Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Blue Ribbon day, without the blues. 8-11-2013

The day started off with poopiness... the 42-Zoom camera was on the blink again. With heavy heart, I pulled out the crappy ol' Kodak and wrote off any turtle shots for the day. We were planning on going to our friend Steve's favorite place in Worcester County. Oh well... should a Blanding's appear, we'd have to hope for a close-up encounter.

We got there before 9 AM and hit the trails. Steve said he had been there recently and saw lots of frogs, including Northern Leopards, a species we'd never seen here before! The water had receded since our last trip here and we were able to walk out on the mud for a good 20 or 30 feet. There weren't any turtles up (that we could see) but it was very froggy!

There were Greens!
green 1

There were Pickerels!
pickerel 1

There were Greens and Pickerels having a chat together!

There were all sizes of Bulls!
bull 1
I love the above shot... just a large frog noggin dead center!

We got back up to the trail and headed on... Pickerels were abundant still!
pickerel 2

Frogs were darting off of the path. A Garter sped off, too. We got a good look at a bright green Leopard Frog! But we didn't get a picture of him! No worries, we thought... there would be plenty more.

There wasn't a one...

The 42-Zoom's abilities are far greater than just getting far away shots. It's also good for shooting through leaves and sticks, focusing on the subject. We needed it, but Andrea's camera stepped up... this Painted Turtle was hiding, but not hidden!

These seven guys stayed up long enough for this panoramic shot... 3 others had just slid off.

Two more Bullfrogs sat by, completely ignoring us.
bull 2

I had stupidly said upon our arrival that I had a target species... Ribbon Snakes. That is usually the kiss of death. Not this time, though! A Ribbon was just laying there, waiting for me to pick him up for close-ups!
Proud Papa...

Well, that was nice!! The next herp, a squeaky clean (literally) Garter who posed nicely for us!
He has some interesting markings on his belly and sides... black spots! This is not fungus or anything... this snake looked to be in superb shape. Just cool markings.

Of course, this place is one we consider a sure-fire Water Snake place! But we had seen none so far! Granted, brush had grown thick along the water's edge, but we still thought we'd score. Finally, on a den that Steve had shown us before, a very chubby and slightly ragged Water Snake let us handle her gently.
She looks like she might be ready to pop and check out that hole in her side...
She also had a stump tail that was ragged... it must have been fresh enough where it hasn't had time to heal over and smooth out yet.
I might also add that she was a total sweetheart... no nips, strikes or musk. She just let us take pictures, then she slid back to her den.

The beavers in the area have dams all over (that Water Snake den is under an old one). This new one was built right on the trail!

Luck was on our side. I saw a plant wiggle and inspected it and found another Ribbon!
Hot damn!

As expected, turtles had been a problem. My little pocket camera did the best it could with this Painted...
Another one had just slid off.

These two look as though they're basking on the thick duck weed!

This Bullfrog was 30+ feet away from us. We squinted at it... that can't be a Bullfrog! It's HUGE! Well, it sure is a Bullfrog! And yes, it is HUGE!

We turned back when we reached a bridge with a tree across it. Seemed like a good spot. Andrea spied this gorgeous Green Frog!

She next found this bright, colorful and shy young Garter!

At one point around here, we missed another Ribbon! Damn!

How thick was the duck weed? Only this Bull (I'm guessing) knows for sure...

Andrea spotted yet another of these Green beauties! I had walked right past him!

I found this perfect Garter Skin, though!

We walked back out onto the muddy spot to look again. There was a Garter strolling along and I made my most manly, heroic lunge for him, but came up empty handed. I photographed two nice young Greens, though!
green 2

Andrea got this shot that I inexplicably love... an inscrutable Bullfrog...

So, we were keeping our eyes peeled for a Leopard Frog, the one that we'd missed was looming large. I'd hoped for a 10 species day, but we'd stalled at 7. Suddenly, a frog jumped right into Andrea's leg! She almost stepped on it! We got a good look and saw species #8... a Wood Frog!!

So all in all, this is a very successful trip for us! Any day that you get to see 8 species of herps is a winner! I regret the loss of the 42 Zoom and eagerly await its repair and return. That said, we did A-OK and had a blast!

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