Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sunday, October 20 - Mike's Got the Sick; I've Got the Blues

Mike and I were toying with the idea of going over to the SE side of the Blue Hills on Sunday to explore some of the rocky outcroppings for things we don't always get to see.  Mike, however, caught the cold that I had had the week before, only he caught it way worse.

I had already made up my mind that we were going to stay very close; within the county or just into Norfolk county.  I knew that Matt, a local student and fellow herper, wanted to look at the farm close to us for blue-spotted salamanders before they went into hibernation, so I had already PMd him asking if he wanted to go with us.  In the meantime, Mike had already made the decision that he was Too Sick to Herp (yes, there IS such a thing), and asked me, "If I decided to not go out today, would you still go out?"  No, that wasn't his way of guilt-tripping me into staying home with him; it was his way of telling me that he would drag his sick carcass out of bed and accompany me herping if I said that I wouldn't go out without him.  So, Matt and I made plans to meet up at the farm and do some flipping!

Last time we were there (with Steve), the vernal was mostly mud, with a few puddles, and flipping away from the vernal was producing both blue- and yellow-spotted salamanders.  This time, the first productive flip was in the muddy vernal, which had dried up a bit in the past two weeks.  Matt flipped a really pretty blue-spotted (in the flesh, the blue didn't show up too much but the flash really brought it out):


Ten minutes later, he flipped another one!


Ten minutes after that, I flipped a log and found a jet-black, completely spotless (I think) blue-spotted!



This one may be melanistic, or just, well, spotless.  Or it may not even be a blue-spotted and may be a spotless regular spotted salamander.  I'm open to opinions there.

(On a side note, if you ever want to fall down a very interesting scientific rabbit hole, look at some of the articles regarding how blue-spotted and Jefferson salamanders hybridize and all the crazy genome stuff involving them -- explained a little in wikipedia here.)

A spotted salamander was also flipped (by Matt, I think) in the vernal area:


Matt also flipped a wood frog:


I wanted to check out the other vernal -- the one that Mike and I refer to as "Sly's pond" because we found Sly Sirtalis near there last March in 32 degree weather.  We checked out a few spots along the way and maybe flipped a couple of redbacks (that neither of us photographed).  Once we were in the dried vernal, and the flips weren't producing, I suddenly saw Matt take a dive for something:


YAY! GARTER SNAKE!  It wasn't thrilled at being handled, as evidenced by the flat head.  Once I took it, I of course got musked.  Pee-yew!  Matt noticed a sizeable lump in its midsection -- probably the blue-spotted salamander Mike found here a couple of weeks ago!

I managed to find a really pretty spotted salamander; I like the two connected spots on its side:


Matt did another lunge while walking along the path (hey, this isn't much different than herping with Mike, after all!).  What he lunged after took me by surprise.


Dude, it's a ribbon!  In Suffolk County (i.e., Boston city limits!)!  It's a new record for the county!


It had a scar on its back that broke up its stripe...good way to identify it, if I should ever find one again here:



I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't a little jealous -- I love getting new county records!  What I love more, however, is proof of a species' existence within the city limits.  I really need to do something with the information -- an article, perhaps, or see if I can use it for some sort of educational purposes.  I've been playing with these ideas since last winter; we'll see where they go.

So much of the former wetlands were drying up; the vernal had some dead tadpoles where there were puddles two weeks ago.  One former brook now had a couple of puddles in it; one of which was occupied:


Bullfrog or green frog?  I couldn't get close enough to tell.

We went through part of the park that was once a landfill; it's got a paved path that is lined with rocks that house garter and water snakes.  We saw nothing, but a woman said a large water snake had been sunning itself on the path earlier.  With all the dogs running around, I doubted it was still there.

I got back home around 4 p.m., and Mike was laying down as he should be.  He was also blown away by the ribbon snake, and happy that I had gotten out to herp without him.


  1. that's a really pretty ribbon. i didnt take note of how good looking it was when we found it

  2. Beautiful Sals and Snakes and Frogs!! I wish I was with you guys!! Next time!

  3. Good work you too! And good work staying home Mike. I know it's hard.

    1. I wish I saw that last Ribbon of 2013!! I'm hoping for a warm snap.

  4. ¡Pobre Mike!!!¡Te perdiste la salamandra azul!!!Que te mejores. Cuando estés bien andá al correo.que ya es la fecha de la encomienda.----y si querés ver una" vamp", mirá mi blog.Un beso x 2 Martha