Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Herp World Tour 2014 \m/ (Sat. September 20th)

We got the chance to hitch up with one of our herp friends named Matt and we were excited to get into the field with him! I hadn't been to Ponkapoag in ages and that's where I wanted to go. Rich in herpetofauna and familiar trails; it was just what I needed. We got there at about 9:30 and hit the trails.

It was still pretty cool... low 60s at best. We didn't see any herps until we hit the dam. Our first was a Pickerel Frog who had framed himself nicely with a plant.

Further up, Andrea and I were on one side scoping out a popular Nerodia spot when Matt walked over from the other side with a handful of Garter Snake!

Nearby, Andrea found a basking Northern Water Snake!

We headed towards the bog and saw a few Redbacks along the way. This guy is sportin' his bling!

The bog was a marvel, as always! We saw a Garter dart into the brush right away... he was out of reach but I managed this noggin shot:

Matt took the lead, determined to not let the old man cramp his style. It paid off right away as he made a lunge catch for another Garter!

And within minutes, another!
I tried to do the calming-down-hand-trick to this guy... it didn't work.

This Green Frog looked on in amusement.

Andrea was in the lead for a while and spotted this big gal off the boardwalk...
Deciding she was big enough to warrant a measuring, Matt flung himself in her direction and came up with a handful again! She was 29"... not too shabby!

I've got to be honest, it was great letting someone else dive for the snakes! I felt like our friend Bob, who sits in his car and makes his kids do the actual herping for him! (Just kidding Bob... not that you'll ever read this!)

Matt next flipped a massive parking lot log that I'd considered trying before but my lower back always changed my mind. It paid off again... a good sized Spotted Salamander was under it!
Best of all, a future herper, a girl of about 5, was right there and she loved seeing it and learning about it. She held it very gently.
She was also very excited to get to the bog and see Garters after seeing our pictures!

We flipped a few more Redbacks of varying colors...

We went to check out a dry vernal to see if there was any action nearby... but there wasn't. On the way back, Andrea stepped on a small Garter that I had just walked right past. Matt, the only one with working eyes it seems, wrangled the trod-upon snake, who was just fine.

We got to a stream that was also dry and as always, I took time out to look for some Two-lined Salamanders. This guy was a joker. First, he hid in a leaf...
Then, he ran off when I tried to photograph him!
But patience is a virtue (or so some snotty lady said to Andrea in line at a CVS once) and I finally got my shot.

S is for... Redback.

We set about flipping on the rocky hill. You'll never guess who found the Twins of Ringneck... Matt!
These are both Northerns but the one has an interesting Southern-style belly.

By the dock, as I flipped rocks... Matt and Andrea spied a large basking Water Snake. I went around to the front of it (the pond's water level was also super-low) but Matt had already hauled it up to the "beach" for photos... and taken a couple of good bites while doing so.
It should be noted that this Nerodia only likes biting guys named Matt... Andrea and I had no problems handling her!
She measured 40"! Look what you've done, Ms. Sipedon!
As I often say, Massachusetts Water Snakes are as pretty as they get!

We finished up just as we'd started... with a fine Pickerel Frog.

But wait... there's more! Our good friend Teá had asked if we'd like to meet her at a favorite spot in Suffolk County to look for Ambystoma for a project she and a friend are working on. We said yes. Our meet-up was pushed from 5 PM to 5:30 PM and it was only about 2:30 by the time we exited Ponk, so we got some sandwiches and headed over to Cutler to kill a little time. As always, Milks were on our minds.

We encountered only one snake that we were able to photograph, a small Garter who enjoyed posing for us.

We scoured the 'alley and climbed the rocks but we saw nothing but shed skins. A man who was sitting on the bridge while birding said he'd seen two "big black snakes" earlier. Oh well, the early birder gets the racers, I always say. I did manage to drop a rock on my toe. It's still purple 3 days later. Cool! But it had gotten late and time was wasting; we had to get over to meet Teá. On the way to the car, Matt made a valiant jump for a Ribbon off the boardwalk but the snake was too quick. Ribbons often are. Mercifully, he didn't get pierced by the pungi sticks formed by the trimmed reeds!

We met up with Teá who was with her friends Brandon and Jessica. Brandon, who was the Anuran Whisperer, had a lovely American Toad in his hands.

He was also able to tame a Wood Frog!

The next amazing anuran was an American Toad... look! No speckles on the belly! Proving once again that you can't judge a toad by it's belly!


Teá found a nice Redback, but all Ambystoma were absent.

Two more Peepers peeped in our presence.

Darkness had fallen and yet we kept on herping. Andrea spotted a small Garter that everyone else had almost stepped on!
Go to bed, kid... it's dark out!

Our last herp before exhaustion killed us was a bouncy toad, spotted by Matt.

So, that was our Saturday Herp World Tour! We got to herp with good friends and make a couple of new ones! It was practically dusk to dawn and we all had aches and pains and scratches to contend with but hey... what a great day!!


  1. That large water snake was Matt's find. I didn't see her until he had her in hand.