Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beating the Heat with Cold-Blooded help!

Last night's surprise herp trip certainly paid dividends and got us started on a Toady Tangent for the weekend! But would we be able to keep it up with the weather heading back to the mid-90s? We shifted our brains to Summer Mode and decided to head over to Massasoit as early as possible, to get in our licks before the heat became an issue.

We arrived at 7:30 AM, not bad considering that we were up very late! We discovered that our boards had been tampered with at the Picnic Tables... but at least they were not set back up into bike ramps.  We actually found a bundle of it in the next area, the sandy place, broken up and wrapped in a tarp. One man's snake boards are another man's firewood it seems.

We found other stuff too... like some Fowler's Toads!
massasoit fowlers 1

This guy wasn't ready to greet the warm morning...

This is the only toad of the day that I'm not sure on... his warts suggest an American, but he also has some aspects of Fowler's. We have a sneaky feeling there are intergrades here...

In the last section of the Sandy Area, we saw what we'd hoped to find... some nesting turtles! Snappers to be exact! This big girl paid us no nevermind as we snapped some snaps of the Snapper.

Her buddy up the beach a bit was far smaller, but took the prize for best Chelonian Up-do!

The temperature rose, but we still found many Fowler's!
massasoit fowlers 2

In fact, the pond was sick with Toad Tadpoles, or Toadpoles, as we like to call them.

Saying hang-it-all, we took off our shoes and waded into the muck to herp among the reeds. This Bullfrog was surprised to see us on his turf!

It had dawned on us that snakes might be tough to find this day because of the heat, with the exception of Water Snakes. We were right... a small Northern Water Snake skimmed past us and tricked us a bit, but we finally caught him for photos!
He's a real looker, too!

He was well mannered...just a small nip to each of us before we let him go...
It was the first Nerodia we had seen in this part of the pond.

Perhaps the cutest thing we encountered was this hatchling Painted Turtle!
We saw another, even smaller guy, but he was deceased...

We saw a few more Fowler's, of varying sizes...

We waded along what used to be a path...
and saw a ton of Toadpoles...
and a Six-Spotted Fishing Spider (with more than 6 spots)!

Back on dry land, we found these next five Fowler's! Some split screen goodness on two of them for your amusement.
massasoit fowlers 3

Near the water's edge, we saw this Bullfrog...,

At another inlet to the water, I saw what I thought was a medium sized, dark Bullfrog's noggin in the water, behind some grassy plant life. Then it scooted away and I saw the long body with keeled scales attached to it. It was a water Snake noggin! My consolation prize was this massive and spotty Bullfrog!
There sure are some impressive Bulls here!

We got to a favorite resting spot. I sat on my fat ass and photographed a Mourning Dove like the wannabe birder than I am:
while Andrea climbed sheer walls and explored potential habitat...

Despite the heat (or because of it) there wasn't as much turtle basking as we had expected. These hearty Painted Turtles were answering the call, though...
And a closer look at that guy atop the stump in the last pic...
Gotta keep that butt warm!

Hey, here's a Pickerel!

More cooling down had to be done. I did this too, but looked no where as near sexy while doing it...

I had been thinking of a beachy area here and when we got to it, I took off my shoes and started exploring the reeds from the inside! Andrea alerted me to a Water Snake gliding across the lake and heading toward a fallen tree. I went to look for him over there. Andrea just went for it and jumped in, fully clothed, cooling off with a vengeance!

What I had thought might be a turtle burrowing underwater turned out to be a huge Catfish who jumped out of his burrow and swam off... scaring the shit out of me! I finally found Mr. Water Snake. Oops... no camera on me. Too fast to catch. Blech. No harm done until, 15 minutes later... he appeared again and disappeared again!!! AAARRRGGGHHH!

Andrea had started getting messages from friends saying how successful their days had been! I was knee-deep in muck failing miserably!! Finally, SeƱor Nerodia showed up again and, with Andrea's help corralling him into reaching distance... he got away again. But, I saw him just up on land and grabbed him. He was not pleased and bit like crazy.
^ check it out... Andrea got a shot of the blood dripping!
A small victory for me, we let him go... with plenty of snake blossoms to remember him by.

Some nearby Painted Turtles were up...

as was another large, spotty Bullfrog!

A beautiful Red Spotted Purple Butterfly was teasing us with near-perfect shots, one of which Andrea finally got!

We went back to the tables and flipped, seeing if anyone was seeking refuge under some cover. A shoestring Garter was there, but he disappeared into the grass before we could get a picture...

A couple more Fowler's...

a cluster of American Carrion Beetles swarming all over something dead...

and another Red Spotted Purple...
and we were toast! Over 7 hours in the hotness. We took a quick break, tried out the new nearby ice cream place (thumbs up!) and went off to search for another new place, where some coveted turtles might reside!

Much like the night before, we just couldn't find the supposed parking area! We circled again... over and over, then finally said fuck it! We went home from our massive Massasoit mission, tired and sweaty, but happy.

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