Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ending September in Style 9-28-2014

Well, maybe not in style but this was a pretty good Sunday. Since it was going to be well over 80° in late September, we were psyched. We also wanted turtles because we hadn't seen any for a while. So we headed to Great Meadows, a place with many chelonian possibilities.

Due to the expected heat, we got there early. This place is super sunny so we knew we would get roasted later in the afternoon. Historically, this is not a very good place for salamanders for us but our first herp was a Redback, found on the way to the bathrooms. (A quick pit-stop is always welcome before a day of herping)

As with every other place we've been to in the second half of this year, the water levels were very low. When we did find some H2O, it rewarded us. Here is my favorite shot of the year... Andrea got a great one of this Bullfrog swimming!
Here he is after he hauled himself up on to a lily pad.

Some people were sitting on a bench where we wanted to herp. It all worked out... they pointed out our first Northern Leopard Frog of the day!

No sooner had they left then a very young Northern water Snake slid out from some rocks!

That was it for a while. We reached a part that is usually under water and poked around. A nearby rock yielded a new Garter Snake!

Then another rock sent us the Twins of Sirtalis!
These two were definitely siblings... same stage of opaque, nearly the same length and similar markings.

Next up, a small and... let's be honest here... drab Green Frog.
But he's cute!

Another Leopard!

Now here is an odd and beautiful Green Frog...
Andrea named it Gold Dust...

Finally, through some bushes, I managed a shot of some Painted Turtles!

Andrea was in the lead now and she stopped to photograph something...
Her camera captured that latex grey house paint stripe along the back of this Garter! We had seen one with a similar colored stripe on our last visit here, though this snake is smaller.

Mammal time... a chipmunk with one cheek full of something.

Andrea stopped to look for Wood Frogs (and no, neither of us saw any this day) and I went ahead. I promised to hold on to anything I saw, even if it bit me. Not surprisingly, I saw a basking Water Snake.
He took off after that shot but was still within reach so I grabbed him to wait for Andrea. Yes, he bit but not badly. He also musked. I'll take the bites any day...
What a beauty this one is!!!!

Here's another beautiful Green!

Happy painted basking...

Along the path, we saw another Garter Snake and he didn't move at all. I was able to get right up in his grille for a good shot... a shot that captures all of the intelligence present in a medium sized Eastern Garter Snake...

Andrea spotted us a Pickerel Frog! Finally!

OK, indulge me here. I love turtles and we got some pretty silly shots of basking Painteds! And here they are...
That's a lotta yoga!

Here's yet another lovely Green Frog, making me feel bad that I called the first one drab!

A Leopard in the path...

This Leopard was great... we saw him lunge at a grasshopper, but missed.
I caught one and held it in front of him. He didn't budge. I set it in front of him, walked away and he snapped it up!! He didn't want hand-feeding but he did want some chow!

We got to a spot we sometimes turn around at but decided that we'd take the forest trail this time. Though people had said they had seen some Snapping Turtles on the main path, we wanted to stay to the shady forest for our return to the car. Our last turtle was this sun-happy Painted!

We flipped another Redback in the woods.

We got up to the bike path and it was crowded with bikes. There were dozens passing us in both directions as we walked along. No wonder we had seen a few mashed snakes up here in the past. Luckily, not today. But oh crap... it looked like a dead black snake on the side... must have been flung...

No! It moved!!! It was a very well behaved young Water Snake!
He made a stink at first, but calmed right down and was the most easy-going Nerodia that we've ever encountered!

Now that was a happy way to end this trip! I doubt we'll be hitting this place again this year and it was good to close out September with such a good snake! The first weekend of fall was in the books. It's almost October and within a few weeks, snakes will be gone until the Spring. But we're grateful for this weekend summer blast... and a few reptiles to keep us happy.

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