Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Dookie Game 11-15-2014

With winter firmly entrenched in the region (the calendar might disagree, but ice and snow means winter in my book), there's not much one can do with the herping. Some very cold-tolerate stream salamanders are all we can find at this time of year, and we'd have to drive 45 miles or so to get to the nearest Dookie (Northern Dusky Salamander). With that in mind, we decided to  play a game that we invented last year... the Dookie Game. The rules are simple. The first person to find a Dook gets lunch bought for them. The two times we have played, Andrea once once and the other time, we found no Dookies. The game was afoot!

We went to a place in Worcester County that we have found Two-Lines and Dooks and we swear it's gotta be good for Spring Sals, though we have not found them yet. With temps below freezing during the night, the cascading waters were icy and very chilly in the 38° sunlight.

I set to work looking on the sunny side.
That water just froze my fingers so fast they were numb. Kinda nice, really!

I finally saw a Two-Lined Salamander and had to wrestle with him to get a photo! I finally did... a real beautiful specimen!

The dip net came in handy for this wee Two-Lined larvae...

Why can't we find ice-encrusted sticks in the summer, when we need them?

The next find should have netted me a lunch but it was such an aberration, I was uncomfortable calling it in the field. This guy was in a seepy dribble right next to the stream, not in water per say.
It is in fact a Dookie larvae but his light coloring and translucence is very odd. 3/4" of cuteness at any rate!

I made good next time out, though... with a triumphant grin I said to Andrea, "Lunch is going to be so sweet!" I found a small adult Dookie!
Now, to most herpers, Northern Duskies are another throw-away herp... common and not really pretty. But we love them! The fact that we have to drive 45 minutes before we are in their territory... and we do! should prove our Desmog love!

Mission accomplished, we could have left. But we wanted to explore the place a bit more. There is plenty more to look at here, so we went UP!

The top was much swampier than we have ever encountered it before. So much so in parts that we wondered if we were seeing vernals. Should we also be looking for Ambystoma?

This spot was lovely... a bright yellow carpet of fallen maple leaves.
While snapping that picture, we heard some tapping from above. We searched the trees and found...

#107, a Hairy Woodpecker!
#107 Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
All of our previous Hairys turned out to be Downys, so I threw it to the experts and they all agree: Hairy!! YAY!
Nom nom nom.

We continued on, exploring trails new to us. Tenacity paid off when we flipped a Redback!
Most of one anyway! With a smattering of snow and the ground starting to freeze, we're happy as pie with our 5/8 Redback!

We found another great trickling stream area and I had some Two-lines hand me my ass but Andrea found one under a massive rock that posed for a minute...

Seepy, with a light trickle... I still maintain that this place will get us some Spring Salamanders some day!
Just not this day.

But we had a great time and consider it a success! For winning the Dookie Game, I chose a wonderful gourmet pizza place that we found. Super-yummy!


  1. Some lovely photos here - the ones of the stream are really nice!

    1. Thank you! Andrea is the one with the eye for habitat shots!