had stung me on my ankle!! It hurt like hell and I ran around screaming like a child!! But shit- that hurt!!

So, impaired, we flipped a few more things while my ankle throbbed away. We were lucky enough to find this fine young Eft!

But, pussy that I am, I said we should head back. (Well, this did happen at the mid-way point... we'd have turned back anyway!) But man, that was a shitty walk back! Mikey-poo had an owey.

I eventually stopped whining. Today, 4 days later, it's just itchy and barely achey. Sadly, my ankle only swelled a bit... not like the footballs I'd get when I was a kid!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There's always room for surprises! Great Meadows 7-21-2012

While we're on alert for my daughter's call saying she's ready to give birth, we're trying to keep our herp shoes on during weekends. But we don't really want to stray far. We figured we'd head over to Great Meadows to see some turtles. Surely there would be plenty of distant basking that we could capture on the fancy new camera!

Or not.

The temperature was pleasant, but there wasn't the expected abundance of turtles up and about! The first thing we saw,  however, was this young Northern Water Snake! Check out the interesting belly on this guy!!
Interesting belly!
His skin also acted like it was ready to shed. This guy will be a beauty!

Of course, Great Meadows is a birder's paradise! We decided we like birders because they're serious and quiet. We joined in on some birding ourselves! Some ducks! Who knew they had such formidable teeth?!
Luckily, this was only a yawn.

This shot has a couple of Egrets and a couple of Herons in it!
No surprise turtles that I can see, though...

Here's Andrea's award winning shot of a Great Blue Heron!

And her side-view of a dragonfly!

Back to herps, this Water Snake was having a rest some 15 feet off shore! Thank you, Mr. Zoom Lens!

Nearby were some basking Painted Turtles (finally!)

This guy was teeny... maybe a 3" carapice!

We flipped a log and saw what I thought was a Pickerel Frog, who (like most Pickerel's this year) handed me my ass! I searched all over for him and couldn't find him. "Damn Pickerel" was my mantra for the next 2 hours. My friend and fellow herper Steve (hi Steve!) mentioned the next day that there has been Leopard Frogs at Great Meadows. A need-it herp for us. It certainly was a vivid green. Damn- best not to think about it.

We did corral this lively young Green Frog, though!

Hey! Here's another Painted noggin!

So, we decided to climb the view-tower there before we left. The scene looked like this:

We had seen a Muskrat cutting through this area, so we kept our eyes peeled. I saw what I thought was a shell (this was about 50 yards away) and took a photo. There sure enough was a shell (mid-photo) but when we uploaded it, we saw that there were plenty of Bullfrogs in there too! 6 in this shot! (Numbered for your convenience)

Another shot revealed another turtle head had shot up... it didn't look like a Painted!

Another shot, another new noggin- this time it's definitely a Painted!

I like surprise herps! It didn't seem like there was much going on here on this day... until we really looked!

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Camera try-out! Forest Hills Cemetery- 7/20/2012

OK, since the old camera bit the dust and Beast Buy was unable to fix it, we got to go pick out a new one! The sales associates at Beast Buy were the Best! They got us a great new one with all of the bells and whistles! But could we figure out how to use it properly? Let's find out!

I picked up Andrea at the train and we headed over to the Forest Hills Cemetery pond in hopes of testing out that 42X Zoom on some basking turtles. There weren't any, but weird beauty was all around!

We were scaring Bullfrogs into the pond by accident, but finally got to photograph a few...

Then we saw a Snapping Turtle noggin break the surface. This guy put a show on for us! I'll let the pictures do the talking...
open sesame

This Bullfrog didn't seem to mind, but we backed up a bit! (There is a second Bullfrog noggin on the right lower edge of the pic...)

This is my size 12 shoe in the foreground to let you know how big this guy was!
My size 12 for comparison

We let him carry on his Snapping Turtle ways and went off to photograph some more Bullfrogs.

So yeah- the camera works!! This little test-run was great, thanks to a massive chelonian, some brave anurans and some pleasant weather! Now, we were ready for a real nature walk!