Sunday, June 30, 2013

Devil Toad and the Anaxyrus of HELL! 6-29-2013

Nine days of vacation! Thunderstorms and hot weather are predicted for the whole thing, but we don't care. We are herpers. We are odd. So, we set out for Massasoit a bit later than planned, but still got there around 9 AM and it was drizzly and warm. I've been treating my leg for cellulitis all week and, though it was feeling better, I'd have to keep an eye on it.

Our battle with the picnic table people continues... much stuff has been flipped and not replaced. No snakes, but this large Fowler's Toad stood his ground!

Speaking of Fowler's Toads... they were the order of the day, it seems! Here is a bunch of Fowleri that we flipped... buried in the sand, peeking out... waiting... just waiting... for you to sleep...
hidden toads

I had said earlier that we hadn't seen a Ribbon Snake since before our Pennsylvania trip! Guess what I found?

I was walking the edge of a sandy area and saw a Ribbon Snake move slowly away. He was dragging his tail. Still, he managed to elude me for a moment. When I got a look at him, it was pretty sad...
About the last third of him was limp and wounded. Healed, but wounded. He crawled fine, but with obvious trouble. Very sad. We wished him the best and let him slowly crawl away. This pic does his beauty justice:

At our favorite pond (after some back-breaking flipping that produced nada...) we went straight to the water's edge to herp (and cool off a bit). I flipped this Pickerel Frog!

I was attracted by this lovely Bullfrog:
and looked down to see a hatchling Painted Turtle hanging out on the grass that was folded over the water! I brought him up for a photo session so Andrea could enjoy him, too!

While Andrea was playing, I found a tiny toad, which were all over; you had to be careful where you stepped! I did the ol' bottle cap thing.

But that's getting old hat, so Andrea came up with the best idea ever!!

I waded back out and found two more youngsters!

Then I flipped another Pickerel!

Before moving on, we found a bunch more Fowler's! Nary an American all day!
massasoit Fowler's 1

Andrea scored with a beautiful Garter... with a disappearing dorsal stripe. We find 'em like this here.

Wading back out into a different part of the pond, I noticed groups of tadpoles keeping together in a cluster. When they swam, they swam as a group! Weird- I'd never seen that before. With a scoop of the observation tank, I found out why!
They were schools of tiny black Catfish! Cool!

I flipped another frog... this time a Green! All noggin, he was!

Andrea changed back into dry shoes, but this toad and I decided to keep our water shoes on for a while.

No, of course one can only photograph so many toads before it gets boring, right? We'd made the call to not photograph any but the most beautiful, and then saw these three right in a row!
That's some fine lookin' Fowler's Flesh!

We approached another pond (where we've never really seen anything) and there was a massive Water Snake basking on some sticks. As I fumbled with the camera, he slid off. Damn... I'd wanted an in situ shot so I wouldn't have to get the shit bitten out of me by this brute! This is the only shot I could muster!
So, in I went... stepping on sticks and branches in the mud under the water. The snake stayed about 2 feet in front of me the whole time; I could not make an attempt. He led me around a bush and my right foot found nothing underneath it and I was into the pond up to my hip on one side! The bastard! Oh well, he then went out into the open enough for Andrea to get a couple of good shots!
My pursuit ended as he slipped away into an inaccessible spot, hidden by crisscrossing branches and low hanging trees.

But that's OK... we were in turtle territory now! I saw a nice stack warming up in the newly exposed sun! I got this shot of the Painted Turtles:
Hey! That's a Musk Turtle in the back! And he's the only one who didn't slide off as I jockeyed for a better shot! Big fella, too!

No more Musks, but dozens of Painteds!

Howza 'bout some more Fowler's, yo?
massasoit toads 2

Andrea found this guy who was not only fat and ornate, but check out that bright yellow leg! Cool!

We had explored new parts of the park, taking new trails and getting a bit misplaced. Eagle eye Andrea found a familiar log (seriously) and we got back on track. We went back to our favorite pond for a spell. I saw another bullfrog:
and two tiny Painteds. Could they be the same duo as before?

While Andrea was playing with them:
I saw this massive Bullfrog!

Now, it has been a while since I last caught a big Bullfrog and, even though I'd already gotten a good picture of him, I wanted to try. Success!

When I released him, this small but bright Bullfrog looked on...

We released the dynamic duo:
and headed out as we were at the 7 hour mark. And, it had gotten hot!

We waited off to the side as a cyclist whizzed up a thin trail. When we continued, we saw- right off the path- this adult Painted who was probably up to lay some eggs and got the crap scared out of her by the bike!
The poor dear!

I saw another Toad. Looked like a Fowler's. But I wanted to be sure, so I caught him. I pulled up the Toad Demon!
His eyes are black! (Robert Shaw: "Like a doll's eyes...")

Could this be the wee melanistic toad we found last year, all grown up? Unlikely it would have become so large in only a year. Weird!

Weirder still, the next Toad we saw, about 20 feet further up the trail... also had black eyes!!!
Actually, in that last shot, you can just see the pupil... just very very dark brown eyes.

But weird, or what?! This must be some kind of genetic trait found in a small population in this particular area of the park! Cool!

Other than startling 3 bunnies on the way out, that was it! Not bad for our first day of vacation!

That said, we have 9 herping days in a row. We saw 9 species today. Hmmm.... if it goes down by one every day, the last day will suck!!

But today was fine, if maybe a bit... EEEEVILLLL!

Friday, June 28, 2013

11 in 10- herping with speed. 6-28-2013

And blogging with speed. I'm hungry and I need to cook!

We are watching some friends' cats. They have a superb Dekay's population in their yard. There were lots of skeeters out too. This was to be fast. We would flip and photograph, hoping to not touch many (if any) of the snakes we might see. Well, we had to secure a few, but overall, this is how we found them. And left them.

Fisrt flip...



FOUR! (handled)






sorry 'bout those numbers...

and the eleventh guy, I almost crushed... just like last week... careful as I was. His appearence startled me... he was just starting to shed... to take it off... take it all off.

So there you have it. 11 Dekay's, 3 full kitties and the fastest find-to-blog post in my stupid little history!