Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bristol Whipped! 4-19-2014

It should first be noted that Andrea found our #47 bird of the Big Year on Friday, April 18th... a Barred Owl!
#47 Barred Owl (Strix varia)
He was hanging around the Prudential Tower in Boston and Andrea was quick enough to get a phone shot! I have still not seen a Barred Owl in the feather this year, but I have heard them.

Mixed weather reports had us scratching our heads as to where to head out on Saturday. Cooler temps (high 50s?) but sunny was what we wound up with. We really wanted to get back to one of our favorite herp spots in Bristol County; a place that is rich with Chelonian beauty. So, being sunny, we headed there... arriving at roughly 11 AM. Loud chirping in the parking lot had us looking up and we found #48, a Chipping Sparrow.
#48 Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)
Having watched Goldfinger the night before, I kept calling this guy Odd Job. He looks like him, I think.

So our typical snake spots were snakeless, but we turned up a bunch of Redback Salamanders, who were late to arrive this year but are now abundant again!
^Stubby there looks like he's in danger of being nommed on by that worm!

We could hear Pickerel Frogs calling much of the hike but we never saw one! We did see a few Bull Frogs, however... our first of 2014!

Down by a pond, I saw a Garter Snake slip into the reeds and out of sight. I waited at the ready with the camera on for him to come up, but he never did! Escaped! That's too bad, as he is the only snake we saw all day! Considering it was 30° 3 days earlier, I'm not too surprised. But I kicked myself all day for not getting a shot (even thought it would have been nearly impossible). He was a big beauty, too.

We had to console ourselves with a Red and a Lead!

A spot that is often flooded was... flooded. Being a favorite part of this place, I said to hell with the cold water and went wading. This was Turtle Country and I wanted to try to get a shot of turtles! This was all I managed from this spot though, a Painted being photobombed by a Mute Swan (who was #40 a few weeks ago).

While I was out in the water, Andrea flipped another First Of Year... a Fowler's Toad!
This scrawny little fella was not yet ready for Spring!

But we had come for turtles, so we went on and started seeing them. Lots of them. This picture, even though it sucks, has 9 Painted Turtles in it! I thought I was photographing just the one on the stump!

So, I went closer to the water's edge at places where I had some cover and finally got some good turtle shots!

We took a trail that has produced Garter Snakes in the past. The sun was warm and it was pleasant (and there was at least one Garter up in this county!) but we saw none. We again consoled ourselves with a reliable Redback!
In fact, we were seeing dozens and dozens of Redbacks! That's good news!

We also stumbled across a vernal pond that had some salamander eggs in it!
There were a number of small frogs in this pond too, but they were too fast for our eyes and cameras. Just a splash and they were gone, hidden under the leaves under the water.

Back up on the trail overlooking the water, we saw plenty of shells basking again. And it looks like our old Redbellied pal from last year was back, too!

While making my way down to get a better shot of him, I saw many more Painteds vying for a sunny spot!

Here's a front shot!
The guy on the far left also appears to be a Redbelly. This is our first encounter with this species this year!

This is a picture of me being happy:

This is why I'm happy!

So, no snake photos but we got what we came for... turtles! Two species, too! We ended the day with our #49 Big Year bird... an Eastern Phoebe!
#49 Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)

"Just a short trip" we said. Well, it wasn't our usual 7 hour jaunt through this place, but we spent 6 1/2. I'd better get into better shape for the "long trips" we'll be planning later in the year!

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