Saturday, July 6, 2013

Waking up on the Cape 7-4-2013

We fell asleep very early the night before and, despite trying to get up early for Cape Herping, still slept until 6:30. We had to wait for the Homemade Buffet place next door tom open anyway. The food was GREAT, but they had no Diet Coke. Just like yesterday, you take the good with the bad.

We decided to forget about the National Seashore (and their more than likely heavy parking fees; we were thinking of making exploratory stops) so we headed to Nickerson State Park, which is near Brewster. We told the guy at the gate what we were interested in and he suggested a certain area that has trails, water and wildlife. Looked good to us!

We started out on the trails around Cliff Pond and Little Cliff Pond. Let's be honest here... Pines, sandy soil... we were hoping for some of these legendary Cape Hognose Snakes. Period. Things looked up when we almost immediately saw tiny toads... a hoggie's favorite chow!
Yep- we saw a lot of them!

We searched low and high, in and out and up and down. We spent more than two hours in 90°+ temperatures, sweating, being buzzbombed by insects, losing breath and almost consciousness and, truthfully, just being miserable. We only saw a handful of Fowler's Toads in a little over 2 hours of searching.

My mini-meltdown consisted of the following: You know what? I don't give a flying fuck about Hognose Snakes! I'd rather see two Garters and a Water Snake than traipse through this bullshit specialized habitat for nothing! It's too hot for them and they're the tiniest needle in the biggest haystack there is! Give me fresh water, hardwood forests and some goddamn frogs and turtles! We have spent too damn many hours trying to find this species and I just do not give a shit anymore.

So, after that... we went swimming at Flax Pond. We could hear Green Frogs calling from a nearby pond, but the water cooled us off and it felt good, even though we were part of a disgusting humanity stew at the moment. We played Zaat! With Personal Space Issues, a new game we made up, and enjoyed being cool for an hour. When we got out, I said Fuck The Cape, and we headed North.

The Cape was such a drag this day (which was the 4th of July, by the way) that we said "let's go to Myles Standish on the way back"! It couldn't have gotten worse, herp-wise... so why not?!

And I'll tell you; we hit Electric Toadland first and it treated us well! I flipped a small Bullfrog (!)...
and then we racked up a quartet of Fowler's Toads!
standish fowler's

Feeling chuffed, we headed straight to the Ranger's Station to start that trek around Reservoir Pond that we'd started but never finished earlier in the year. The place was filthy with humans, but I think they were waiting for College Pond to open, which was at capacity.

A nice rock pile got us no snakes, but we did find one of my favorite amphibians... a Four Toed Salamander!
These guys are always a real treat!

The walk around the pond was super buggy, especially since I had sweat through everything I was wearing as soon as I stepped out of the car. We hoped to get up near the water... but these guys said we could not come close.

At one point, we saw a group of the friendliest Sun Fish of all time! They all swam up to us and waited for... food. I flicked a couple of ants into the water which they gobbled right up.

Well, to make a long story short, we saw no snakes. Of course. In fact, on this 3.1 mile hike, we saw a few more toads, but nothing else. Here are some of the toads:

So, here I was again... just a few short hours since my diatribe about target species and the like, making an agonizing journey along this never-ending path that seemed to lead nowhere. I had those fucking biting flies landing on me, sucking blood from scratches, sweat from my skin and tears from my eyes. I started naming each fly David Clayton Thomas. It was pretty miserable. When we reached the car, it was air-conditioned nirvana. We're not going back out into that 95° hell!

As we drove out, we passed a place that we wanted to look at. Oops. I guess we still had some herping left in us. This was Three Corner Pond and we just wanted to walk the length of it and see if anyone was up and about.

It was so hot and sticky that turtles were not basking. They would poke their heads up from time to time, but they were so tough to photograph that way. Andrea saw a hatchling, but we were unable to secure him for photos. I finally saw this Green Frog at the water's edge.

There was a small hatchling Painted motoring along about 15 feet out. I managed this picture of the determined little swimmer...

A larger head popped up too...

Andrea found a Fowler's sitting in a dug-out. It looked a bit like Vic Diaz.

On the way out, we passed a pond that actually had some Painteds basking! They scattered when we tried to stop and get a shot... these are two of the culprits' noggins.

We saw some turkeys on the way out, too...

So, to recap: the Cape was such a drag that morning that we went to our nemesis park Myles Standish (I just don't know how you can have such good luck there, Amy! The place continually baffles us!) Hours and hours of high temperature/ high humidity hiking got us no snakes and very little else, except for soaking wet clothing and a myriad of bug bites!

Could it be that the snakes are actually smarter than us? They don't bother going out when it's this hot? That could be... nobody ever said herpers were intelligent! Because, when all is said and done... herpers just gotta herp!

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