Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back in the saddle again! 8-18-2013

After Saturday's less than impressive animal count, we were hoping that our trip to a beloved Bristol County park would put us back on track. The weather would be good and as we parked at about 8:30 AM, we had plenty of time and opportunity to find success!

Things started off frustratingly enough when I couldn't get a good shot of this Bullfrog...
The 42-Zoom is still in the shop...

I missed a gorgeous, small, red Wood Frog... he just disappeared, but this American Toad was a fine consolation gift.

When Andrea came here last time (without me... read about it here), there was a large Water Snake resting on one of the inlets. There was one this day too! Same one? I don't know, but she was large and either ready to pop of full of yummies!
We were able to sneak right up to her to photos without bothering her.

Hey, look! Another American Toad! Mmmm... caramel!

We flipped some Redbacks and were careful to not let them escape the camera, like one had yesterday!
border pleth

The 42-Zoom was again missed when we saw some basking Painted Turtles in the distance...
But hey, we were up to 5 species in a short time, way better than yesterday already!

We got to our favorite Water Snake place and I quickly found a nice medium sized chap...
We played with him a little...

I saw a small juvenile Water Snake, bright red saddles and all, but he swam away and, despite much time and effort spent looking and noodling, I was unable to find him. While I was doing this, Andrea saw more Painteds, too far away for a great shot... but this one works!

I was coming out of the water to sit and eat some Pop Corners with Andrea when I saw another Water Snake basking on a hill. As I fumbled with my camera, he sped away. I looked all around, both in and around the water, but didn't find him.

The fish enjoy Pop Corners too, it seems.

I went to take one last look for the basking Nerodia guy (who might have been the one we caught all dried off... the size was right) when I saw an odd sight for this place... why, it looked like a Ribbon Snake!
Our first ever Ribbon Snake here was in a pricker bush, so extracting him for photos was a delicate operation!
Long and thin and beautiful!

Next up, a couple of more Toads!
border toads

By this time, with plenty more park to go, I started saying (again...) how I'd like to get a double-digit species count! Andrea flipped something that sure helped in that quest... another first for this place... a Four-Toed Salamander! (Not to mention a huge slug!)
He was very patient with us while we did the famous mirror shot.

How about another species... a Wood Frog!

And another... a Spring Peeper!

At this point, at around 8 species, I started going house trying to find a Ringneck, a species that we have found two of in this general area. More interesting was this carcass Andrea spotted...
Clearly a hatchling Milk Snake, which would be another new species here... so I stepped up the search for a live one. Milk Jerky might count on the database, but not on this blog!

Andrea sat it out for a minute, removing prickers and being accosted by a Homer-Simpson-looking dragonfly. (UPDATE- the Homerfly is a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis Simplicicollis)! Thanks, Conrad! (At least I had the Simp part right...)

She also photographed this crazy caterpillar that I'm still trying to ID!
THIS JUST IN! My friend Steve NewEnglandHerps has revealed that this is a Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar (Euchaetes egle)!!

I flipped a Redback and put him on top of the log to photograph him... he crawled into a crevice.

We decided to try out a new part of this place... there are many areas and trails here that we've not tried. This field turned up a duo of best friends... an American Toad and a Spring Peeper...
Besties 4-eva!

The trail led to a beautiful, pastoral area with a (low) pond and green grass.

We explored this new area for a while, then headed back out onto our regular path. We were welcomed back by this Rhinoceros Beetle!
Rhinocerous Beetle

At one point, I saw (and unsuccessfully lunged for) a small, dark Garter Snake, who evaded me and disappeared into a bush covered with dried, cut grass. But we did find this little Toad Engine that could...

With that missed Garter looming large, our success in finding double-digit species seemed to be in peril... until Andrea saw this Garter Snake on a hill!
garter clown
He was full of spit and vinegar and personality! And a meal!

Another addition to our bizarre caterpillar folder... a Spicebush Swallowtail!
I didn't even know these were around here!

This little Redback has his work cut out for him if he's planning on nomming down on this earthworm!

Very conscious of our herp-count, I saw this little spotted frog hop in front of me and prayed to be able to get a shot... I did.
I was calling Pickerel until I got a close look...
It's another new species here... a Northern Leopard Frog. I know the two are very similar, but this guy has creamy white belly and thighs, green on him and scattered spots. Fecking Leopard!

Well, that was cool. We'd reached our double digits!

We got back to one of the Water Snake areas where we had looked (unsuccessfully) earlier and I saw a medium sized guy poking around some lily pads, looking for a meal. Andrea got this shot!

She also pointed out that right next to me, basking on a rock surrounded by leaves, was an in-the-blue Garter! I tried to get a shot but as soon as he saw me, he was outta there! I tried to make an attempt at the Water Snake but missed and found myself up to my knees in muck. Blerch!

I redeemed my poor Bullfrog shot from the beginning with a couple of other lovely specimens...
border bulls

Well, we had found eleven species (and a piece of Milk Jerky) so we were thrilled! And then we saw #12... a bright and shiny Green Frog! He held still for Andrea's superior camerawork.

Well, this sure made up for yesterday's poor showing!! We'd spent nearly 7 hours exploring, flipping and having a blast! This will be one of those days that we look back on this winter and remember how satisfying herping can be!


  1. I think my favorites this time are the two caterpillars - they're so different from each other and both so striking.

    1. I know! We feel so lucky to have found such colorful beauties!