Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Happy 4th of July, Chelonian Style 7-4-2015

With our dear son (that we never wanted) Matty Cub-Cub in tow, we headed out to some Middlesex County spots to try to find him his lifer Blanding's Turtle on this overcast Independence Day. Somehow, we have been having decent luck with that species this year and we hoped we could find another. The sun was being shy, though, which was going to make basking turtles a tough find. I made the call to hit our expected last place first. I had a reason but I can't remember it now.

The place had grown up pretty high since our last visit here and it was going to be tough to spot herps and even harder to photograph them. Matt was spotting a few though. I'll never know how I would have fared as he stayed a good 20 feet in front of us, claiming all of the animals for his own vouchers. HAH! Just kidding, Cub. He spotted the first Water Snake but I had absolutely no shot. I decided to get artsy with it.

This guy was more in view.

The next Nerodia was hidden but with my contortionist training, I got a head shot of him.

Turtles? They seemed even more elusive than the frogs that we kept hearing but not seeing. Finally, we saw a Painted catching some clouds.

Andrea got this beautiful shot of some Bees doing their thing.

We saw a few more partially hidden Water Snakes and Painted Turtles and did our best with photos...
There may have been a Blanding's or two up but damned if we saw them.

We only made a quick run this time. We next headed deeper into the county to what was originally going to be our first stop. Upon hitting the trail, I almost immediately saw a fairly large Garter slither off. He was posing pretty well for a shot while I fiddled with my camera, then moved on... forcing me to get another compromised photo.

We were hearing frogs and I even saw and (very poorly) photographed a small Green but this Turtle-Heaven was conspicuously shell-free. Soon, Matt went diving off of a boardwalk and grabbed an unruly Garter that was trying to avoid the Paparazzi. We tried to calm it (those are Andrea's hands, not Matt's...)
Finally, it did us a favor and got between two slats for a clear, hands-free shot.

The next Garter sat calmly on a log while we got her picture.

We had reached Water Snake county. The Nerodia here were far easier to photograph, like these two.

About 10 feet away, this trio... a small male and his BBW friends... let us get right up close for their glamour shots.

We saw Julius Caesar eating high bush blueberries!
(It was super buggy and we were doing our best to fend off biting flies with bug spray and Sweet Fern.)

We finally got some decent photos of a couple of Green Frogs. The second guy I couldn't even see until Andrea practically touched his nose pointing him out to me.

This large Bullfrog was hard to miss though.
Looks like he has a Zippy the Pinhead ribbon on his head.

Now I'm pretty useless usually but I do have decent height. That is the only reason I saw a big turtle basking on a log that was mostly hidden by bushes from the path. I snapped a quick picture...
Blurry yes, but Matt had his Blanding's. We looked at it briefly as I tried for an in focus shot and it splashed into the drink.

This young Painted wondered what all of the fuss was about.

We pushed on in hopes of a Leopard Frog but we were getting eaten alive by bugs. We saw another Bull...
... and a Green...
before we ran out screaming.

Wouldn't you know it, we saw a young American Toad while we were speeding by. I had to stop and get his picture.

And this Painter needed his portrait done, too.

We had fed many mosquitoes there and we ran to the car and scratched ourselves raw. We decided that OP2 (original place #2) should be skipped because it's buggy even on a good day. We couldn't imagine the bites we would endure, so we headed back to the place we had gone earlier. The sun had been making a weak attempt to shine every now and again. Maybe some turtles were up by now. We were back herping about a half hour later.

We saw a half of a cage floating in the water and looked for the marker of the other half. It had sunk. Matt pulled it up in order to put the cage back together. This was in the lost half.
This is a Snapper size we rarely see. He was a beauty.

To make things even funnier (looking), Matt spied this Musk up basking, a first sighting of this species in this place.

Andrea found these Red Milkweed Beetles having sexy time.
Tetraopes tetrophthalmus

I had a super-cute young Painted Turtle swimming near a dock. Ever-fast with the camera, I got a pic of his butt.
Just like I wanted! Honest!

Matt (again) spied this Garter resting after a meal.

Lagging way behind, I saw this Bullfrog sitting on top of the water.

A smiling Painter.

Here's a Garter that Andrea saw but I didn't. Hey, it's a voucher.

This Painted Turtle yawned three times and I couldn't get a shot of it.

Matt finally found his other target for this place, a couple of Northern Leopard Frogs.

One last Bullfrog, if you please.

And a sweet coil of Garter sleeping off her 4th of July lunch. More likely, she's knocked up.

We too wanted some lunch but no place was open for the 4th so we headed home, happy that we had hit a few targets. We were asleep before the Boston fireworks display stopped booming.


  1. Great post! Day well spent. Love the shots of the water snakes - very pretty.

    1. Thank you! Yes, Water Snakes are often overlooked, but we love 'em!