Sunday, July 7, 2013

Home Cookin' at Borderland! 7-5-2013

After a few days of exotic locales (Windsor, CT., Cape Cod, Brockton), it felt mighty fine to plan a trip to an old favorite Bristol County stomping ground... Borderland! Sure, it was already over 90° at 7:30 when we stepped out of the house, but hope always springs eternal.

So, yeah... once again it was mid-90s and super super sweaty. Would we actually see anything? We didn't for a while. Turtles weren't even basking. This might be a long day. Also, little bastard yellow-flies were buzzing the hell out of us, biting and flying into our ears. Annoying as anything... it was making us CRAYZEEE!!! But, as true herpers, we soldiered on.

A (vernal?) pond that has been good to us in the past started us out with a couple of Bullfrogs.

There were loads of nearly-ready-to-go tadpoles patrolling the pond...
This one looked like he was testing the air...
I caught one in the observation tank... they're Wood Frogs, almost ready to hit the land for good!

This Bullfrog, whom we had scared in when we approached the pond, forgave us and came back out.

Tiny Toads were around as well. Looks like a wee American.

We got to our favorite spot, a place which has been good for Water Snakes for us! None were up basking... not surprising, as it was so hot. Poking around for a while, I saw a wee juvenile sliding through the water. We went into some rocks and I went into the water after him, noodling around where he went in. After a bit, he popped out- over my arm, slithered through some gathered foam (which he was then covered with!) and I managed to wrangle him for some shots!
The youngsters are always very special to us... just gorgeous!

Since I was in the water now, I decided to clear up some of the clumps of seaweed and plants that had washed into the area from the pond. There was tons of it! One handful disturbed an adult Water Snake, who retreated under a rock. Noodling again, I got my paws on the thick coil and pulled him up.
He wasn't real happy about that!

We let him be and he slithered away to go back to sleep...

My cleaning stirred up another Northern Water Snake... this small/ medium gent, who Andrea made a great catch on!

I tell ya- noodling for Water Snakes on a hot day is pretty great!! When we released this guy, he hid for a while, then got himself caught in the current and went sailing off of a slanted rock, just like a low-budget movie's car crash! He was airborne! We laughed despite his embarrassment!

Eventually, we moved on, reluctant though we were. We headed up to a rocky/ sandy area to see if we could spot any turtle nests. We did one better! We saw this Painted Turtle leaving the area!
Evidently, she has just lightened her load and was heading back to the cool water!

I made a surprising discovery on a rock flip... a feisty Ringneck!
He was actually trying to bite me! Silly Ringneck! I gave him to Andrea...
Beautiful and spirited and with a John Waters mustache! Just the way we like 'em!

Eagle eye Andrea saw this Peeper hopping along...

So, after that, we went a while without seeing anything. The trails we were on were just so hot and sweaty. And those damn bugs were destroying our sanity! I don't know what those yellow biting flies are, but they are assholes!!! So we headed back to our Nerodia place to cool off and noodle some more. There was a decent sized adult minding his own business out on the pond:
so we let him be.

Andrea found this cool, intact skin in the stream. Looks like smooth scales, which would suggest a Ringneck.

I saw another juvenile Nerodia and stuck my arm into the rocks up to my shoulder, noodling around for him. I felt some much larger coils move out of the way... just how many snakes were in this hideout?! Patience paid off and eventually, this youngster came out and we gathered him up for some pictures.
What a charmer!

So, not too shabby! 5 Northern Water Snakes and a Ringneck seen on a 95° day! Too bad we'd never see a Garter to make a third species.

Or would we? I saw this:

I managed to catch her and she was way bigger than I had originally thought! Feisty as hell, too!

After she settled down a bit, we measured her... roughly 28"! Not too bad! Probably our largest Garter of the year so far!
We're guessing she is in a family way; her surprising girth was pretty uniform and she didn't barf up a shit-load of toads into my lap when we were handling her.

On the way out, there was a large Bullfrog posing in the stream. We took a bunch of photos, but when I got this one, I knew I had a winner.
Not that it's a great shot, but I was on my belly, holding the camera out over the water on the other side of a walk-bridge to get this. It came out pretty good, I think!

So, despite the damn biting flies and skeeters, this hot and humid day worked out pretty well for us!! Finding snakes at all in this kind of weather is pretty tough but finding seven? We're feeling pretty good about ourselves; we always enjoy some good home-cookin'!

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