Friday, August 31, 2012

An embarrassment of Snapping riches 8-26-2012

Running late in getting to Cutler is nothing new to us, even though it's only about 15 minutes away. I guess I figure that, since it's so close, I can dawdle and drag my feet. I really shouldn't. It's the early herper who gets the Racers.,

So, we got there about a half hour later than we'd hoped to (about 8:30AM). As usual, we walked quickly to get to Racer alley as soon as possible. The sun was already high and hot, so we figured we'd be too late again. There were some Beginning of the End type grasshoppers about, though...

About half way down Racer Alley, with no Racers in sight, Andrea bent down and scooped up this lil guy!
A very active (and photogenic) hatchling Common Snapping Turtle!
We took oodles of photos of him, so charming he was!

Andrea released him (off of the trail) and I said "I doubt we'll see anything cuter than that today!"

Andrea replied, "What about this?"

We started to peek ahead in the trail... a third!!

Wow!! This Praying Mantis stopped to applaud our good fortune!

Can I interest you in #4? Only missing the Gamera jet-packs here!

#5 was a handsome devil!

By the time we came upon #6-
-we realized this was turning into a very special hike!

#7 had some 'tude!

# 8

was soon joined by #9...

while #10 was walking along...

I think this is 9 and 10, but I'm not positive... I just like the picture!

This is definitely #11!

I looked up the path and was greeted by a smattering of snappers! Here is #11, 12, 13 and 14!!

So, we had reached the end of Racer Alley (having completely forgotten about Racers!) and had moved 14 hatchling Snapping Turtles off of the path (which has joggers and bikes on it) and into safety! We caught our breath and headed back, unsure if we'd see more (or repeats!) or if it was just a matter of very good timing.

We did see two more... #15 and 16, but the path was pretty clear for the rest of the way.

This was all along about 1/4 mile of path. They could have been from any number of nests. Who knows how many we couldn't see in the high grass and vegetation!! One thing is for sure... they all smelled swampy (or smelling of egg?) and many of them still had their egg-teeth.

We got off of Racer Alley and into the woods, where it was much cooler. We still kept our eyes on the path though. I did manage to peek up once and saw a very clean Garter Snake! The Paul's Gradfather of Garter Snakes!

He was pretty mellow too, to put it mildly...

We saw a quick and difficult to photograph Leadback, too!

And an Eft!

Andrea picked up a piece of tar paper and said an Eft tumbled out, which started me signing "You got to ro-o-oll me, roll me the tumblin' efts" for a while. It looked like this.
And smelled funny, but held my glasses in place nicely.

So, we didn't see any more snapper babies on the way out, but warned all of the cyclists we saw to be very careful. We didn't see any turtle casualties but did see a dead Ringneck on the path. Such a shame... he was fairly large for a Ringneck... about 12" long.

So that was a bit of a downer way to end a wonderful trip. But we're still very happy with our many cute Snappers!! I hope we helped some of them get a good head start and get on their way to getting big and healthy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The things you learn in Borderland... 8-25-2012

Since Borderland got rained out the previous week, we were all excited to get there nice and early on this pleasant Saturday. Well, more like by 8:30. When we pulled in, we noticed many balloons and signs... there was a charity run going on. I applaud folks who do this, so I couldn't gripe about the runners speeding past us as we looked for herps.

Still, they weren't running in the water, so the first things we saw were a couple of massive Bullfrogs!
Both of these guys were the size of Cornish Game Hens.

We saw this hoppy American Toad soon after...

Next up, we saw a Pickerel that looked a bit odd... Andrea made sure to get a pic before he disappeared, which he did.
Leopard Frog! Yay! It's about time!

A few more toads turned up...
This guy was puffing his throat for Andrea... I think he kinda liked her...

Redbacks are still mostly in hiding, but not this guy!

I had this guy on my arm... I thought it might be a Walking Stick nymph but artist/ great guy/ theremin player/ insect-victim Steve Blickenstaff informed me that it's a nymph Assassin Bug!

The things one learns...

Howza 'bout a fairly large Green Frog?

And some basking Painted Turtles!

All this time and no snakes! Wait... what was that little commotion under the water there... keep watching... oop! It's a Water Snake noggin!

I was actually able to coax him into reach with the snake stick and grabbed him for close-ups!
Pretty decent sized and a real sweetheart... no nips or musk!

We went over to our place of triumph from the last trip here and saw no snakes. As we sat there, Andrea said "if we just sit here long enough, I bet a snake will show up." The sentence was barely out of her mouth when... a snake showed up!
He slithered over the concrete partition and started slowly swimming downstream.

His bright reds had me very interested in getting a closer look so I went to a clearing in the stream and positioned myself. I could see him coming right at me. It was very cute. To make a baseball analogy, I had the ball and was waiting for him as he tried to steal home! He came right into my hands! He gave a quick nip to my finger and musked a bit, but then calmed down nicely.
Look at those reds!!

Well, we were very happy and we started to leave. I said "Wouldn't a Garter make this trip awesome?" I was a few yards ahead when I heard Andrea say. "G- holy shi- OWWWW!" I turned around and saw this:
She had found two feisty, bitey Garters half buried in leaves and made the Two-Fisted Garter Grab™! She then began to display her lasso talents!

She let me hold them! It looked like a Medic Alert sign gone awry!

"Ha-cha-cha-cha-cha- I got a million of 'em"

So, like before, Borderland helped us make a memorable exit! Both of us were laughing about our snake blossoms and were eager to triple-wash our musk-infested hands!

It should be noted that this whole trip was done while we were both sick... probably with Bronchitis! We be hard core! *pumps fist*