Sunday, June 23, 2013

Herping in the Great White North! 6-22-2013

We had a little family gathering to attend in Hollis, NH at 4 PM, so we figured that a poke around the Granite State before that might be a good idea! We got to Hillsborough County at roughly 11 AM with just the vaguest of plans. We headed to Flint's Pond first, just because it is a pond.

Upon arrival, we discovered that there were no paths around said pond, so we walked the access road a bit to see what we could see. Not much. Plus, it was pretty hot. Andrea made a concentrated effort to "look for some Wood Frogs" while I went further down the road.

There was an area with piles and piles of discarded leaves and sticks. Yup- I heard a "whoosh"! I saw a young garter dart into a pile. I dug through a bit, he came out and I had a calm Garter Snake in hand!
Andrea saw me from 100 yards back and started to run up. I assured her there was no hurry. This guy was a mellow fellow.

While Andrea was enjoying him, I flipped through some more piles and a small, bright Garter darted deeper into the leaves. I couldn't turn him up! Also, just off the road, a larger Garter slid into some underbrush. I couldn't find him, either! Oh well... at least we knew Garters were out and about in New Hampshire!

With little more to inspect at Flints, we drove on, looking for a place to herp. We saw signs for Silver Lake State Park. We followed. Now, this could have been like College Pond... filthy with humanity and not much to look at. But, though fairly populated, it wasn't too bad. Plus, the guy at the gate said we could flip anything we wanted! So we did!

There was a lovely circle of flat stones right there as you first walked in. We flipped. We found Toads. American Toads. Plump ones.

This last guy looks like a Fowler's. With hybridization possible, my toads just keep confusing me of late!

So we headed to the woods! It wasn't long before we stumbled upon (not literally) tiny toads!

While walking a tad off trail, I yelled to Andrea "STOP"! She might have stepped on this!
Now, that's one heck of a beautiful Garter!

Right about this time, I started feeling poorly... and I had a bright burning spot in front of my face, like I'd been staring at the sun. I had to sit and recuperate. This has happened before, so I knew I had to just sit, drink and close my eyes for a while. While I was out, Andrea found this nifty New Hampshire Redback!

I needed to eat and have a Strawberry Coolata, so we went out for a bit, only to return to hit the trails across the street from the lake. This habitat was amazing... pines, scrub, open sandy fields. Perfect for you know what, who are actually on record in this part of the state. So, we set about looking, overjoyed at the amount of AC around (picnic tables, boards, discarded hibachis)! Sadly, in 2 hours, we found nada, save a few predated Snapper nests...

Heading back toward the car, I decided to take one more peek at some of the debris. There was a pile of old, corroded swim-area buoys, still strung up and with pricker vines growing around them. I flipped a few and saw a tail slipping away. I got a hold of the tail, but couldn't safely extract the rest of the snake. I needed Andrea's help to hold (strung up) buoys while I'd remove another to reveal more of this cantankerous Garter! Eventually, we safely moved enough (and untangled him from the buoy ropes) so we could photograph him! And he was feisty!!!
Uninterested in my nose, he decided to take his fierceness out on himself!

Heading into a shed, it's no wonder he was a bit snappy. The snake-whisperer Andrea calmed him down.

So, we cleaned up and went to our family gathering, ate pizza and ice cream and had a lovely time. Herping their property turned up nothing, except for a sexy female herper!

So, at about 7:30, we headed out. Zooming along the road at about 40 MPH, I saw what was probably snake road kill just out side the white line on the shoulder. Or was it? It dawned on me that it was a Northern water Snake and, if he was alive, he was in real danger! I slammed on the brakes and pulled a serious U-turn, despite some other cars around. I got back to where he was and (carefully) got across the road and saw him...
Very much still alive!

So, after snapping these pics, I picked him up and put him back into the bushes behind him. He musked the shit out of me for thanks. Mmmmm... Nerodia musk. Not bad for within a mile of the fgamily gathering! When we got to a nearby gas station to gas up, I washed my hands in the windshield washer tub! Man, Nerodia musk stinks!

So, that was our New Hampshire herp adventure! Nothing fancy, but it's always fun to herp other states! (Except when that dehydration/ heat exhaustion thing set in). It should also be noted that there were shitloads  of ants, making me think of this as the grANiTe State.

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