Monday, June 22, 2015

Doing the Bristol Stomp. 6-20-2015

We were happy to return to one of our favorite stomping grounds in Bristol County on Saturday, mostly because the last time we were here (late April) we saw about a dozen Redbacks and nothing else. Surely something else has come to the surface since then.

After a couple of stacks of 50s Diner pancakes, we reached our destination at roughly 9ish-like. (The car's clock is kaput... I have no idea what time it was.) We got right into herping. Our first find was a small Garter flipped by Andrea.
It has a very faint, disappearing dorsal stripe, a common trait here.

Next up, a Redback. Still hanging in there, though it's getting pretty warm.

A curious sight met us when we saw the water. The usual Painted Turtles had an unexpected guest at the top of the stack- a massive Snapper!

This Painter wanted no part of the togetherness. (The me of turtles)

Two Painted Pals.

A small, adorable American Toad was next.

A Yoga class.

A sleek black Leadback Cadillac.

Another All-American.

I saw a noggin in the water and saw that it was another Snapper.
I think we have already seen more Snappers this year than all of last year (which was criminally snapper-light.)

We got to the waterfall, traditionally our half-way mark. We saw plenty of Painteds out basking.
Let's take a closer look, shall we?

All the while, we were hearing Geese squawking like mad. We were wondering what was bothering them when we looked over the falls and noticed a gosling stuck down there. He kept jumping towards the falls but he could not yet fly so it was pretty hopeless. I took off my shoes and went down to see what I could do. I approached and, naturally, he ran from me.
My only hope was to try to force him up onto the bank and have him run up. Of course, he ran right past me.
I tried again from the other side with the same result, then again.
His running was very comical but I started to get nervous that I was stressing him way out and doing more harm than good. He went off into the rocks and hid in a bush in the water for a moment. All the while, the parents were screaming at me. He came out again and I wouldn't let him back up onto the bottom platform of the falls, forcing him to go onto land. He did and made a turn toward Andrea. Evidently, he shot past her and ran 20 feet to the water in a flash; all of a sudden, the family... now with two goslings again instead of one, quietly swam off. She never saw him go by.

Talk about a wild goose chase.

We carried on. I eventually turned up a small Garter in some tarp. A real beauty, too. I was holding him in one hand, fiddling with my camera with the other, when he slid out and completely disappeared. Oh well, easy come, easy go. Within a few minutes, we flipped this similar sized bruiser who was digesting a meal.
I could see another coil through the rip of a discarded sleeping bag. Here are the two together.

Further along, I turned into a field just as Andrea yelled out "Garter!" My presence had startled a Wild Turkey family (what was my problem with avians today?!). Two youngsters flew off while the mom ran off gobbling. Again, it was pretty funny.

This was Andrea's gorgeous sight.
Full, stretched out and not much of a stripe again. Stunning.

We headed back and decided to look at the water again. Just one young Painted this time.

Staying along the river, we spied another chelonian basking... but the shell looked more domed. I stretched out my zoom while Andrea noticed that someone else was photographing it... our friend Chris!

While we stood there talking, a Painted swam by.

We explored around the edge of the river together. Chris found a Pickerel Frog and I managed the very worst possible picture you can get while still being able to ID it. I defy anyone to do worse.

On the way back, another Musk had crawled up on to the log, along with a Painter.
Now, there were three shells soaking up the sun.

Heading out, we flipped a few boards that Chris had just flipped about an hour ago. I saw nothing and stepped on the board to hit another and he said "No! Be careful!" On the far end of the board, he had seen a small coil of Garter earlier... one that was in fact still there.

While we talked in the parking lot, this Great Spangled Fritillary was making itself at home on the bumper of a truck, enjoying moisture, pollen or whatever Fritillarys like.
Great Spangled Fritillary

We said our goodbyes and went for pizza before heading over to another nearby spot... one we had been to before with little success. Despite being a lot more thorough` this time, it still wasn't very successful. We did see a small Bullfrog.

And we saw a large, fat American Toad.

Mostly, we listened to caterpillar poops hit the ground and lamented how trash-filled the place was. And not in a good artificial cover kind of way. Just dirty and yucky. On the way out, we saw a doe grazing in an open field.

Almost to the car, this was blocking our exit.
Ummm... hey there, Mr. Buck. How are ya? Standing your ground, huh?

We took a trail off to the side instead.

We hit one more spot before hitting the highway but it was overgrown and buggy and I had just put on my pussy hat. We didn't stay long.

Not a killer day count-wise, to be sure, but 8+ hours being out and about and seeing some animals always makes for a fine day. It is good to know that more than Redbacks survived the winter in Bristol County.

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