Friday, March 21, 2014

March Madness

I refuse to let this shitstorm of a winter beat me, though it's doing a very good job of doing just that. Friends who live a few states to the south of us have started finding herps, but it's still the land of ice and snow up here in New England. This winter has been a major test and I'm afraid I've been failing.

I have, however, been trying. Why, just last week... Tuesday, March 11th, to be exact, it got over 40° and it was sunny, so I headed over to Cutler after work. I got there at about 4 PM and it was sunny, but still pretty icy. Racer Alley and the tracks were in the sun, so I went on. To be truthful, it was warm when the sun was hitting you and I wouldn't be at all surprised if some squamate noggins poked out of the rocks to sniff the air, but I saw none. I did, however, get Big Year #32, the Eastern Bluebird.
#32 Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis )
It was pretty exciting, as I don't think I've ever actually seen one before, despite how common they supposedly are!

I heard zillions of Red-winged Blackbirds, too. I finally got a couple of decent shots, making them #33.
#33 Red-winged Blackbird ( Agelaius phoeniceus)
My favorite sound of spring!

So, I saw a bunch of birds, but no herps.

The next day (March 12th) , it was again over 40°, but cooler and rainy. I thought I'd swing by Brook to see if there were any confused salamanders. It was still super-icy, so I doubted any Ambystoma would be up. I was right, but I did see one brave Redback!

Over the weekend, we had a pretty busy schedule. We got our new Herp-Mobile (thanks to the generosity of our friend Dave Z!) and had little time to herp. But, we swung by Brook anyhoo. It was chilly and nothing was out. Over by Sly's home, Andrea flipped a Redback who skittled down a hole in quick order.

Thursday, March 20th was a warm day. I was stuck going to the dentist after work but when I got home, there was a frantic message from Andrea... someone had seen a Garter at Cutler, so she wanted to head right over to Brook ASAP! We hooked up quickly and headed over. Alas, it had become fairly cool  and sunless by the time we got there (about 6:15 PM.) Happily, Andrea flipped the same rock as the previous visit and the Redback was there, waiting for its photo!
That is her first official Redback of the year, so that is awesome!

We also saw the remnants of a Garter Snake, probably from before the snow really hit last year.

Sadly, this pond is indicative of how much of the place still looks. (That is, in fact, Sly's pond... and Redback Rock's pond!)

Today, Friday March 21st, it is cold and windy. Roughly 40°- 45° at best. I had many errands, but I stopped at Brook on the way out just to be sure. Nuthin'.

On the way back, at roughly 1:30 PM, it was a bit sunny, so I stopped by again before going home. No snakes out (I'm really not surprised) but Redback Rock had these two twins under it...a Red and a Lead!
These guys were teeny tiny and cute as salamander shaped buttons!

So, there are thoughts of "Big Night" this weekend, where Salamanders might move. Maybe a 50- 50 chance on the weather cooperating. We're VERY ready. This winter has been brutal and the only cure for these housebound blues is HERPS!

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