Monday, April 1, 2013

We oughta be in Pictas 3-30-13

March 30th... mid 50s... let's go to our spot in Middlesex County where some of our more cold tolerant and difficult to find chelonian friends might be out! There was to be plenty of sun for basking and the foliage wouldn't be blocking our view!

Well, when the sun was behind a cloud, it was damn chilly! And the water was super-high! Most basking sights that we recalled from last year were submerged. So, being chilly and all, it took a bit before we saw our first herp... but when we did, we were pleased! It was a Leopard Frog!
We had heard them as we walked along, with their thumb-running-along-a-comb call, but were delighted to see one!

Then another! Gravid? Perhaps just fat...

How cute is a pile of sleeping Muskrats? Damn cute!

So, where were the turtles? Well, we finally saw movement; a turtle splashed into the drink just out of my eyesight. But near that was a basking Painted Turtle!

Then the guy who had splashed in hauled himself back up!

Last year, it took us forever to see our first Northern Leopard Frog... now were were seeing our third in about 15 minutes!

And then this guy, who let us get all up in his grill for close-ups!

Now, Leopards aren't endangered, but they're sure hard to see in Massachusetts! But where they are, they are abundant! See what I mean? Another!

We took a different route than usual, to stay in the sun and explore new avenues. It quickly paid off when Andrea spotted this Snapping Turtle basking!
Smallish... maybe about a 7 or 8" carapace.

Another Painted was basking!

By now, the clouds had cleared a bit and it was markedly warmer! Warm enough for this...
A super-orange Garter Snake! Check out that belly... as bright as a Ringneck's!

Another orangey fellow slid by... I managed this shot... not great but it'll do...

OK, now we were getting excited!

There were a bunch of large dead fish scattered around the water...
Coyote? Bald Eagle? (some were seen nearby) Fisher? I dunno, but this fish was almost a foot long.

I was walking along a path and I heard some splashes. Looking into the water, I saw 3 small Painteds swimming away. Damn! No pics! But Andrea noticed these guys soaking up sun on the other side of the pond!

Further up the path, I saw Andrea take a flat out full-body lunge grab for a thin Garter. I saw him elude her and slide into the pond. At least I got a pic of him...

Then I finally saw and caught my first snake! This Garter! We did the "hat trick" thing to calm him down for a nature shot. It eventually worked.

Andrea took this excellent close up:

With the sun up high, the chelonians were out in force!
^note the noggin in the water in the background!

This shot has 11 turtles in it. 2 noggins in the water (go to Flickr to enlarge it) and the 9 baskers.
The biggest one, on the left, is a Red Eared Slider. Here's his solo shot:
It's always bittersweet to see these non-native turtles. On the one hand, I adore them... they are so beautiful. BUT they're not supposed to be here and are competing with local animals for food and space. And some of the ones they're competing with at this particular National Wildlife Refuge are endangered and of special concern. Kids: DON'T LET YOUR UNWANTED PETS LOOSE!!!

So, on the way back, we decided to hit the part of the path that had the orange Garters again. I saw one and we went for the in situ shot:

Andrea looked at her feet... another!

I went to secure the first one for more photos and noticed another friend right there!
Guess we found where there's a den!

We went to poke around another place and on the way back past the "den" site, one of them was up exploring... he nosed his way upwards on a tree... it was fascinating to watch!

So yeah- all of the Garters in this spot were orangey. Our pal Bob Ferguson suggests that while hibernating, they might have been soaking in rusty water. Andrea thinks she saw some rusty areas, so that is probably the case! Hell, I love redheads, so this was great!

One more Garter... sleeping in the sun!
Decent sized and so sleepy, it didn't mind being handled!

Got time for one more Leopard Frog?

This Muskrat, now awake, was fun to watch. He'd gnaw down a reed, then dive under and get a new, green-bottomed reed and chaw it down!

Our last shot is of one of our favorite avians... the Red Winged Blackbird.
We love the call and love that they're back in Massachusetts! Spring must really be here!

So, in five hours we saw dozens of herps. Not bad for March, baby!


  1. Como siempre,todo muy interesante y hermoso!¡Te mandé un un mensaje a tu correo y no lo recibiste. Fijate.Cariños Martha

    1. Voy a revisar mi correo electrónico. He estado teniendo problemas con él! Gracias por el comentario agradable! Love- Mike and Andrea!

  2. Those snakes just made sure to match my hoodie.

  3. Love it. We need to get into the woods! All we have to do is cross the street.

    Katherine (Fiberkat)

    1. Thanks, Fiberkat! Yes! When the weather is nice, you definitely should enjoy nature!