Monday, June 30, 2014

Two Counties, 12 Species 6-28-2014

With a non-herp day on Sunday, we wanted to squish in as much herping as possible on Saturday. And eat Mandarin Buffet. So that's exactly what we did!

Again, we got a later start than we wanted to, but still arrived at Boyden a bit before 11 AM. And we headed right out. Our first herp was this medium/ large sized Garter Snake, prowling the perimeter of a garden.
A real beauty with a typically faint Boyden Dorsal Stripe!

Next up, Andrea flipped a nice Plethodon Cinereus... a Redback.

The bunk beds had another lovely Garter prowling for snacks.

I was all about seeing some turtles and this river is usually pretty good for them. We spied a plethora of Painteds.

In the picture below, all but the guy on the far right got disturbed when a small dog came down to the river and jumped in.

Here's the action shot:

This guy gave no shits whatsoever.

Further upstream, Andrea noticed a small Snapper was basking along with a yawning Painted!

On the branches just above them, a pair of our Big Year #71 were preening... Barn Swallows!
#71 Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

It was pretty hot by now and the place was super dry. When we flipped a trio of Leadbacks and Redbacks, we were oh so satisfied!

Andrea amazed one and all (me, and since we were alone... that's one and all!) by spotting this Tiny Toad.
Probably an American as that's all we see here (though two miles down the road it's 10 to 1 Fowler's).

Back to the river, I turned a corner and passed a bush and came face to face with these Mute Swans.
Why was I getting that scornful look? Oh... I see...
Hey, what's that out on those rocks out there?

^ Yoga!

I'd made some kind of bullshit statement that we couldn't have Mandarin Buffet if we didn't find 10 herp species. Of course we would, but I felt the need to go cool off in a creek and look for a Two-Lined Salamander. Hey... I found one!

We got to a favorite flipping spot. It has trash carpet. Anyone who knows me knows I love trash carpet. So, I was flipping through some and flipped past a small black coil. Flipping back, I noticed it was a dark Garter Snake!
Again, not much dorsal stripe but he's in the blue... we'll see if he gets some after a good shed.

Nearby, I finally flipped a Massachusetts Milk Snake!
The ground was too hot to put him on for fake nature shots but Andrea's hat worked just fine!

We found a broken piece of skin. Definitely Racer. I wonder where the large owner of this shed was!

Heading back, we hit some more Painted spots...

Thankfully, my zoom lens caught this Bullfrog noggin... our first frog of the day!
The guy was a brute. I saw him from about 30 yards out!

My favorite picture of the day was my last at Boyden. This Painted kept coming to the surface, seeing us and swimming back down. Finally, after waiting and staying still, he came up for this shot.
Such a cute smile.

On the way out, we flipped a bit more. I flipped a bee. He stung me on the leg. It sucked. But we went for Mandarin Buffet anyhoo. During the lunch, I was itchy as hell and my palms swelled up. A few other spots too. But it wasn't so bad that we weren't going to continue on to Rocky Gutter after we finished.

And that's exactly what we did.

We got there at about 3:30 and headed right over to the vernals. Or where they should have been. They were dry as a bone. Crackling mud was as wet as it got. So, we headed down the power cut to the wet area, hoping to see some of the tadpoles and frogs that surely were living down there. That was very low too, and muddy... but there was water. And a Pickerel Frog!

A small frog face kept popping up and disappearing, driving me nuts. I finally got a shot of the wise-ass... a teeny Green Frog.

At one point, Andrea said "I'm in"... yes she was. Mud sucked her foot right in and made her choice to wear white pants a bad one.

But we found our third frog species in 15 minutes, so all was well... a hiding Wood Frog.

Andrea flipped a tire and found a very skinny Garter.
It's so dry, I hope this guy can get a meal soon! We let him go back to his tire.

Andrea somehow saw this Tiny Toad.
Plain belly, so it's probably a Fowler's but at this size, I'm not going to stake my (non-existent) reputation on it.

Although we got a Chipping Sparrow earlier in our Big Year, this photo is pretty good, so I'm posting it.
He has a mouthful of pine needles.

At another part of the Gutter, we flipped a trio of Fowler's Toads.
It turned out there was four, but we couldn't get them all photographed. But these two cuddling is pretty adorable.

Our last herp of the day and our 12th positive species was this large American Toad!

So, we left happy. We were toast and still had errands to run but we were everso satisfied with our finds of the day. Sunday was my daughter's baby shower. While we saw no herps, we got to see my kid and my granddaughter... a worthwhile way to spend a Sunday.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Friday we've got herping on our minds. 6-27-2014

Since we will be unable to herp on Sunday, we decided to take a quick look around some places in Suffolk County after work on Friday. Why not, right? So we got to a nearby hot-spot at a bit after 6 PM and hit the trails.

The place is very dry. Man, we need some rain! Salamanders would be tough tonight. Many of the vernals were already dry. It's going to be a hard year for tadpoles. But some big slabs of concrete came through with our first snake of the night, a young Garter who sneered at the camera.

We put him down and tried for a nature shot...
Zip! Too slow...

Another slab gave us a more cooperative specimen.

While the water was very low, it wasn't completely absent. This Bullfrog was enjoying a cool swim.

The adjoining park, which is usually pretty thick with humanity, was pleasantly quiet. The thousands of flippable stones beckoned us, but we decided to only flip the low-hanging fruit. You can't flip everything! The first one got us a lovely, plump American Toad!

This place is all about Garters and we didn't have to wait long before one was flipped.

Another flip near the brook got us this coiled up Water Snake.
Andrea removed it before we replaced the rock and commented on how mellow it was!

Another small Garter.

I flipped a large rock and saw nothing, but Andrea could see coils near where the rock still hit the ground. She removed this battle-scarred Garter! Check out the scar on the back!

She was also missing the tail from about 1/2" from the vent on down! Youch!

The next rock was extraordinary. I lifted it and was greeted by a heap of coils! I reached in and grabbed a handful. I came up with a good sized, high-red Water Snake and a big ol' (probably pregnant) Garter Snake, while another large Garter got away. The Nerodia wasn't like Andrea's at all... mellow is NOT the word!
Bitey, but a stunning animal!!

Andrea gently held on to the chubby Garter while I wrestled the art-critic Water Snake.

So as dusk set in, we headed back towards the car. We'd hoped to see some frogs frolicking in the twilight, but only this mouse greeted us.

And like Baloo in The Jungle Book, I found a nice tree to scratch my back on.

Hey, not bad for two hours on a Friday night! Thai food followed, which is always a great thing!