Saturday, January 19, 2013

The ground is frozen, Brah! 1-19-2013

The temps were going to scrape the 40s for the first time in a week... and for the last time for weeks (maybe months!) so we went to our favorite semi-local pond in Norfolk County in hopes of seeing a salamander or two, but mostly to scout for the spring. We've never found the elusive "Duck Pond" on the map... because we always forget to actually take the map on hikes!

There was a lot of parking available... like next to this car who had a broken windshield thanks to a falling limb!

We got to a favorite winter spot to look for some Two-Lined Salamanders. Other mammals had preceded us recently...
Looks like a dog and perhaps a raccoon?

Sure enough, there was some 2-Lined larvae present!
(There are 7 and a tail present in this shot!)

We dropped in a penny for size comparisons...

That was fun! But it was still very icy, despite the fair air temperature. Flipped rocks had ice under them, so we doubted any Redbacks would be up. We were right.

Icy, indeed!

So, with map in hand, we searched for this so-called "Duck Pond". In truth, it was quite easy to find... with the fucking map! And man, are we psyched for warm weather!
Plenty of basking spots for chelonians and snakes! This place should be excellent for many herps!

We have already figured out a way to add this to our usual itinerary at this particular place! We figure we could add at least another half dozen herps every trip! The paths leading to and fro look like excellent snake habitat as well!

Really boss Andrea habitat too!

So, herp-wise, we found about 10 Two-Lined larvae today... not bad for a day where the ground is frozen! Our second species for 2013! But better still, we learned a bit more about one of our very favorite places... knowledge that we think will increase our sightings in the future!

We leave you with a tree that will not be standing much longer...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January, Jonesing for herps. 1-13-13

Well, Saturday was a blast, so we figured we'd try again! The temps were supposed to reach the 60s!! We stayed nearby all the same... we went to the woods in Suffolk County. The ones behind the Greek Church. Yeah- those ones.

Well, the temps never got close to 60, but it wasn't too bad. Very cloudy still. We did much flipping, but to no avail. Spots that have produced snakes in the past taunted us...
There was even an old skin attached to one of the shingles...

Finally, a sheet of tin gave us a couple of Redbacks!! All was not lost!

This spot is also very good for Spotted Salamanders but despite our efforts, none were found.

There were lots of eggs about, mostly slug eggs. This shot is of two different types... could one be Redback? I'm not sure.
Most likely slug eggs.
At any rate, there's a pretty good centipede photo-bomb going on here!

We got to an area that has produced Two-Lined Salamanders before...
But despite getting soaked and muddy, none turned up.

Further along, as Andrea was getting fresh with a tree, I found a lovely Leadback!

Here's a shot of me trying really hard to find some Two-Lines at another point in the woods. Nope.

That was going to do it for us. Just three Redbacks for the day. But it's still frigging January! So there!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First Herps of 2013! What took us so long? 1-12-13

Well, we've been just nutty with the need to herp. There's been snow, ice and nasty New England winter-type stuff. But you just can't herp in the winter! Can you?

With temps in the mid-40s, drizzly rain, fog and no sun, we headed over to a Salamander-friendly hike area in Norfolk County. The one behind a school. In Brookline. It was about 2 PM. The entrance looked a little something like this:

It was only about 15 minutes before we found a Redback!

And some more!

This one slid into a hole before we got the shot! Are those her eggs, or slug eggs?
I'm calling slug.

Let me reiterate... it was January 12th!

Yet the Redbacks were up! Here is our calendar shot, courtesy of Andrea...

I flipped a fairly heavy puddingstone and Andrea gasped "Oh my Gawd!"... there were 8 (!) Redbacks and Leadbacks under it!
They were scattering everywhere, but we got a few good shots!

This is the group retreating into holes and under leaves, which was nice, because I didn't have to move them myself to return the rock to it's original position!

Me an' my puddin'stone.

It took a while, but we finally found a couple more further along... there are two in this (not so hot) picture... you can just barely see the shine of one in a hole to the right of the other guy...

So, yeah... it was Winter.

This Muskrat didn't seem to mind the icy water!

Even all bundled up, Andrea cuts a fine figure of a herper!

We only added two more Redbacks, but they were beauties!
The shy one came out for his close-up, eventually.

So... we had about 18 Redbacks on January 12th. Earliest herps ever. By my estiamtion, 2013 will be a good year because if we're chompin' at the bit so bad now... just how nutty will we be when the snakes come out?!