Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Baker's Dozen 8-24-2013

One bad thing about having so many new places to herp in our rotation is that we sometimes go a long time before revisiting our favorites! Such has been the case with one of our very favorite spots, the Toadiest Place on Earth in Bristol County! We hadn't been for a while and were delighted with the forecast (high 70s!!) so we couldn't wait to get there!

We arrived a bit after 9 AM and got right to work. I had a brand new 42-Zoom Nikon with me (the old one was was deemed unfixable) that I had to figure out but I was rarin' to go. Our first herp, not surprisingly, was a wee Fowler's Toad.

We got to the Picnic Table Area and discovered that our constant war with bike guys and assholes is still going on; our boards were moved and/ or not put back into place, though most were at least present. Some of our best boards weren't even laying down. Andrea improved the atmosphere with the flip of a new Garter Snake!
This cute little guy made us all warm and fuzzy feeling!

On another flip at the same area, Andrea got her hands on a black tail, and started gently extricating its owner. I saw more and more orange appear... she'd grabbed a nice Ringneck Snake!
We were off to a good start!

Many Fowler's Toads, many sizes, many colors...
bristol fowlerii

A bit further up, I saw a small shoestring garter dart under a log. I flipped all over the area, that log and others nearby, but couldn't find him. Returning everything to position, I found our first ever (in this park) Spotted Salamander!
Most of one, anyway! I thought that I might have broken his tail off when moving the log, but couldn't find it anywhere and, upon closer inspection, it looked as though this youngster had lost it a few days earlier.
So, I missed my snake but found a new species for this place! I'll take it!

Lightning-hand Andrea caught this Pickerel who was hopping by, making me think that a double-digit species count might be obtainable!

We got to a favorite rock wall and started flipping... carefully, because these rocks are heavy!!! This very in-the-blue Garter was nestled under one.
He was super sweet... with me, if a bit musky.
I handed him to Andrea, who he immediately bit and started musking again... before wrapping his tail around her fingers.
Upon removing her fingers to release the now perturbed animal, he tightened up and actually tied his own tail into a knot!
I tried poking his tail to make it twitch back through, but no dice. Andrea held his front end while I gently undid the knot. Of course, he musked me again, too. This snake seemed to have a limitless supply.

After that bizarre bit of herp history, we went to the water for some more Amphibian Amour!

We saw Fowlers! (The top one in sooooon phase)


And Bullfrogs!
bristol bulls

These two Fowler's were cute and amusing. So there.

But what of the 42-Zoom, you ask... well, it has a flip-out screen, which I loath, and getting the "target squares" to land on your subject is infuriatingly tough, but having that zoom started to pay off...
Finally, Painted Turtles were within our grasp again!

We had more close ups to get, though. Andrea and I split up for a bit to cover more ground. She photographed these:
4 Pickerels!
bristol pickerels

A Fowler's!

and some begging Sunfish!

While I was able to get shots of a Pickerel and a Fowler's that were both under the same log!

And another Bullfrog.

A few Toads and a missed Garter Snake later, we were high up, overlooking the pond. Hello, Mr. 42-Zoom! Do your thing!
And those, my dear, are eight Painted Turtles that we would not have seen last week!

We decided to take the long trails, even though we haven't seen anything on them in quite some time. Not too far in, a Garter crossed the path! I made a heroic lunge and caught him for close-ups, only slightly redeeming myself for two earlier missed ones.
A real beauty who nipped at first, but calmed nicely.

This next set of photos, the Pickerel and the pale Fowler's, are included only because we both took a shit-load of shots of them and none came out very good. I present them here simply because of the effort we put into trying to get them!

We got back down near the water and photographed some of our perennial favorite Painted basking spots. They came through again!
Can you tell that I've been missing my chelonian pals?!

Salamanders aren't a big part of this park so when I flipped this Redback down by some running water, I was pretty psyched!
This put us at 8 species... double digits were in our sights!

Unfortunately, a pretty decent Water Snake spot came up empty. This Bullfrog brightened us up, though!

We decided (as we usually do) to double back some spots on the way out. It had been over 5 hours since we last flipped the wall, so we went back. Lo and behold, under the biggest and heaviest rock was a very small Ribbon Snake! Andrea made a great lunge to get him for close-ups!
They were so much in love that I almost felt like a third wheel!

After releasing him, we flipped a few more rocks. Oops... we re-flipped our knot-tailed Garter again! He shifted a bit, so we had to remove him before putting the rock back into place. Sorry 'bout that. ol' Musky!

Well, the Ribbon made it 9 species and the bog across from the parking lot is usually good for an as-yet-unseen-today Green Frog, so we were felling pretty confident. Then we flipped our first American Toads of the day and hit 10 anyway!
American Toad Gothic. We're only missing a pitchfork.

I flipped a log and saw some plump designs roll into a divot. I got very excited, thinking I might have a Marbled Salamander or something... I could barely suppress my chuckles when I pulled this out!
I said we'd have to hurry because I didn't want this ambitious little Garter to upchuck what might have been his first meal! Hey, where's that Spotted Salamander now?

Here's an interesting Pickerel... his columns of blotches have each fused into a long blotch! We're naming this new subspecies Lithobates Palustrus Howletti.

Already chuffed to be at 10 species and having found a few more snakes, we headed out, through the Black-eyed Toad area. We saw none, but we did see Ribbon Snake #2 of the day!!
Man, we love these guys!
A fine figure of a Ribbon... pencil thin and about 2 feet long!

Stopping at a spot near the water again, we saw a Pickerel bound off and a small toad jump across some slime at water's edge. I scooped him up and got a big surprise. A Black Eyed Toad!! In a different spot!
What we hadn't noticed on other specimens (but they might have had it... I don't know) was a translucent belly!
We could see his little pink lungs and his teeny pink heart beating!!!

Now, according to his warts and parotoid glands, I'd say he was an American Toad.
But with this guy, you just never know. The bigger ones from earlier in the year were Fowler's, I believe. Who knows what's going on here?!

So, we were happy to cap the day with this mysterious toad! We headed over to the bog area for a quick look-see.

It was pretty dry (the whole place was low on water, in fact) but in one pondy part, I saw some movement, then something light swimming away under the murky water. It looked like the belly of a Snapping Turtle or something. Whatever it was, it was nibbling on a floating mouse carcass. Mmmmm....

Nearby, I found what I was looking for... some Green Frogs! Species #11!
bristol greens

Before heading to the car, I snuck up on the spot where something had evaded me 5 minutes before... I saw a noggin and snapped a picture before it disappeared...
It appears that our capper was a Snapper! Species #12!

We'd earned Mandarin Buffet and we got it. My plan was to eat so much that I'd resemble the stuffed Garter baby. After chowing down, we checked out Oliver Mills on the way home but saw no herps. I did, however, pee under a bridge about 10 feet from a woman who was enjoying the place and had no clue I was there.

That night, we went to a gathering of friends at our neighbor's (and great great friend's) house. Of course, we just couldn't help ourselves. We flipped a Dekay and then another (a nice orangey one)...
And later, to show Ida, our favorite 2-year old, we gathered up a third Dekay for the night.

So 13 species! A baker's dozen of herps!! It was a happy reunion with a 42-Zoom, this particular Bristol County park and, as always, with our friends that evening!


  1. ¡Lindas manos...lindo todo!!!Cariñosx2 Martha

    1. Lo sé, Martha! Parece que hay más fotos de las manos aquí que hay fotos de animales! XXOO!