Monday, April 7, 2014

Saturday Night's Alright for Herping! 4-5-2014

After the previous day's Snake-A-Rama in 45° temps, we felt pretty good about the forecast for Saturday... rainy in the morning but warming in the afternoon... into the mid-50s. We planned a trip to Boyden, our first of the year, fully knowing that this place can be late to get going in the Spring. I think we would have done a bit better had the sun stayed out for more than a minute at a time. But it didn't.

We arrived at a bit before noon and immediately checked to see if the ramshackle garage's roof was still intact. Yes, but barely!
Yes, I flipped inside. One of these times it will kill me, but I'll die doing what I love!

Things had been rearranged here and there, a common thing that we have to get used to every Spring. The garden gave us our first herp, a speedy little Redback that was tough to get a clear shot of:

The crocuses were in bloom...
I desperately wanted to find an animal to pose with these blooms but we were denied.

Very early on, we could already hear Spring Peepers peeping. They were out in the reeds in the middle of the river, but we could hear them loud and clear. The river, and indeed all of the water, was very high.

Redbacks have seemed to be a little scarce so far this year... I mean, check out last years January and March posts... tons! But 2014 has been slim. So, it did our hearts good to see quite a few this day.
april redbacks

When the sun would come out from behind the clouds, it felt plenty warm, but it just couldn't decide to stay out so it never really got warm enough for reptiles. I'm sure some snakes poked their noggins out here and there, but we saw nothing. Still, I could work on my Big Year of birds, and got to add a few... like #38- the Bufflehead!
#38 Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola )
That's a female on the left and a male in the foreground. In the back is a pair of #39, Ring-necked Ducks! Here's their own picture.
#39 Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

Andrea flipped this lovely burgundy colored Redback:

I added another bird... Big Year #40- the Mute Swan!
#40 Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
The wake in front of it is from the Canada Goose he's chasing away!

With this flip, I put a moratorium on Redback photos. It made me happy to do that... that means we were seeing too many to count! It's about time.

Mmmmm. Skunk cabbage anyone?

So, in addition to tons of peepers, we heard Wood Frogs calling all day too. The vernal that we usually call "Green Frog pond" was hoppin' big time this afternoon.

There was a ton of action, but the crafty 'phibs would always keep to the other side of the pond, even when we moved over. I couldn't get any decent photos. This Wood Frog floated by about 50 feet away for my only ID-able shot!

So, we only herped for about 4 hours, but we had planned to head over to Borderland (which was technically on the way home) to partake in their annual Vernal Pool Walk. A chance to see Borderland after dark?? You kidding me? Of COURSE we wanted to go!

So, we ate Mandarin Buffet (!) and decided to hit Walmart for some extra sweatshirts and stuff. That was a genius idea! It never got as warm as we'd hoped during the day and the nighttime promised frozen asses without another layer.

So, we got to Borderland a bit after 7PM and caught the end of a Power Point presentation (!) on vernal pond critters. Then we hit the trail with a couple of dozen others, mostly children, to look into the pools. The pool that we call "Water Snake pool" (due to an excellent photo session with a cooperative Nerodia last year) was our destination. Again, we could hear peepers in the distance.

Frankly, there were a ton of people around this relatively small pond so there wasn't much to do without getting in the way. I let the kids look around. One kid flipped a Redback who really didn't want to be photographed... I could only manage this.

Eventually, one kid (who had shimmied out on a log overhanging the pond) hit paydirt. A huge pile of Wood Frog eggs!
Nice! This perked everyone up! Our host, Kyla Bennet, then found a few Spotted Salamander masses. Tough to photograph for sure, but you get the idea:

We then all marched out towards the Mansion to check on another vernal. The peepers were getting deafening, so we took a slight detour towards the source. We started looking around a great place (that will remain unnamed) and started to see some animals!

I chipped in with this good sized Spotted Salamander.

At the same time, Kyla had found a Pickerel Frog, who was settled into a bucket for observation.
That's a really pretty one too!

While I was taking the Pickerel's picture, this gorgeous golden Redback was walking right along next to the bucket!

Finally, a Spring Peeper posed himself nicely for photos. My "throat sac out" photo was blurry but I'm happy with this deflated shot all the same.

So, we slogged back and got ready to go. What a wonderful evening! Many thanks to Borderland Park for hosting this event. We had a lot of fun and got to see some wonderful animals.

But it was now almost 9, which means we'd been out for about 10 hours. And despite sometimes trying to, the cats can't feed themselves. So we went home, fed them, showered, and passed out, resting up for another day in the field the following day.


  1. That was a great time! I'm glad we did it.

    1. Me too!

      It's hard hitting comments like the one I just made that makes this blog essential reading.

  2. Veo que están sanos y felices.....yo también lo estoy por ustedes!! cariños, Martha

    1. Muchas gracias, Martha! Estamos muy contentos de estar de vuelta a la naturaleza!