Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weekday herpin' April 22- 25th

What's a person to do? Weather forecasts for the upcoming week and weekend were looking dire, so I wanted to take a quick walk after work on a Tuesday, while the temps were still in the 60s. I drive past Lost Pond Reservation in Brookline, MA everyday after work, so I thought I'd stop in for a peek. We had only visited here once before and hadn't really seen much of it.

So, I got there around 4 PM and it was just 60° still. Good enough for me. I immediately flipped three different styles of Redbacks!

Being without Andrea, I was going to turn this into an exploratory hike and check the place out for future excursions. One place we had seen before was Lost Pond itself. It was very deep and full. Birds were buzzing about and I could hear a few Gray Tree frogs calling. I looked closely at the surrounding tree limbs to see if any were hiding there in plain sight. Nope. I stepped off the boardwalk for a bit to look closer and noticed this Garter Snake snoozing!
Cool! Unexpected snakes are the best kind!

So, I went up the trail (instead of turning the way we did before) and found lots of interesting terrain. The place is much bigger than I thought and there are some good looking spots, including a lot of stone wall!

I didn't stay too long, but I flipped another nice looking Redback before I left.

So, work has been picking up a bit and we were told we'd be back to full weeks again... meaning I'd have work on Friday! Cool, because my wallet is feeling the pinch. Sadly (well, not too sad here) I finished all of my work and had none left for Friday, so I didn't go in after all. That's OK, because the temps were supposed to be hitting 60 again, after all! So, I went to the Blue Hills to explore a trail that we had turned around on a few weeks ago. I wanted to see where it went if we had forged forward!

So, I got there at about 10:30 AM and it was still pretty chilly. I heard a few early turtles plop into the water as I walked past but saw no herps until this Garter crawled by:
A real beautiful one, who was nice enough to let me catch him and pose him for a picture.

This place has super habitat for Spotted Turtles and we had seen a few last time, so I took a look for some. This guy thought he was giving me the slip!
But he did come out for a close-up or two.

At a very wet spot between two ponds, where a wooden walkway was rotting away, I flipped a piece of the wood and saw a nice Two-Lined Salamander!

Nearby, I flipped a couple of Redbacks.

I got to the place we had turned back before and forged on. It was foresty and dry, with a covering of pine needles. I didn't encounter any animals but I was on an exploratory mission, dammit! I reached the end of the wooded trail and came out to concrete. Civilization, of a sort. It was a work area and in front of me, at the other end of a long drive, was a steam shovel and dump-truck working. I poked around and flipped a bit and got skeeved out by a Raccoon carcass with the bony ribs gleaming in the sun. Yeech!

I went far to the right where there was another long drive, with a building but no-one working at the end. The hiker a few weeks ago told us this was a legal hike. I wasn't so sure.

But there was lots of AC (artificial cover) for animals! A large piece of plywood got me a small, coiled shoestring garter
and his mousy roommate!

As I neared the building, there was a massive black bird atop the apex of the wide roof... lording over what turned out to be two deer carcasses rotting below. I snapped a shot of the impressive bird, what I'm calling a Common Raven instead of a crow. Ruffled chest feathers, size and long, fat beak (which can't be seen well in this shot) have me calling this our #51!
#51 Common Raven (Corvus corax)

I continued on, wanting to get away from the dead deer and went around the other side of the building and could see the highway. The building was one of those massive salt storage units. I walked along the edge of the driveway as I made my way towards the road and I could see where it hooked up with the original path, like I was expecting it to (and hoping it would). Then a cop drove in and I got a bit nervous. They didn't call to me or anything and I just kept walking (and flipping) as if I belonged there, and nothing happened.

But I was really happy to get my arse back onto the trail where I knew I was legal and safe!

Knowing I had a dentists appointment in a couple of hours and not really wanting to have a great trip without Andrea, I picked up the pace and headed towards the car, which was 2 1/2 miles away at the other end of this trail!

On the way out, I saw another Spotted Turtle, this time basking on a log.

And a small Painted Turtle doing the same.
Evidently, it's a Metal turtle... he seems to be throwing the devil-horns with his left hand!

So that was a nice, long exploration! But I wanted to herp with Andrea! It's more pleasant and far easier! So, when she got out of work, I picked her up at the train station and we headed over to a favorite spot near home. We got there at about 6 PM and the temps had definitely dropped a bit. It was barely 60° now. But we were hoping for some frogs and sals, anyway.

We got the second half of that wish right away. Redbacks were found under many a'flip!
brook redbacks

The birds were all very noisy as dusk was approaching. This Norther Flicker (Big Year #52) was banging on a hollow tree making all kinds of racket!
#52 Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

We got up to a rocky spot where the sun had been warming the rocks all day. We flipped a few but never really expected to see anything as it was becoming cool fairly quickly. But Andrea had a magic flip and there were two small Garters coiled up under it! One crawled away, but she caught this guy for photos!
I'm so happy she got to do this!

A few feet away, I flipped this calm guy!

It wasn't until I picked him up to put him back on the rock that he really took offense to being photographed!
Even while at his rock, he turned and once again flattened into a Garter Bookmark and threatened us before returning to the underside!
Yes, sir, Mr. Garter. I am sorry to have disturbed you!

Meanwhile, Andrea's wee one was cuddly.

But dusk was upon us and we headed back to the car. I'm so psyched that Andrea got to see a couple of snakes because we knew that the following day, Saturday, was going to be cold and rainy. Plus, we had family things to do.

The Red-winged Blackbirds tucked themselves into their perches and called it a day.

So we did too.