Monday, June 8, 2015

Spring in Massachusetts 6-6-2015

We have been wanting to hit some of our favorite spots (and explore new ones) in the western part of Massachusetts but we hadn't had much of a chance yet in 2015. We had hoped to visit a friend last Saturday but she had other plans. We went out to Berkshire County anyway... just to see what we could see. We missed the sheep and wool show that we usually tie into this place so we traveled west with just herps in mind.

Its a 2 1/2 hour drive to reach our destination and we didn't get there until about noon. This place was good for Efts, Dookies, and erythrystic Redbacks and we hoped to find all of them. There is a river here that we swear would be good for both Wood Turtles and Spring Salamanders, though we'd never seen either species here. We headed right in and started off in good form when we spied a Garter Snake.
Say, let's pick this guy up to see his face!
Yeah, he didn't care for us. Sorry, Sir Talis.

Next up was a regular Redback... a big beauty.

It was plenty moist here, having recently rained. The next flip, a good 100 feet from the water, had a Two-Lined and two Redbacks!

The next flip made us see orange. A lovely, vivid Eft...

...and a coveted erythrystic Redback, who wouldn't cooperate for photos.

Even orange flowers were popping up.

We had been to this spot a few years ago when American Toads were gittin' busy. We wondered if the stream had been inundated by amplexing amphibians recently. A quick look at the water's edge told us yes.

We flipped some rocks in the shallows. We got a Two-lined larvae...

...while Andrea found a Pickerel Frog.

I was skimming in the water and came up with an adult Two-lined, another larvae and a small fish, probably a Black-nose Dace. I couldn't corral a Sculpin, of which there were many.

We split up a bit after missing a huge American Toad photo. It lumbered off slowly while we scratched our heads. I did see another Pickerel, though.

Andrea worked hard on one side as I crossed to the other.

At Andrea's suggestion, I checked in a shadier part, a kind of off-shoot of the main river. I had found a lot more Toadpoles and when I flipped a rock in shallow water... my heart stopped. Nirvana.
Years of searching for Spring Salamanders in Massachusetts had finally paid off!! Gyro City!
We had seen them in Pennsylvania and Virginia and learned a lot about their needs and habitat but we had never seen one in the Bay State. Until now.
Damn nice to find a target; indeed a milestone for us.

Elated, we moved up the river into an idyllic area that, while we found no herps, it filled us with happiness.
Even when we saw this bear's scratching post right there.

At the start of the day, we had run into a local couple who told us about the "haunted campsite" and cemetery nearby. Always wanting to see new stuff, we went to look for it. We found it, but it wasn't the ghosts that interested me... it was the debris!
That said, we didn't actually flip any snakes with our efforts (just a few mice) but we know they are there. Perhaps we were too late in the day; it was mid-afternoon by now. We will hit it again next time.

But it is a cool, spooky place. We saw no ghosts but hey, I'm open to anything.

The story of the place is here... take it with a grain of salt. Or a whole shaker.

We went over to the nearby cemetery, which was also quite lovely and peaceful. Old graves and some newer ones (as recent as 2009).

The cemetery-keeper was a plump Redback.

We packed up and went down-river to a potentially more Woody area.

No Woods yet (though like the Spring, we will  triumph in this river one day...) but we saw some Two-lines...

Further on, at a known Dusky spot, we managed only a Two-lined larvae.

Moving on further (actually, heading closer to home) we hit another gorgeous spot where we hadn't seen anything in the past.
Gorgeous even with no herps but we saw a Two-line,
and tons of Toadpoles.

And eventually, a huge, fat American Toad.

Our last stop before the highway was another new spot to us. I only managed a trio of Black-nose Gace there.
Black-Nose Dace
Man, fish in an observation tank is even crazier than salamanders.

So, only a 7 species trip after a 2 1/2 hour drive but it was a screaming success!! Not only did we see our first Massachusetts Spring, but it was a full-on gorgeous specimen! Fun day, ice cream (Deep Purple Cow) and love. Next time, perhaps we'll get to hitch up with our friend and see snakes and ghosts at the haunted campsite.

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