Thursday, June 13, 2013

Milking it for all it's worth. 6-9-2013

Because sleep isn't an option during herping season, we made plans to get to Boyden at sunrise. That said, we were happy enough to get there at 8 AM. My bones sometimes don't get going as fast as they should...

The grass was still dewy and things were quiet, though there was a tweaked couple at the abandoned house already. Their presence made our herping seem less like trespassing, though the house is very posted. Whatever. No herps there.

The resident American Toad that we have seen in the same spot every time since last year was present and accounted for!
He chirped as I lowered the rock, alarming me a bit, but he was safe in a dugout.

A few Redbacks were all we found for quite a while!
Look- three different color phases! ^^

Andrea, the storm- not the herper, had left things very flooded here. Pools had formed in places we'd never seen water before. We wondered how some of our paths would be... especially the "green frog" step-stones over the creek...

Speaking of Green Frogs... this pond (which we have seen dried up to a puddle in the past) was deep deep deep, but also full of Green Tadpoles!

Redbacks and massive worms...

Other toads were around... like this American!

Of course, the reason we wanted to arrive early was to see some turtles nesting. But no such luck. In fact, we saw lots of this:
So many predated nests!

Of course, we'd been looking for Snappers and Painteds. It's no surprise that I walked past and Andrea barely noticed this...

Now that's something we've never seen before... a laying Musk Turtle!
The first Musk we'd ever seen here!

So that made us very happy... happy enough to keep us going, even knowing that much of our hike would be flooded out. The land at the bottom of the (raging) waterfall was just pure pond...

This is the shallow creek in which we found the snapper last time out:

This Toad cheered us up as we backtracked, hoping that we could find a dry way over to Appliance Graveyard...

We sought another route because this is the green-frog stepping-stone path!
That would have been up to Andrea's shoulders!

We found our way around, though, with the help of two more American Toads!

The Graveyard was hot, as always, and we weren't having much luck. Then I heard Andrea say "Yesssss"! She'd pulled a decent sized Milk Snake out of a tiny shred of carpet!
A humdinger of a beauty, too!
milk snake cover

We enjoyed him for a while and he eventually told Andrea that he was ready to go back.
So we let him go back to his somewhat matching carpet piece!

A triumphant Andrea stands tall!

I countered with this bloodthirsty Redback!

Next up, we found someone who wasn't eaten (yet) by the dozens of turtle predators... a hatchling Snapping Turtle!!

I countered with a Redback!

In one of the deep vernals that had sprung up in the wake of the Tropical Storm, this Green Frog was playing Ride-'em-Cowboy!

We wanted to hit the other part of the river, but knew that it would be pretty flooded. Still, I wanted to try to see some Painteds. Well, most of the basking spots were underwater, but these three found this fallen tree to their liking!

We had reached the end, pretty much, and decided to backtrack through a few favorite spots on the way to the car. Walking the perimeter of the garden area, I heard Andrea say "Snake... Garter... coming your way" and I looked down and jumped onto this beast!
We attempted the hat trick on him, and were moderately successful...
We thought he might have a meal in him, so we let him be after getting a couple of shots.

I saw this Dragonfly:
and commented on how pretty it was. Just as Andrea was making fun of my masculinity for saying such a thing, she again said "Yesssss"! She'd done found herself another Milk!
I yelled out "You're on fiyah" and she shushed me. I was a bit overexcited, perhaps...
But what a beauty! The snake too!

So we'd decided that this was a great Boyden trip... 5 plus hours of herping goodness. We rewarded ourselves with Mandarin Buffet and tied on the feed bags for a while. Mmmmm.... beige food!

Sated, we thought about it and said... wanna go to Oliver Mills? It's only a few miles away. Hoping to see some Water Snakes, we headed over.

As expected, it was fairly crowded. But about 10 feet from the car, in the still water right next to the parking lot, Andrea said "Water Snake!... and it's eating a Bullfrog"! Now, I'm not a big fan of seeing animals, especially herps, being eaten... David Attenborough I'm not... but I was able to get some OK pics of the nomming.
nom nom nom
Never thought we'd photograph that!

Further up, we saw this Green Frog.
OK... cute frog and all. I moved closer to try to get a better shot. He jumped up, out of the water towards me!
And kept coming up!
Finally, he passed me and settled into the water behind me.
Weird! We both shook our heads.

This next Green Frog stayed put.

We found skins and Andrea saw a Garter retreat into a stone wall. A place of definite interest next time we come here! We walked along the river, which now had a group of young boys illegally swimming in it, and a man and his daughter were near us... I heard him say "Look, a Water Snake"! I saw just a noggin before it went under. The current was extremely strong here, the snake could be anywhere after that. We started talking to the guy a bit. He had kept snakes before and was a fan. (He'd also seen Water Moccasins in Massachusetts, but we didn't feel the need to correct him...)

We went as far as we could, despite the high waters. I flipped a rock and saw nothing. As I was lowering the rock, snake-eye Andrea said "stop!" She extracted this large and very gravid Dekay's Snake! Our first non-Nerodia here!

My obnoxiously loud whistle came in handy and I was able to attract the guy and his daughter's attention from across a field. They came over and the Mama Dekay worked her charm on the little girl, creating a future field herper!

We went to inspect a new trail on the other side of the river, but came to an abrupt stop when we saw this...
A couple of head shaking adults turned us right back!

We were about done when someone saw our camera's and suggested we might get a great shot of a heron up a ways. Sure enough, standing right there like a meerkat was a beautiful Blue Heron!

As we headed back to the car, I heard one of the swimming boys yelling "snake"! I trotted back and apparently, a Water Snake had come up out of a hole in the stones that are up next to the river. I assured them that the Water Snakes are harmless, much to the chagrin of a townie couple. The guy said I was wrong- it's a Moccasin. I said Moccasins don't come any further north than Virginia. He said "Well, they're here". I finally convinced his wife/ mistress/ sister/ all of the above that what we say is true and she was cool about it.

It's so hard to change people inbred fears. A person at a time, I guess. The little girl is hope for the future. Education is so important. But good luck getting the inbred fears out of the inbred townies! OOPS! I went there!

So, all in all, a very productive day!


  1. We're making little changes. It's the best we can do.

  2. ¡Los paisajes son hermosos!!!....y ¡Cuidado, pueden encontrar un dinosaurio!!!Cariños x 2 Martha

    1. Gracias Martha! Estamos muy contentos de estar inmerso en la naturaleza otra vez! XXOO!