Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Keystone State Part 1- May 22nd, 2015

Since we have been going to the Everglades for the past two years to celebrate Andrea's birthday, we decided to head not-quite-so-far south for mine. We have many good friends in Pennsylvania and wanted to see some of their herps... oh, and them! So we made plans and headed down on Friday, May 22nd, hitting the road a bit after 8 AM.

Traffic wasn't too shabby going down and we arrived in PA in the early afternoon. We set about searching for a few spots our friend Bob had suggested and pulling over anywhere that looked good along the way. The skies were cloudy and it wasn't super warm but it was pretty good herping weather. Naturally, it was starting to sprinkle when we pulled in to our first stop, but we still managed to flip a lovely Ringneck.
Many of the Ringnecks down here have nice patterns on their bellies, unlike their northern brethren.
Scar aside, this one was a beauty.

Our most familiar salamander in MA was our next PA find... a shiny Redback.

The rain started coming down harder but we peeked across the street before giving up. A massive rock was hiding this wee Garter!

The sky opened up and we ran to the car. We needed some drinks anyway. We got some beverages and I noticed some rocks on the other side of a small field next to the store. Andrea wasn't interested in going over in the rain but I am not nearly as smart. So I did. And I found a raggedy, in-the-blue Red-bellied Snake. I brought it to the car for Andrea to see.
These were the most common snakes when I was a kid (in New York state) but they are almost impossible to see in MA. This guy was our first in two years. He pooped on me.

I went to put him back but I was interrupted by some White-tail Deer who had just strutted out from the woods. The two older ones kept their eyes on me while the younger, orange ones grazed.

The rain was off and on as we made our way to some other flipping spots along the way to our hotel. At one place, I flipped a Garter who scooted deep into the rocks on me. Another spot got us a Ringneck and a super chubby Redback.
^She's gonna pop!

We got to our hotel and checked in. We wanted some grub before herping again, but from the hotel parking lot, we saw an abandoned building tucked away in back. And there was some debris around it. I knew there would be a Ringneck there. And there was, between some old bathroom tiles that were rotting away, forgotten.
He remains one of my favorite snakes of the entire weekend.

So, we got some food (super oily pasta for me, the veggie option) and decided to poke around a dam near our hotel. We went down to a boat launch that had a rock strewn hill and... a stream cutting through the rock!

Andrea flipped a Ringneck on the way down. It musked her and got away. At least it was proof she got her hands on it! I dug into the streamside rocks hoping for salamanders.

I got one: a lovely Two-lined with markings unlike any of the ones I see up North. Nice spotty head there, bro.

We went upstream a bit where a picturesque waterfall awaited us.

Not only that... but DOOKIES!!! We started finding plenty of Northern Duskys and that always makes me happy.
^ Not the same Dook as the first picture but a very similar lack-of-tail.

I do love me some stream herping. While there, Andrea snapped a shot of this butterfly.
Metarranthis obfirmaria
I had trouble IDing it and even Teá had a time with it (!) when I showed her, but she now says it is a Metarranthis obfirmaria. Pretty little bugger.

We moved on to check out some other areas. Along the way, we stopped for some time at an area that we thought looked perfect for vipers. We carefully poked around for about a half an hour but came up empty. We later learned from some fishermen in the area that yes indeed- there have been some Timbers nearby this spot. At least we were barking up the right tree.

We crossed the dam and poked around a wooded area near the water. We saw a couple of Redbacks and the most vivid, bright Eft I have ever seen!
He looked disgusted and bored with us before too long.

That is all we had the gas for. We called it at 7 species. It had been a long day of driving and the next day, Saturday, was going to be an event. A big meet up and herp adventure was planned so we hit the hay early. My mind was swimming with small black coils and shiny Dookie bodies. Sleep came slowly but soon, I passed out.


  1. Todo es muyhermoso ,Me alegra verlos bien,Cariños Martha

    1. Gracias Martha! Estamos felices de que es buen tiempo! Love Mike

  2. !!!!Yfeliz cumpleaños Andrea!!!!Un beso Martha