Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful for Salamanders! 11-23-2012

Ah, and what a lovely Thanksgiving it was this year! We had much to give thanks for! And instead of joining the stupid section of America by participation in a Black Friday fistfight-spendathon, we went herping!

Calling for temps in the mid-50s, we decided on Ponkapoag. Nothing like our old mainstay; a place that we know well and know what to look for! Being post-frost and still cool, we figured we'd have a shot at some Redbacks (the most tenacious of herps!) in the 4+ mile hike!

Sure enough, our first sighting (which also breaks last years lateness record of Nov. 20th) was this fine Redback!
Check out the gorgeous patterning on this fella!

Admittedly, we walked for quite a while after we saw him and didn't see anything else. We got to a spot which is heavily Redbacked on a normal day (and Ringnecked, too... but I wasn't expecting miracles... or frozen snakes!) and I was flipping stones and thinking "that one Redback might well be it for today" when I heard Andrea call... "which are the yellow-bellied ones again? Two-Lines?"

It turns out she'd hit the Two-Lined motherload and had a handful of three crazy ones!
These were her first of the year, too! As you'll recall, I saw some here earlier in the year on my trip with my friend Ryan, but she wasn't there.

Subsequent flipping produced more, but they were too fast to photograph. This guy, however, slipped into the mud and poked his wee head out for this shot!

The best thing about this Two-Lined extravanganza is that is was in a spot that we had never seen this species before!

The other great thing about it is... it seemed to turn the tide; we started finding tons of Redbacks after that!
And Leadbacks!
That's a dime!!


One large rock was hoisted by yours truly and there were 4 Redbacks under it. They scooted away quickly, going into little salamander sized holes. Here's an action shot showing their quick retreat!

All told, we saw well over a dozen Redbacks, with still a mile to go!

The last leg of the journey produced no more herps, but we did find a couple of iridescent earthworms...
Iridescent worm!

So, November 23rd and we can still have productive herp trips. Color me happy! And make that color Red... for Redbacks!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Too early for cabin fever? Nov.17th, 2012

A cold Saturday. A need to herp. Surely 47 degrees isn't too cool to go for a hike?

Well, we're not total idiots; we knew no reptiles would be about. But some Redbacks and possibly some Spotted Salamanders might still be braving the underside of a rock!

So, we headed to Hoar Sanctuary, a place that has been rich in Salamanders for us in the past, though we seemed to pretty much neglect it during the warmer months of 2012.

Sure enough, it was cold, but after a bit of hiking and plenty of flipping, we warmed up. About half way around the short trail, we saw our first Redback! DSCN2856 A robust fella!

We got to a watery area and tried looking for frogs, but there didn't seem to be any. Further along, however, a noggin seemed to be poking up! A Bullfrog! DSCN2861 He was at a terrible angle; I was lucky to get this shot! I tried to get a better shot, but he slowly sloshed around... away and out of sight. Hopefully, he buried himself away for the winter. So we felt pretty good, if a bit cold!

We continued flipping. More Redbacks turned up... DSCN2865 DSCN2866 DSCN2869 All of them were pretty good sized and chubby for hibernation. The last guy, a skinny Leadback, was an exception to the rule. DSCN2872

So, we saw no Spotties, but a half dozen Redbacks and a Bullfrog on November 17th is just great for us! A quick hour and a half of pure herpin' joy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Post-Hurricane herping... November 10, 11 & 12, 2012

Well, the East Coast got slammed by Hurricane Sandy as we were coming back from Chiller and as of this writing (Nov. 13th), much of it hasn't recovered. To add insult to injury, a Noreaster blew threw last Wednesday, giving us an unexpected 2 inches of snow right here in the Boston area. We're way better off than New Jersey and New York, but this Fall has sucked it! So why should we bother herping? Because fuck you, that's why!

Saturday, November 10th
With the temps in the mid-50s and wind blowing, I'm not sure what we expected to see, but we went to Borderland. We got there at 2:30 PM (we figured the sun would be at its highest... completely forgetting that Daylight Savings Time had happened...) and noticed that the gates would shut at 4:30. So, speed-hiking it is!

The usual snakey places were barren and the sun wasn't really hitting them any more. So we headed up the trail. That clump in the pond looked interesting...
Nope... that was a stick... not a turtle shell. Wait- what's that on the other clump?? To the right of the picture...
Holy crap... it looks like 2 Painted Turtles!!
Two intrepid chelonians were up and enjoying the waning rays of sunlight! Check out that hoist!

OK- Two turtles on November 10th! That gave me a huge happy!

The rest of the (quick) hike produced no more herps but that hardly mattered!


This Chipmunk regarded me...

Cold and windy, but still beautiful!

We got to poke around the farm house. We just found out on our last trip from our DCR pal that it was OK to do so... its not occupied.
Nothing there, but I'm gonna herp the shit out of that place in the Spring!

I almost got a great shot of this Downy Woodpecker...
Downy Woodpecker

So we saw some reptiles on a cold day and got a good walk in. Not too shabby, sez me!

Sunday, November 11th
I had to work Sunday morning and afternoon (a record show) but with temps projected to be in the mid 60s, Andrea decided to go it alone and take a look at the Arboretum. She got there at about 1:30 and it was a beautiful sight, for sure!

Approaching the ponds, she heard some startled frogs leap in, but they were too quick for pictures...
Still, it was a lovely walk...

I got home just before sunset (about 4 PM) and we went up to Kate and Snag's yard in hopes of a last minute Dekay's Snake. No snakes, but we saw a half dozen Redbacks!
(Check out the tip of worm to the left...)

Monday, November 12th
We were both stuck at work on Veteran's day (observed) while the temps were supposed to be scraping the 70s. Indian Summer and we were going to miss it. I hurried home after work and headed straight to my friend's house... hoping for Dekay's again! Nope... it was, in fact, pretty cool back there by 4 PM. Perfect for Redbacks, though! I saw a dozen easily!


Too slow for this tail-less guy!


Big ones and small ones, fast ones and slow ones... I love me some Redbacks! They keep me happy, herping into November! And I must say, it is a privilege and an honor to have friends like Kate and Snag. They let us herp their yard... they understand our need!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The end of the line?

As I sit here in my home, which is a brisk 62 degrees right now, I'm contemplating the possibility of no more herping this year. Of course, we hope to, but realistically, it might just be too damn cold for cold blooded creatures.

We went over to our friends Kate and Snag's house on Halloween. We arrived early, in hopes of seeing a frozen Dekay's Snake, but no such luck. This wee Redback was, however, up and walking across the top of a rock!


We went back the following Saturday, November 3rd, because it was warm in the sun. You never know. We flipped everything possible. We managed to find this behemoth Redback.
(That's a dime)

So, these two young Redbacks might well be the last finds of a wonderful year!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

On the road to Chiller 10-26-2012

The last time we were at Cutler (and having a decent snake day), we suggested that, if the weather is nice, we could always take a hike before heading off to our annual October Chiller Theater convention in October! Well, the weather was supposed to be in the mid-60s, so that's exactly what we did... a 3 hour hike through Cutler before the drive to New Jersey!

We got there at about 9:30 AM and it was a bit cooler than we'd hoped. Still, Cutler gets pretty warm when the sun is out. But would it come out? It was still a bit cloudy. (The sun never really burned too brightly during the hike)

No worries... about 15 minutes into the hike, I turned around and saw Andrea with a pert little Garter Snake!
A lovely little fella who had some interesting dark scales along his lip...

So, a late-October snake! Anything else would be gravy! Like this array of Redbacks and Leadbacks!
Spotty one!

Two separate puddles had two separate Green Frogs...

I caught a Grasshopper on the end of my snake-stick. He wouldn't let go!

So, on the way back to the car, right around the same place as Andrea's Garter-Grab 2 1/2 hours earlier, we saw another Garter!
So, as noted by Anon a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but pick him up!

Say... is this the same snake that Andrea caught earlier? Sure looks like it!

After much debate, we have decided that it is indeed the same snake! That said, the second time we handled him, he got very comfy and even stayed in position when Andrea removed one hand... forming a good impression of the Starship Enterprise.

So we let him go and off he went...

Will he be the last snake of 2012? Well, I'm writing this a week later and it has been cold ever since, so I don't doubt that he will be la Ășltima serpiente de 2012! I'm happy that the lil guy gave us BOTH the chance to admire him!

We're not finished herping this year, but we are being realistic... there probably wont be any more snakes to find.