Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our first Double Digit Species count in the Northeast! 5-25-2014

We had been excited to get back to one of our favorite places in Bristol County. You see, this place has been good for Milk Snakes in the past and we haven't seen one yet this year. Not a one! That won't do. So we headed over fairly early this Sunday and set about righting this wrong.

We know the place had a clean-up a couple of weeks ago. We were in fear that our snake boards have been removed. We are in constant battle with bike-ramp-building cretins here so we never know what to expect. But first off, we took a peek at the bog next to the parking lot, and were greeted by this lovely, classic Fowler's Toad!

An Eastern Kingbird (already counted) was munching on a moth, too.

Upon our first glimpse of the water, we saw some Painted Turtles basking... a first for this section!

A Pickerel Frog was nearby!

Sadly, the clean-up hit our best snake area hard. In fact, all of the debris was piled high right next to the path, waiting to be hauled away. It's a real shame that the dunces who are doing the clean-up are so oblivious to the fact that some of the picnic-tables and boards serve a purpose. They are homes for animals. But Mr and Mrs. Privileged Redneck can't drag Junior there to see the beauty of nature with all of that animal habitat in the way. Let the little fucker play video games like he wants and leave the park to people who appreciate nature!

Anyhoo, I replaced some boards but it's really a losing battle. I mean, if they open this place back up for camping, I'm crossing it off of our list anyway. Humans... humans ruin everything. This fine Fowler's was the only animal we encountered at this formerly glorious spot.
He's looks like he's not too keen on letting the debris go, either.

As we moved on, we realized that toads were out in full force!

A huge Pickerel!

More Fowlers!
Yes, Andrea stacked them but we did not tell the big one to do his Olga Karlatos impression!

This next toad was the only identified American Toad of the day!

This place is 10 to 1 Fowler's. We stopped counting them eventually but here's a few more shots.
This trio left a puddle of pee in Andrea's hands.

There are nine here, probably all Fowler's, but I didn't check them.

Where are all of these toads coming from?? Here:
The water was thick with tadpoles!

We were hoping to find some snakes and stuff that would munch on tadpoles. Meanwhile, I dug out my new binoculars to scan the far end of the pond for turtles. Andrea walked up to me and asked "how much do you love me?"

Trick question. Of course the answer is more than mere words can say. But I saw she was holding something in her hand. I asked if she'd found a hatchling, presumably a Painted. Nope...
We had often hoped we'd find a hatchling Musk Turtle but they're so small, we figured we never would! That's a DIME!!
How Andrea ever managed to see this little blighter I'll never know, but it's possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen!

OK, back to business! While Andrea was photographing her diminutive find, I saw a Green Frog!

We got to the wading part of the hike and took off our shoes and went into the flooded trail. Tadpoles were everywhere! At the end, I got to shoot the Painted Turtles that I'd seen!

As I turned to head back, I saw what I had hoped to see nearby... enjoying the abundance of tadpoles... a Water Snake!
Don't look now, but we're up to 7 species!

The binocs helped find these two Painteds.

Another fine Green Frog.

We got to a pond where we had never seen turtles, but we've seen snakes and frogs at before. I whipped out the binoculars and scanned the heretofore unseeable far edge of the pond. Bingo! And it's a big one!
With my 42Zoom fully extended and resting on Andrea's head for steadiness, we got this shot of a large Red Bellied Cooter, endangered in this state! Thank you, binoculars!

It should be noted that Ladyslippers were all over the place this day.

Binocs in hand, we spied more turtles!
Yep, that's another Redbelly, surrounded by Painteds! There was another big Redbelly up there, but a commotion on shore made a few chelonians dive in. The commotion was a couple, the woman of which was a turtle person, for Mass Wildlife. She thought that one looked different! She wasn't aware of the Redbelly population here. (We reported it last year and they already knew) We showed her this photo and told her all we knew. She had found a Spotted earlier...a species we still need here! Again, we've been meeting cool people this year!

So, we went down for better shots of all of the turtles. Here's a 5-pack of Painteds.

Lousy shot, but this is the only one I got of Species #9 for the day, a Bullfrog.

Here's another shot of our cooter friend, looking smug!

I'm not sure what the two guys on the left are... I'll just call them "turtles".


I love this shot... the guy second from left is fully supported by the stump and the shell of the guy next to him. There's nothing under him! If his buddy moves, he's going into the drink!

Further on, a Pickerel Frog did me a big favor by jumping into a pile of duckweed!

Nearby, I flipped a Redback, pushing us into double digits with our tenth herp species of the day!

We got to a spot where we like to look for Water Snakes, Bullfrogs and Musk Turtles, but it was filled with two large, horrible families, being loud and throwing rocks into the water (one of my big hates). I hated to see this here. Especially when about 20 feet from them, we saw this:

Since the humans were armed and ready with rocks, we decided to stealthily move the snoozing Water Snake further away. Andrea got thanked for her efforts with the foulest musking of all time!
He was a cute little fella, though, and he calmed down admirably!
We put him about 20 yards further down. At any rate, the Loud Family had packed up and left, deciding they'd destroyed enough habitat and serenity.

Picking up where he'd probably left off before the humans arrived, another Water Snake started skimming the edges of the pond, finally safe from stones and humans.
This was the biggest Nerodia of the three we saw this day, but was still only about 2 feet long.

So, we headed back, tired but more or less satisfied. We'd seen no Milks, but what can you do? We did peek back in to the formerly-good place on the way out. I climbed some logs and rocks around the back way and saw what might have been a Ribbon Snake's tail slip into a mound. So, hopefully, they'll adapt to the changes.

Andrea ended the trip with this plump Fowler's who was comfortable in her hand.

So, I call that a bittersweet day. 10 species is AWESOME! But the clean-up ruined a spot we've been cultivating for years, making it better for rock-throwing, noisy, inbred humans to abuse nature... that's just not an improvement in my book.

Oh well, if I had my say only Andrea, me and our friends would be allowed in there. And oh, can you imagine the board lines and sheets of tin we'd lay down!


  1. those baby musks are awesome! I've only seen one but it was one of my favorite finds ever

    1. Yeah , this little dickens will be remembered forever! Just adorable!

  2. Cute stuff, but why do you have to put your sweaty/sebaceous human hands on everything?