Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New places, new faces. 4-12-2014

We have been wanting to try out a couple of new spots, particularly one that we're told is good for Spotted Turtles. We asked a herp friend if she wanted to check this place out with us and she and her husband agreed... Spotteds would be a lifer for her!

It was supposed to be wet in the morning with the sun coming out before noon. We made our meet-up plans for 10-10:15 AM. With this place being in Norfolk County and not far from us at all, we arrived a bit early. It was sunny, not wet at all. T-shirts only, baby! Yeah!!

Upon arrival, I noticed a little stream near the parking area. It looked good for Two-Lined Salamanders. It was! We found three without trying hard at all!
Our friend, who is a salamander fan, arrived and we told her about the stream. Of course, she wanted to see some and promptly flipped a few herself!
(Blech, my contribution to this shot was a handful of silt...)

So we started in on the trail and pretty quickly we saw a basking turtle. From a distance, it sure looked like a Painted. It wasn't until later, after we got out of the sun to look at the pictures, that we realized we'd found a Spotted Turtle! Her first ever and our first in 362 days!

Nice!! This young Painted Turtle was sitting nearby.

Leopard Frogs could be heard calling from all directions, so we kept peering into the water's edge, hoping to see one. We didn't, but we managed to see this Green Frog, who looks like he just got up from hibernation!
Our first of the year!

A Garter had darted past us on the trail, but we were all tuned in to turtles so we weren't able to get a photograph. A bit off-trail, however, Andrea soon managed to catch one for photographic purposes!
That is the only shot I could manage on this feisty fellow!

Further up the trail, we saw another Spotted, which we thought was our first one at the time!
It slid in before too long, shy little chelonian that it is!

We reached a cross-path and rested for a moment. An interesting call was beckoning our friend to cross the shallow stream to check up the other path. Peepers were peeping and this call might have been an aberrant peeper call. At any rate, she called us over... she'd found Spotted Newts doin' the dance in the shallow water.

It looked something like this:

Very very cool!

Andrea then turned around and saw this, practically at our feet!
Third Spotted of the day!! And this one was easy to get close-ups of!
This new path was working out well!

I flipped a log looking for salamanders and saw a tail go into the leaves. Picking up a handful of leaves, I saw the owner of the tail... this BEAST!
A squee-worthy Garter shoestring!

Leaving this spot, we came within three inches of stepping on this guy!
Our herp friend made a nice catch and got a good musking for her efforts!

There was some AC scattered around nearby, which saddened me, but I know it always provides good habitat for things. Sure enough, this was Redback Salamander heaven! Many different colors were present and they were all beautiful!

Time flies when you're having fun and the hours were indeed flying by. Our friends had to start heading back, so we all turned around and headed back to the main trail. On the way back, we saw another Garter, half buried in the leaves!

Best of all, a plump American Toad (our first of the year) hopped across the path!

Back at the main path, we bid our farewells to our friends, who are excellent herp partners! They headed back towards the parking area while we continued on. Unfortunately, within 100 yards of where they turned to go back, we saw this magnificent Northern Water Snake, a solid and clean 3-footer!
Just a gorgeous specimen! And we could get a crazy forced perspective shot, too!
"Aye, it's an Anaconda!"
What a stunner!

Soon, I looked back to see Andrea in her catch mode (on her knees, wrestling with a snake) and she had grabbed this guy for close ups!

Next up, we saw this plump American Toad. (Why is it snakes come out of hibernation skinny and ragged looking while toads, like this one, look like they've been eating and showering all winter?!)
This guy is just beautiful and HUGE!
And darn near as sexy as Andrea!

We got near the end (the turning back point) and saw this little beauty posing for us.

After a short break, we headed back and, yes, we saw another Garter!

What a day! We had already seen another Garter somewhere after our friends left, but I can't remember where it fit in and we didn't get a picture. The next guy, however, we photographed the hell out of!
He was beautiful and he was patient. A perfect subject!

We did manage to miss another one somewhere on the way back, but we can hardly complain. We had spent the day in this lovely place and seen nine species!! Our best trip of the year so far! We would have loved to photograph our tenth species, but we'll have to be happy with this recording of the Leopard Frogs calling.

On the way home, as we turned to go into BJ's Wholesale to get some groceries, the pond out beyond the fence had two Painteds enjoying the last sunlight of the day.
The picture is no great shakes but it's through a chain-link fence from the drivers side of the car. Gimme a break!

So, this was a wonderful and memorable day! Herping with like-minded friends and having great success! Target species found! How often do you hear ME say that?! Never! Happy Spring!

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