Sunday, November 30, 2014

Like a Gall Bladder, November is gone. 11-30-2014

What a weird November this has been. Sure, herping ended for us early in the month but we are hardcore never-say-diers so it's always only a matter of time before we'll go out and poke around. We got sidelined this year because Andrea had surgery on Nov. 17th... she is now without a nasty gall bladder. So, she was bed-ridden for some time.

Not to say that she hasn't tested her own limits. On Saturday the 22nd, a mere 5 days after being sliced open, she wanted to try a short walk to look for birds. We went to the Arboretum because it is close by and well-birded. It was cold, however... mid-30s. Though she wasn't in pain, her endurance wasn't all it could be and we had to turn back fairly quickly. As for birds, I continued to master my "missed it by that much" technique.
That branch is in such good focus!

The next day, it was into the mid-50s. We went over to Brook Farm to poke around. We honestly thought that some of the sunny den sites might have a Garter out sunning... it was very nice under the rays. We encountered a few Redbacks... our first herps since the surgery.

This one wanted to go and say hi to Andrea who couldn't bend down. He got all familiar with her mittens!

We didn't get too far that day. After about a half hour, Andrea tired again. The stamina thing was going to take some time. I had to get some groceries, but Andrea could bird from the car while she waited. There were some House Sparrows in the bushes in front of the car, looking lovely in the late sunlight.

A couple of days later, we had another warm spell. Mid-50s again! I rushed home from work so we could see if anything was awake in our friends' yard. There was... another curious Redback!

Well, everything went to hell after that. Snow, ice, sub-freezing temps... what a horrible week! The good part of that is, Andrea stayed put and recovered more. On Saturday, the 29th, we drove to a couple of Antique Malls to practice some warm, inside walking. Then we figured we were ready for the Big Time on Sunday.

On Sunday, the 30th, we were trying to decide what to do... go birding or just stay close to home. We decided to stay nearby and check in on a vernal pool that we believe to be home to endangered salamanders. We have a lot of reason to think that we have pinpointed the correct area but last time here, it was still pretty dry.

So, we took the walk slowly but surely. stopping at stream areas to look for Two-Lined larvae. We found a couple with little effort.
That second specimen is probably in his last winter as an all-aquatic. He was getting pretty big and moved as fast as an adult and it looks like his lines are forming.

Thought he temps were again in the 50s, the main pond here still had ice. As much as I hate the cold, the design of the ice at the shore, where waves were pushing it in, was kind of cool.

We got to our vernal and we were extremely happy to see it filled!

We did some dipping and plenty of searching but saw none of the larvae we were looking for. A nearby log gave us a pair of Redbacks, though.

By now, Andrea was cooked but we were still pretty far from the car. We headed back and I vowed to find her an adult Two-Line while she rested for a bit.
I saw two and they both handed me my ass. I am a failure, albeit with just a lower-case "f".

So, a 2 1/2 hour hike after less than two weeks of getting sliced open and parts of her taken out ain't too shabby! I'm proud of her. We made it through November. Only a few more months to go before we can herp properly again. Oh man... I need to get planning that Everglades trip!

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