Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No, No, Thamnophis! 8-25-2013

Another spot that we hadn't been anywhere near in a while was a Wildlife Refuge in Middlesex County. Home of some herps that we have a tough time seeing elsewhere, its always an exciting hike. Even when we get there as late as *gasp* 9AM!

I was hoping to get some good use of the new 42-Zoom camera but, much to our alarm, the water level was super low. It looks as though they're doing some irrigation on one side to raise levels back up. They did this last year on the other side, so I guess they know what they're doing. Turtles were going to be at a minimum.

We were actually able to walk out between the reeds to the soggy water's edge. Most of the frogs saw us coming, but I managed a couple of Bullfrogs who stood their ground.

Andrea came over to my side and showed me this... a gorgeous Leopard Frog that had stayed near the path.

Then she joined me for a nice Bullfrog shot of her own!

Back up on the path, we saw a frog jump past... a Pickerel! Not as common in this land of Leopards!

Turtles were going to be extremely difficult to see, unfortunately. The water line was very far away. Bullfrogs were going to savef the day, though... at least for the first leg of the journey! They were out in all sizes, enjoying the lily-pads.
lily pad bulls

Even some large Bullfrog Tadpoles were swimming around!

Just hangin'...

This place is well-loved by us for having an extremely healthy population of Leopard Frogs, a species that goes from difficult to impossible to find in most of our herping spots. There were dozens hopping out of our way as we walked along the path. Here are three that we managed to get shots of:
leopard a

We reached a spot with some big but flippable rocks. Usually, it was very wet right here and we could flip some moist frogs but not today. But I did flip this chocolaty beauty, who was quite unexpected... a Northern Water Snake!
He was super feisty and he musked and bit me several times. And I mean he bit me!

Of course, in an exact switch from the blue-eyed Garter from the day before, he turned into Mr. Gentle when I handed him to Andrea.

Further along, where the river was low, it was pretty muddy. This left some interesting footprints for us... this looks like a raccoon and a heron.

I was walking along, keeping an eye out for Garter Snakes and completely missed this Painted Turtle basking! No need for the zoom, Andrea got this shot nicely!

Howza 'bout a few more Leopard Frogs?!

We got to a new inlet to the river, one that we had always missed because we'd take a different trail. Well, that trail was closed this day, so we checked out the inlet. We found our fourth frog species there when I flipped a small Green Frog!

Andrea, perhaps feeling badly that the Water Snake didn't want to bite her, picked up this Crayfish and let it pinch her.
Surprise! These fuckers hurt!

I found another Green who wanted some lap time.

On the way back to the trail, I heard a thump and turned to see Andrea on the ground. She had lunged for a small, black shoestring snake and had just missed it, but her knee had found a root. She banged it up pretty good. We searched for the little snake, but couldn't find it. She got up, in some pain, but we carried on.

One problem with going this new way is that we kept scaring in Painted Turtles who were basking next to the path. We could get the shots from the other trail but not here. They were too fast. These two threw us a bone.

On a nice little area surrounded by water, I was about 10 feet ahead of Andrea when I heard another thump! I turned around and she was on the ground again. Despite an injured knee, she had made a valiant lunge for a large Water Snake that I had somehow walked right past! She got a few fingers on her, but she slid towards the water. Luckily, being a water Snake, she didn't go far and in fact started to move back towards us, enabling us to get a few shots.
This is a big ol' Water Snake... maybe its best she didn't grab her. This one would have bitten the living daylights out of us!

This wee Painted posed patiently while I attempted to photograph it. I'm just not used to the new camera!

Having broken the seal on Greens, we started seeing more!

Another thing that we learned taking this part of the trail backwards is that some of it is on private property! Oops, it seems we have been trespassing a bit in the past. I saw someone blatantly trespassing and took his picture, in hopes of ratting him out to the authorities.

Unfortunately, Andrea saw this clown trespassing while photographing a trespasser and things got confusing...

This Painted wasn't impressed by any of it.

We had seen some more snakes that eluded us... some speedy Garters and I saw (and missed) one of Andrea's teeny black shoestrings. Were these darker guys Ribbons? They were too quick for me to see, but maybe. We have never seen them here before.

I don't know about anyone else, but I need more Leopard Frogs!

A couple of more Painteds!

A Kilroy phase Green Frog!

With our inability to photograph either a Garter or Ribbon or whatever (putting the NO in thamNOphis) it was becoming clear that we wouldn't hit double-digit species this time out! A nice surprise was this American Toad, though!
I think he's our first in this place!

To end things off, as we were getting very hot and tired and hungry after 5 hours, I triumphantly got another Pickerel shot!

I love this place and I'm he-man enough to admit that it kinda kicked my ass this day! Seven species is nothing to sneeze at, though and just the sheer quantity of beautiful Leopard Frogs makes this place a favorite in our rotation!

1 comment:

  1. I didn't hit my knee on a root...I hit my knee on a mother-jumping ROCK. It hurt so much I broke a sweat. Why haven't I trolled for sympathy on that?