Monday, August 18, 2014

The Pros of Post-Con Herping

Years ago, I would have been thrilled to be stuck for three days at a Comic Convention! But these days, I'd rather be herping with my wife than anything! So by the time I had worked my three days at the Boston Comic Con (I run the Film Festival every year), I was more than ready to herp. Unfortunately, it was Sunday evening (August 10th) and the ol' day job was beckoning early the next morning.

But we had time to go check out our friends' backyard, since we were up there doing something for them anyway! We know they have a healthy Dekay's Snake colony there so we'd hoped to just flip and snap some pics. Of course, the snakes themselves made that difficult. (It was dusk and they were waking up for an evening of hunting.)

Our first guy looked like this:
(I wonder if that's his skin right there...)

The next guy we almost got a coiled shot of, but had to pose with him after all.

The last guy was incredibly cute!
So is the person holding him!

Those three snakes did much to calm my frazzled nerves and bring me back to post-Comic Con reality!

By Tuesday evening, August 12th to be exact, I was itching to get back out, though I didn't feel well. Some Con Crud was Coursing through my Capillaries. Andrea, however, convinced me of the medicinal properties of Garter musk and I agreed to go out! We hit Cutler at about 6:10 PM. It gets dark earlier now so we had no time to dawdle!

We saw nothing for a while and I had to "look for Wood Frogs". I went out a small path away from the main trail. When I finished "looking", I noticed a Garter Snake resting about 4 feet from the splash zone!

Along Racer Alley, I was up top poking around. I was descending the stairs when I heard Andrea shout "Garter"! I saw from a distance that she was only using her thumb and index finger to hold up the snake. A massive specimen this was not.
With all of the massive, gravid females we have seen this summer, we expect to see a lot of these wee guys soon! But will any others be this cute?
It looked like he had a meal in that small belly, so we gently released him after just a couple of photos.

We got a surprise addition to our Big Year, too! #79, a pair of Cedar Waxwings!
#79 Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Further up Racer Alley, I went up the side and was looking under some flat rocks for a bit. Upon my descent, I saw Andrea holding a beautiful, dark Garter aloft. She was on fire!!
Evidently, I'd walked right over him as I went up the hill. We put him right back to where he was...

Andrea next made the most Squee-worthy flip of the year.... a brand new Dekay's Snake!
Words failed me at the time and I'm afraid they still do. I mean, a Redback can eat this guy!! Just... ridiculous. Cute to a fault!

The darkness was falling quickly so we headed back out. My headlamp was out of juice and Andrea had forgotten hers so looking for snakes wasn't easy! But it was possible... and we saw this Garter foraging in the dusk.

Pretty much by moonlight, we saw two Garters doing something near the path. Sexy times? Not sure, but they split up as we walked by.
The gal (the second one) was pretty good sized but we decided to not measure her after capturing her. Here is their size comparison.

But yeah, this felt good. Seven snakes in about an hour and a half. This would definitely hold me over until we could do some proper herping on the weekend... after 12 solid days of full-time work for me!