Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dookies fix everything. 5-18-2014

I won't go into it again. It has been said many many times before. I dislike species-specific trips, searching specific habitat for specific animals. Yet, I always get this stupid confidence that "this time will be different"!

Despite mostly horrid luck last year at this place, I spent much of the winter yearning for a particular hike in Western Mass. I made the decision to go there, nice and early in the year, to look for Hognoses and Box Turtles. Just like last year. Oh, how stupid I can be.

After a two hour drive, we got there at about 10:30 AM and started in. We gave the place a thorough looking through... in the places that we know animals have been found. For hours, we searched open areas, surrounding woods and every rock and hill we could inspect. We found nothing. No Redbacks. No Garters. Nuthin'. This is the kind of herping that tires me out. Finally, a brilliant red bird flew over me and, even with this crappy picture, I'm calling Big Year #64, a Scarlet Tanager.
#64 Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)

We started up a hill where Boxies are know to hibernate. Surely some would be around still. Nope. As good a time as any to call #65, the Black-and-white Warbler.
#65 Black and white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)

I finally flipped a Redback but it scooted away before I got a picture. Shoot me. Eventually, I found a couple more.

The biggest slap in the face came when I heard a jerk (not me, a jerking whoosh sound) and saw a good sized Black racer about 5 feet in front of Andrea. I told her as it rattled its tail furiously. We reached for our cameras and it zipped off like lightning. I gave a pathetic chase, but my old bones were no match and I lost track of it with no picture. ARRRGGGH!

We finished up and headed back, licking our wounds with this toad, who appears to be a Fowler's but had a speckled belly. Hybrid? I dunno.

A couple of more Redbacks...
and we were done.

That was over four hours of intensive searching and work! Blah.

On the way out, to head to a nearby mountain (yeah, we hadn't worked hard enough, I guess...) we pulled over at the Montague Bookmill, a picturesque bookstore on a waterfall. Gorgeous place and when it's not so crazy fast, I'll bet it's very good Wood Turtle habitat!
I actually did flip a Two-Line right at water's edge, but he launcheded himself into the drink, probably ending up in the next county!

We passed another pull-off with a running stream...
I'd like to check this place out closer!

So, we went to Mount Toby. We wanted to look for Spring Salamanders and Duskies. And to forget the morning's failures.

Why, oh why wasn't there a snake in these flowers? What a lovely picture that would have been!

We got to a beautiful, trickling stream that cascades down a hill... a favorite spot here. Before too long, I flipped a rock that had a Two-Line and the years first Dookie! The Two-line squirmed away (GRRR!) but Andrea secured a shot of the Northern Dusky!

Common to most (though we have to travel to find them) and not altogether spectacular looking, we have a strange love for the Dookies! We started turning up quite a few.

Here's a Pickerel Frog we woke up.
Fourth one this year and we still haven't seen one that we know was awake. Does this species hibernate longer than most?!

Revenge was sweet when we finally got a shot of a Two-Lined Salamander!

A Redback, flipped under a stone in the water. Weird!

Another Two-line!

Big Duke!

Some medium fuscus love!

Andrea found the Dookie of the Day with this lighter, beautiful specimen.

Another watery Redback!

Andrea found this guy under some moss atop a rock.

Portrait of a Two-Line as a Young Salamander.

My final flip was for a Dook and a Two-Line.

So, yeah... we drove two hours each way for salamanders. But that's OK. I love salamander "hunting" because you often find what you're looking for! No Springs, but our inordinate love of Dookies made us happy with what we managed. As for that other place? Well, we might go back... but we'll reverse the importance of it. We'll spend time elsewhere and go there as the add-on. Maybe. Or maybe we'll just say fuck-it altogether!