Monday, December 24, 2012

Dreaming of a Herp Christmas 12-22-2012

Inspired yet again by our friend Steve's herping tenacity (his webpage is here), we found ourselves taking a cool walk around one of our favorite ponds in Norfolk County Mass... but on December 22nd??!

It was a crisp 38°F, far colder than we like. But intrepid herpers never complain!


We set about poking through some icy streams... DSCN3045

I saw a couple of sleepy Pickerel Frogs, possibly the same ones as a couple of weeks ago... here's one. DSCN3046

An area further down the stream had some lovely 2-Lined Salamander larvae hanging out! DSCN3051 DSCN3053 DSCN3057
I saw the golden back of an adult 2-Lined breach the muddy water after a stone flip, but I was never able to find him after that!

Andrea had wisely packed some wading boots to get down and dirty in... DSCN3060 But that mud really SUCKED! DSCN3063

Undaunted, we carried on! DSCN3068

After a couple of hours, some cutting winds had whipped up and we started to remember why we don't go outside in the colder weather. Faces were freezing! A chubby Redback found on a flip warmed our souls, if not our bodies! DSCN3069

It dawned on me that I was herping with my Christmas bonus in my pocket, so the next Redback got to pose unlike any other Redback before it... DSCN3073

These guys were waiting for their handouts... DSCN3075

We'd reached our destination stream, cold and snotty. Still, we wanted to find an adult 2-Lined, so in we went. I saw the golden breach on an adult but, as often happens, he eluded me. He was still fast despite the ice water... DSCN3081

OK, now it was getting painful! Our hands were burning with cold from sifting through the icy water and our clothes were wet and muddy. We headed back. We saw one more Redback on the way back to the car. Crazy mofo, too... we couldn't get a good shot, he was so active! We had to settle for this: DSCN3084

Man, the heater blasting in the car never felt better! When people ask if we ski, I always say "no, we never make ourselves uncomfortable on purpose", meaning... go outside in the winter?? No way! But to see a dozen herps in the winter? Yeah... it really was worth it!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December Herps?

In a word, yes.

You just have to work much harder!

On December 4th (a Tuesday), with the weather in the mid-50s, I tried some after-work herping at Allendale. I got there around 4PM, which is dusk these days. I did the whole run (alone), flipping everything in sight. And everything out of sight for that matter; it got far too dark to see within a half hour and I was using the camera flash to see what was underneath logs and stones. No herps.

So I went up to my friend's stone wall to flip for Redbacks. Nuthin'.

Undeterred, Andrea and I went out late Saturday morning to walk our favorite pond in Norfolk County. It was barely 50°F, foggy and rainy. Surely we were nuts.

But at 11:40AM, Andrea was straddling a small stream and flipped a rock, waking up two resting Pickerel Frogs!
They were pretty groggy, so we replaced them right where they were and carried on, happy with our success! December herps!

We continued around the pond (in the opposite direction of our usual route) and found nothing else. It might well have turned out to be another case of immediate success followed by nothing else. But then, I flipped I gigantic rock and we saw our first Redback Salamander! I said to Andrea "Get it! Quick!" and she snapped the picture!
It turned out that she needn't have been so quick, as the salamander very slowly meandered into the nearby hole.

Two species in December! Well, now we were chuffed for sure! And as we neared the spot we'd both been waiting for (a Redback-heavy haven), we started spotting many more!

Wow!! Though some of these photos aren't as clear as we'd have liked, all of our Plethodon Pals are accounted for here!

So, we got to the place where Andrea scored a bunch of Two-Lined last month... I started flipping. I saw one golden and black back sailing through the muddy water and sifted through the mud, but missed him. BUT, I had some sort of salamander larvae... then lost it. Andrea flipped and missed another two 2-Lined guys! ARRRGH! A further sifting of the mud got me this guy... what I believe to be another 2-Lined Salamander larvae... about 5/8 of an inch long!
2-Lined Larvae

I then went across the bridge and finally scored an adult Two-lined who did not hand us our asses!

So, we were covered with mud and both had double-soakers, but we'd found three herp species in December!

We added this fine Redback to our count.

We continued around the pond, happy with ourselves, despite the temps still being low and the place looking like this:

We found no more live herps, though this dead Wood Frog was in the path. He might have been gone for a few days...
DOR Wood Frog :(
A shame.

But still... a dozen herps in December!! Hot damn!! Many thanks to Steve NewEnglandHerps for inspiring us to get out and herp despite the chill in the air!! Check out his recent finds here