Monday, October 27, 2014

Is 2014 over in the Northeast? 10-25-2014

Well, even if the calendar says it's late October, I'm just not ready to give it up yet. Besides, there was a lot of rain all week and we wanted to see what sort of effect it had on the dry landscape of Norfolk County. Specifically, we wanted to see if certain vernals filled in. Plus, it was going to be in the mid-60s so there was the possibility of a late snake.

We met up with Matt S, Teá, and our friends R & R. With so many eyes looking around, we were sure to see whatever was out there. In truth, it was pretty chilly and we saw nothing for quite a while. Still, we had lots of fun and I always learn something with this group. (Our specialties are varied!) Finally, we started to flip a few Redbacks.
And a Leadback!

As hoped, our vernals were wet... maybe more soggy than filled, but it's a start.

We finally got to our Two-Lined spot and Matt found the first one.

I followed with another.

Everyone set out an a hill filled with rocks searching for Spotted Salamanders and Ringneck Snakes. We inevitably came up short. Andrea found a ridiculously small Redback though.
I wish I had a dime.

Frankly, I was disappointed that we only saw these two species on a whole trip around the trail. It was certainly warm enough form a snake (in the sun) and a Spotted Sal should have been easy! Oh well. R & R had to depart but the rest of us decided to double back and hit the sunny dam area again... just in case.

It paid off when we saw a 4-pack of Painted Turtles basking!
Another angle:

This duo wasn't far from them.

But no snakes were out, so we turned back... hungry and wanting to try the sub shop that was recommended to us!  Just back into the woods, not far from the sunny dam... we saw this:
Yay!! October 25th Garter!! When we first saw him, I thought he had something in his mouth like a Wood Frog but evidently, he had a leaf stuck to his chin. He was cool.
Knowing it was likely our last snake of 2014, we all gently handled him and got stinky musk-smelling hands for it.
He slithered off happily, hopefully to his den!

I knelt beside a seep puddle to rinse my hands and Teá noticed a frog plop into the drink. She expertly hauled it ashore for a photo... a wee Pickerel Frog!
He looked a bit bewildered but he hopped back in and forgot all about us.

So, it wasn't completely over yet! We went and got some chow (thanks for the tip, R! Delicious!!) and headed over to a place in Suffolk County to poke around during the last hours of sunlight. We had decided to head out to the sunny rocks first, in case any snakes were brave enough to be up (or under sun-warmed rocks). Matt was unable to hold off and flipped a Blue-Spotted Salamander, a definite target!

He stayed with his find to get a better photograph while we went out to flip. We came up empty... the shadows had become long and it was getting cooler. I started looking for birds. Matt, who had caught up with us by now, pointed out some Yellow Rumped Warblers. I stood there trying for 15 minutes to get a decent shot. I finally got one but have remembered since that I already have this in my Big Year... #59! Hey, I worked so hard that I'm putting this picture up!
Yellow Rumped Warbler

After finally getting that shot, I shot this yellow bird a few trees over:
#95 Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum)
Turns out it's #95, a Palm Warbler!!!  And it's eating a spider!

Dusk was setting in fast, so we headed out... hoping to flip some salamanders on the way. Matt and I simultaneously flipped Blue-Spotteds! Here's his:

And here's mine.

OK, so we broke our streak of double-digit species with only six, but we had a good time with friends and got to see some beautiful animals! Is that Garter our last of the year? I wouldn't be surprised. I'll admit, I looked yesterday and today and saw nothing.

But 2014 has been an extraordinary year for herps. We have made many new friends and seen many new animals. It's not over by any means. Insanity... I mean, a love of herping will get us out all winter. But the species counts will get lower and lower. Hmmm... can another Everglades trip be far behind?!


  1. Beautiful! Love the Garter against ZantiMissKnit's red nails!

    1. Thank you!! That manicure of hers has held up remarkably well!!