Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Great minds herp alike in Boyden 5-17-2014

Many years ago, we became friends with a guy named Chris on Flickr, the photo-sharing website. We liked his reptile photos and noticed that many of them were from the Boyden Refuge in Taunton, MA. We were looking to expand our herping boundaries at the time and we decided to look at Boyden ourselves! Of course, it has become one of our favorite mainstays in the rotation over the past 6 or 7 years. We have kept up contact with Chris, but we had never met him in person. This Saturday, May 17th, he was going to be hosting a snake talk and walk at the refuge. A perfect time to meet him!

We got there at about 10 AM, an hour before he was to start his presentation, so we hit the trails. Pretty quickly, we saw a large American Toad!
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While walking through the Fragrance Garden, we ran into Chris! He was out pre-presentation looking for a Milk Snake to show the group. No luck. We never found one either. But he's a very nice guy and we talked about the place and the herps there for a while. He had to get back to get prepared, so we continued on the trail for a while. The bunk-beds had no Garter Snakes but there was a Robin's nest.
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This distant Painted Turtle is amazingly the only turtle I got a shot of in this turtlecentric place!
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Others were all too skittish or too hidden or just not there!

We also manged Big Year #62, an Eastern Kingbird.
#62 Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Down by the river, I went to try to get a shot of some hidden turtles, but failed. On my way back up the path, there was a Garter Snake with a decent sized meal in her belly!
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So then we headed back to the beginning to see if Chris's show was going on. At the entrance back into the fragrance garden, #63, a Gray Catbird, was waiting for us.
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Oh, and the Toad was still there.

Chris and a group of his hikers met us at the other end of the garden. We had missed his presentation, so we joined the dozen other people to... well... look for snakes! We didn't have a lot of luck, but luckily the well-fed Garter that we had seen was coiled up in a patch of sun digesting, so everyone got to see their first snake of the day.

It took a while, but eventually, I flipped a Redback!
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I was down in the creek looking for Two-Lined Salamanders (I found one, who promptly handed me my ass) while one of the teenagers found a Spring Peeper!
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Right around here, the group had to head back. Andrea and I stayed on the trails, hoping to see parts that we usually would have seen already. We made plans to meet Chris back at the center. Ironically, they found a young Water Snake on the walk back... a species that we have not documented a live specimen of here! Arrrgh!

Soon, we spotted another American Toad!
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Then we found a perfectly gorgeous Wood Frog!!
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What a stunner! This place has some of the prettiest Wood Frogs ever!

Long Tall Redback.
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Sapo americano
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It was one of those great moments... I was walking ahead and I looked back and Andrea was enthusiastically grabbing at the grass. She had found a pretty little Garter Snake!
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There was also plenty of ruffled poison ivy. Luckily, nothing flared up.

On the way back, we saw another Garter... who fled from me towards Andrea... and back... and back. When we got a look at it, we saw that it had been eating a worm.
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It looks like it had started to regurgitate it when we startled it, but it stopped and started woofing it back down. Nom nom nom.

So, we met up with Chris at the center and talked for a while longer. The woman who I thought was his relief at the center turned out to be his Mom picking him up (no way that young woman was old enough to have an adult child!) and I felt bad for wasting her time! But both Chris and his Mom were very cool and it's great to finally meet him. He gave us easy directions to go to another nearby place that we had been thinking of trying out... the Arthur Sharp Estate. He said it was filthy with Ringnecks and I had been hoping for one all day.

Filthy, yes. It seems it's an unofficial dumping area. Of course, that often translates to good snake habitat, but it was kind of depressing. Also, the road was closed so we parked outside of the partitioned area, feeling like maybe it wasn't perfectly legal. Needless to say, I was a bit jumpy the whole time there.

We flipped a lot of garbage with no herps but the ragged road was filled with holes... which were filled with puddles... which, it turns out, were filled with tadpoles!
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They look like Toad tadpoles, but I'm not swearing on it. Little black polliwogs is my expert ID.

Nearby, there were some Green Frogs.
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The same tire divot that held the second Green Frog also had this tadpole in it... decidedly not a Toad.
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Houston, I believe we have a Bullfrog.
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Then, as the puddles got bigger, the tadpole count got outrageous!
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It came as no surprise when Andrea found someone else hanging out in the tadpole puddles...
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A young Water Snake, who continuously out-smarted our attempts to catch it to see how big it was, was probably having a grand old time in there!
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We finished off with a small Bullfrog.
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I wasn't real comfortable there, worried about my parking place and getting lost, but we had a good hour of seeing tons of tadpoles and one very happy snake. All in all, it was a long day with not a ton of species to show for it, but any day in the field is a great one and any day you can meet a like-minded herper, things are great!

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