Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A good herpin' day... plain and simple. 7-27-2013

We needed a good herpin' day. We got it. We went back to Boyden, a place that we were driven out of  last time by bugs. (Read all about the non-adventure here) Surely the cooler weather would make things less buggy...

Upon pulling into the lot (at about 7:45 AM), the damn yellow flies started pelting the car. Not a good sign. But we sprayed up and down and I grabbed my newest fly-baffling idea... a second shirt. If it got too bad, I'd put my face through the neck-hole and keep my ears and neck covered.

It wasn't too bad, really. And we got off to a herptastic start with this flip of a lovely Garter Mom who was not only expecting babies, but a shed!

She slowly crawled off under another board that I hadn't flipped yet. A board that also had this massive gal under it!
She was huge, probably about 30"!
There's going to be a lot of baby shoestring Garter Snakes in this spot very soon!

The day was already a success. Anything else would be gravy! Like this next Garter... a small guy!
No dorsal stripe on this fella!

So, did we only see Garters? Nope! I'm glad that I got all fussy and stuck with this Bullfrog to get a good shot because, unlike other recent trips, this was our only Bull of the day!

The cooler weather (and that night's rain) brought a couple of Redbacks to the surface.
boyden redbacks

Speaking of the wetness, by now I had put my extra shirt over my head. I looked like a dolt but it kept bugs out of my ears and off of my neck.

The next guy, I was like "Pickerel, pickerel, pickerel" all day long... until I got the photos uploaded... Pickerels aren't supposed to have any green on them. Plus, these spots look more rounded as well as circled with green.
Unfortunately, he's so muddy that I can't make a certain ID... and I wasn't able to catch him to look at his belly. If it is a Leopard Frog, it would be our first not only at Boyden, but in this county!

This American Toad was much easier to ID, despite his diminutive size.
His belly was very speckled.

These next two Pickerels were easy!
boyden palustrus

While I was going 'phib crazy, Andrea was inspecting a predated turtle nest... looks like the work of a Raccoon, who will gnaw off one end and drink out the innards.

Things got snakey again when this in-a-family-way Garter started scooting along in front of us... this is how I catch snakes... lay the whole hand gently on top of them to subdue them. Even, gentle pressure.

What is this? Fat, knocked-up Garter Day? Our next flip said "yes"!
She's ready to pop!

Chelonians? Sure!! Here's an eleven-stack! Some nice reds on a few of these Painted Turtles! Space was at a premium!

This guy, also with some stunning reds, was very far away. The 42 zoom did its best...

Want to see a very welcome and very cute Wood Frog? Here are 2 shots of one!

Our old friend the Appliance Graveyard answered the question "where the Dekay's at?"

So, that was a successful walk! But we still wanted more! 6 hours just wasn't enough!We had planned to go check out the vernals at Rocky Gutter, a place we almost swore off back in April... read all about it here. We ate some Mandarin Buffet and drove 15 minutes further out.

We got there and decided to explore the field that yielded so many Redbacks back then. It took a while to score... I got this HUGE (roughly 2") Horsefly.

While Andrea saw this young Mantis.

While she was off photographing the mantis, I was rummaging through this:
Holy moly!! One flip made a Ringneck slide away, so my pursuit got more intense. I scared up a couple of toads, too. Finally, I flipped this young in-the-blue Garter!
He is the same size as the Ringneck that slid away, so I felt victorious!

First snake at this place!!

We also were able to photograph this Toad as he hopped by... a young American.

We headed towards the power cuts, where the vernals were. They were still there and one was very very busy!

While we were looking at the tadpoles, a bit down-pond, I saw an odd sight... a young Water Snake fishing in the puddle! As I chased him through the water, his markings struck me as looking like a King Snake!
What a friggin' beauty!!

While Andrea was making goo-goo eyes at him, I was wondering just what the fuck this was!
An Eastern Toebiter... I was afraid to pick it up barehanded! He was about 3" long and from what I have since heard... they'll get bigger and fly!!! There were a dozen of them underwater. Evidently, they eat tadpoles.

Speaking of which, I finally scooped up one that had been interesting us...
We needed confirmation before hollering "LIFER"! But we had one... our first Gray Tree Frog! Almost ready to leave the water, this guy took some awkward hops in my hand.

There were other species of Tadpoles about too. Like this bigger one... Pickerel? Wood? The jury is still out...

This bird was beating the heat at another near-by puddle.

Another vernal pond/puddle had more Grays...

And some Toadpoles...

And this as yet unidentified guy...
The mottling would suggest another Gray, but that tail fin is clear, rather than red. Man... I suck at larvae ID!!

After having seen the massive horsefly and the Toebiters, it seemed only natural that we should end off the day with a gigantic beetle!

So, Rocky Gutter has completely redeemed itself! 2 snake species (and a third seen but not photographed) and loads of fine 'phibs, including our first Grays (that we actually found ourselves!) A long, successful day of herping! We can't wait to get out again!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Being cool at Massasoit. 7-21-2013

The heatwave finally ended on Saturday night. It was supposed to merely be in the low 80s for Sunday, so we chose Massasoit, a favorite place of ours, in hopes that some herps would be rejoicing the more tolerable weather. We had a big 50s Diner brekkie and got to the park just a little before 9 AM.

It had rained fairly hard just before we got there so, naturally, we expected to be abused by bugs. Luckily, they held off for the most part. A few gnats and at least one yellow fly and some skeeters, but not really heavy like the torture we've been going through lately!

First up was a familiar face... a Bullfrog (far smaller than the behemoths we saw the day before)!

Next up, we flipped the first of many Fowler's Toads.

We have been lamenting the fact that we hadn't seen a Black Racer since April, so our next flip was very gratifying!
His wee black coils under a board were so cute! And like all Racers, he was feisty!
Ready to shed and ready to become a big bruiser! What a beauty!

This tiny Fowler's was nearby, relieved that the Racer had slithered off.

Speaking of tiny toads, they were everywhere!!! Tons and tons of tiny toads in Taunton!
tiny toad 1

This spider, who had built a nest in a knot in a tree, looked out at the terror of the toads...

There were some larger toads about as well.

We got to a favorite stone flippin' place in hopes of some more snakes. But we flipped more Toads!
flip toads

This tiny toad is a Tareyton smoker.

This medium guy had his throat puffed out.

This guy was just thinking, "soon..."

Both within about 10 feet of the pond, I flipped two female Wolf Spiders with their backs covered with baby spiderlings!

Some more youngsters...

A regular and a "soon"-phase...

Andrea got this nice shot of a small mantid... I couldn't even see him!

We went out wading in hopes of a few Water Snakes, turtles or whatever. We saw a few Bullfrogs first!
wading bulls

When I say tiny toads were everywhere, I mean it! They were even swimming in the water!

Andrea's inner birder came out and she got this shot of a Mourning Dove atop a boulder!

And a heron on the other side of the pond... Yay 42 zoom!

We got sidetracked for a bit.

Finally, we entered Chelonialand and spotted a few Painted Turtles!
I like the guy on the right. It doesn't look too comfy, but turtles gotta bask!

I flipped this crayfish who posed patiently while I tried to get a good shot. It took about 7 tries, but I like it.

It's about time for another tiny toad!

We got to a spot that has been pretty reliable for basking Painteds, so we approached very quietly... I got this shot...
...before he slid in.

But we sat there and ate apples and relaxed. Eventually, he came back up and paid us no never mind.
At least I think it's the same one. Little fella at any rate!

Our search for more snakes and black-eyed toads was coming to an end. It seems the snakes hadn't heard that the heatwave had ended and they were still in hiding. They were missing out on lots of good eatin'!

Finally, on the way out, we checked the cranberry bogs and saw a couple of Green Frogs!

We had put in roughly 6 1/2 hours and needed some chow and drink. We split a king-sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cups pack and got some cold soda (yes, I am 12) and headed over to Oliver Mills for a photo shoot I had been planning.

To me, the ruins at Oliver Mills look like Berzanno, the place where the undead Templars roam in Tombs of the Blind Dead. So, having finished my candy and soda, I took my toy Blind Dead figure and set up my photo shoot.

While I was doing that, Andrea watched a Muskrat swim across the water!

No herps, but we saw a feisty Crayfish who loved pinching me!

So all in all, not a bad day at all!