Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back on Home Turf 9-6-2014

After the wondrous experience in the Southeast, I wondered if our native herps would hold up in comparison to the "exotic" ones we encountered less than a week ago. Well, of course they would! They're also great animals, they're just ones that we encounter more often! That said, we wanted to hit Boyden in hopes of hatchling turtles. This is just about when we see them on a normal year. But, this year has been anything but normal...

We got up there at roughly 9:30. We'd hoped to be earlier (same old song, huh?) because it was going to be a scorcher... but we did OK, all things considered. Our first herp was a decent sized Pickerel Frog, found far from any water.

Yes, I always go in here and look under the eave. I have found plenty of herps in there. If it ever falls on my head, at least I die doing something I love!

Something I didn't do in New Mexico or Arizona... flip a herp! So, it did my heart good to flip this gorgeous Garter!

With the Fall season approaching, Redbacks will start being a more common sight!
pleth one

This good sized American Toad looked like a kid on a supermarket mechanical horse, just waiting for someone to drop in a quarter!

The Painted Contingent was up and present!

This Pickerel was sleeping nearby... he was there when we came back by 5 hours later, too!

This poor Painted Turtle was suffering from something I'd never seen before. He has a fresh-water clam clamped onto his toe.
Obviously, it didn't weigh so much that he couldn't haul out of the water (a juvenile wouldn't have been so lucky) but it looks like it's annoying him.

Heading back to the trail, I saw a Wood Frog hop out of my way. In doing so, he disturbed a smaller Wood! Here they both are!
Nice pinks and reds on the big guy!

Another Pickerel...

And a small American Toad who climbed up a tree, through a spider web and beyond...

Another Woodie...

And a couple more Redbacks... one being a Leadback!
pleth 2

We got to a favorite vernal pond and it was dried up... barely even muddy. There was a small pool bubbling with struggling tadpoles. Luckily, a storm was moving in and they'd be getting some more water soon. Being able to walk on this vernal gave us a chance to flip some of the elusive residents, like this wee Green Frog... about 2 inches of hopping fury!

I flipped a small metamorph Spotted Salamander and yelled for Andrea, who had a hell of a time getting through some trees to get to it!

This Spotted Newt is also waiting for the evening rain...

A Spring Peeper is always a welcome sight!

It then dawned on us that we'd just seen 10 species! Not bad for ol' New England! But the heat had set in and, unlike Arizona, it's a super humid heat. I was sweating like I'd been dipped into water; like I had saved it up from the week before! Sweat was dripping from my nose. It was pretty gross!

We got to the waterfall. Some Painteds were in the distance catching rays!

The water after the fall was very low... lower than we'd ever seen it. That gave us a chance to flip for Nerodia and Two-lines. I flipped one rock and saw a golden tail... two-line? But it was long... and looked like a worm... wha??

It was a small fresh water Eel!
Young fgreshwater eel
We had no clue what he was at first! Not in water (just moist muddiness) and just weird. But we put it into the tank and could then see his fins.
Young freshwater eel

Under the same rock was a Two-Lined Salamander larvae, too!
They were short term cage-mates... luckily, the Eel didn't munch on him on my watch!
Young fgreshwater eel

We got to a plastic tarp that has never produced. It was very hot to the touch. I said to Andrea, "I'll eat my hat if anything is under here!" No sooner had I said that then I saw a nicely shed skin under a corner... then a Garter sped past! Damn! It turns out that there is a fold deep inside that holds some water and is fairly cool! It's the hangout spot for snakes in the blue, like this other Garter!
I've not yet figured out how I'm going to prepare my hat but I'm a man of my word... it shall be eaten.

We wanted more turtles (and a place to dunk ourselves in the river... fishing-people had been in the best spots so far!) so we went upstream a bit. There were plenty of Painteds out, even after we heard a bunch of plops!

There was a Musk up, too, that we hoped would stay out while we slowly got to the other side of him...

While we were fiddling with the Musk, a massive Common Snapper emerged just under the basking branches!
His head alone was the size of the Musk! What a brute... he was hunting under there and made a giant splash as he snapped for something under the water!

Back to my little Stinkpot... I finally found his noggin!
I love these guys!

More Painteds...

What, are we at like 14 with this Bullfrog? Man!

Heading out, we flipped a brand-spankin' new Garter Snake who had a Mojave Rattler-type attitude!
4 inches of terror!

On the way out, I went into that rickety garage again and found species 15... a lovely (and decent sized) Dekay's Snake!
This guy must have been 4 feet!
Or so...

Despite being so wet with sweat that I had to change my shirt (well, we had a good and proper dunk, too! Heaven!), this was an excellent day! No cruising, just 6 or 7 hours of hiking the trails and seeing the native herps. Excited and exhausted, we went for pizza and then... home sweet home.

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