Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sunday Surprises. 5-17-2015

We hadn't been to one of our favorite places yet in 2015, one which shall have to remain nameless now. We invited Teá and Mike to come along as they had never been there. As always, it's great to have them along. Teá explained to us that the rain-drop-type sound we were hearing was caterpillar poop. And the poppy seeds all over the car? The same. I also must have swallowed a dozen hanging 'pillars over the weekend.

Anyhoo- we got there shortly after 10 AM and started out, hoping for double-digit species. Our first sighting was a lovely Bullfrog at the edge of the pond.

At the exact same time, Teá had spotted this gorgeous Green Frog.

Greens were calling. I found the culprit of one of the calls... I was watching him do his detuned banjo string call but I was unable to get a shot of his throat sac fully extended. Oh well... this is good enough.

At another inlet to the pond, we were looking for frogs when Andrea said, "LOOK!"
Yikes!! Wee Snapper alert!
This little guy was full of personality and when put down, he booked it into the water like... slow lightning!

Hot damn- with the flip of this fine Redback, we were already at four species!

We found a drying vernal. There was plenty of life in the middle... tadpoles and probably salamander larvae. Some dried eggmass jelly was around the pool. This small Bullfrog was also a resident there.

We got to a normally Neroderiffic part but it was snakeless. It should be noted that this place was filthy with humanity this day. Teá noticed, however, that a pair of Water Snakes were gittin' it on off trail on the side of a hill!
The female was huge. This is her O-face.

This park is a favorite of mine because of the turtles. There weren't as many Painteds as I usually like to see but these 5 did my heart good.

We moved on. A sound caught our attention. A rustle was made by this stunning Garter. She of the olive head and vivid checkers had a meal in her tummy.
She also sat there like a pro while we all photographed her beauty.

Less cooperative was our next snake... a very feisty Ringneck! He was trying to bite!
Big and bright.

Don't look now. We were at 8 species.

We were headed to a good spot when Mike said, "Here's one!" A small water Snake peeled out and into a clump of poison ivy and stinging nettle. I thought nothing of it as Teá and I dove in to get him for pictures. When I came out, my leg and hand was on fire!! We put some Purell on it and it got better. But whoa- what a beautiful Nerodia!
He was very photogenic and gave Andrea some incredible lens time.
Here are a couple of her shots:

Next up, Andrea found this beautiful classic Garter.

Here's another nice Redback.

We got to an open part and we all kind of split up, searching the edges. I was poking around when I saw Teá and Andrea together, and Teá  was wildly gesturing and trying to yell-whisper something to me. "Huh? Garter?" I asked. "Blandings!" she whisper-called back. I said, "you're shittin' me!"

They were not shitting me. Andrea had stumbled onto a rare bird indeed. He was startled and would not leave his shell. Our first Blanding's Turtle in two years.

We figured he had been in a vernal, eating some amphibian eggs and was headed back to a main body of water. I had heard grumblings that this species might be here but I sincerely doubted it. I was wrong. While I waited for him to emerge from his shell, this large American Toad came by, making our species count an even 10.

I patiently waited but he never came out of his shell any further than this.
No worries... this was a great surprise that I'll never forget.

We were pretty happy with ourselves. We didn't see too much more as we headed back towards the front. These two small American Toads were fun to watch.

At the very end (back to the beginning), we saw some more huge Bullfrogs.
There were three horrible men nearby who had been ogling the girls and seemed intent on catching these frogs after we got our pictures. They were obviously up to no good. My guess is that they wanted to eat the frogs. Well, those would-be-killers didn't stand a chance. I kept turning back and they had gotten nowhere. Outsmarted by anurans. I wanted to report them but there was not an authority figure present. Oh well.

But hey, creepy-assed dudes aside, we had a great hike and saw some great animals. And a new Blandings spot is something to seriously crow about. Caw! Caw! Caw!

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