Thursday, April 23, 2015

Earth Day, Hump Day, Herp Day. 4-22-2015

Last weekend was truly a disaster. We had to dump our herping plans due to family crises, hospitals, worry and driving. Lots and lots of driving. And worry. As much as we like to pretend otherwise, herping is not our top priority. But it makes us happy and keeps us sane.

The 10th day of non-herping was sunny and mild. A friend of mine had mentioned a place not far from our workplace that looked right up my alley. She had heard peepers and seen a smooshed Garter Snake. She gave me explicit directions and I decided to check it out after work. It turned out to be only 10 minutes away, in Middlesex County.

I hit the trail at about 3:30 under partly cloudy skies. The wind was picking up but it was still fairly warm. The place had survived the winter but was still barren and flattened from the weight of the snow. It will be lush before too long. This was a good way to see it and get the lay of the land. I went a bit off trail, attracted by a piece of debris. Under said piece of debris, a small, beautiful Garter Snake!
Non-smooshed and orangey.

Still off the marked trail, I flipped a Redback.

OK, this was already worth my while. I got back onto the main path and scared some deer that went flouncing away. I flipped as I traveled along the marked trail. This place was full of big Redbacks!

I took an unmarked trail that went around a vernal pool and I could hear toads and peepers calling. My time was up and as I pondered where would be a good spot to turn and get back on to the marked trail, I discovered that I was where I saw the Garter and first Redback! Ooh!! Loopy! That saved me some time.

As I took the trail out, I couldn't help but feel like I was being watched. It was uncanny.

I looked around the wetlands near the parking area and saw a toad go diving into the water and swim to safety beneath an underwater rock. No photo, so maybe it never really happened.

My time was short because I wanted to pick up Andrea at the train station so we could head over to Alandale to herp. She too needed some time in nature to wipe away the stress of the weekend. We got to the Woods at about 6 PM and hit the trails. It was down to about 61° and clouds had moved in. Still, it wasn't long before she flipped a beefy Leadback who would not sit still for the camera.

The streams were running strong so finding this Two-Lined Salamander was easier said than done.

We hiked for 2.39 miles through Allandale, flipping Redbacks and Two-lines but saw no signs of Spotted Salamanders (it's been about two years since we have here) or Garters (none last year here). The specimens we did see were gorgeous, though.
allendale redbacks
^This big Leadback thinks he's a Jeff!

allendale two-lines

We ended on a Redback note, near where we thought the Spotted vernal is. (We saw no egg masses but it was getting dark and rainy and we weren't thinking of tromping out into the middle of the pond.) The Redbacks did their finest ostrich impressions.

So, Wednesday Night Herping felt damn good and produced some fine animals. It dawned on us later that is had been Earth Day. We celebrated like we do as often as possible... enjoying the Earth and its natural beauty. Every day is Earth Day, is it not?

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