Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Gypsies... with no Tramps or Thieves. 7-9-2015

As predicted, since we didn't get to bed until after 1:30 AM the night before, we were late to get in gear on this Thursday morning, the second morning of Andrea's vacation. As it was going to be hot and we were a bit tired from the previous day's exploits, we stayed fairly close to home and chose a spot that is in both Norfolk and Bristol County. We didn't get there until after noon and we knew this meant that animal behavior would be different than we encounter on our early morning jaunts.

The place was packed and much of the packing was camp kids. Yellow T-shirts galore. We hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. Still, despite the humanity, we saw a large Green Frog pretty quickly.

Just across the way was a big Bullfrog.

Then all of our nightmares came true... a group of kids came over for a dip-net class right where we were. Some rangers were there, ready to teach them the wonders of pond life. Surprisingly, just then, Andrea spied a good sized Garter Snake prowling the shore.
We got some pictures, then I caught it to show the kids, so they could feel its smooth, dry skin and perhaps gain a little respect for snakes. She musked me horribly, giving the kids a chance to see how stinky they can be, too. (One kid said it smelled awesome while one screamed. Both boys, for what its worth.)
As usual, the girls were more keen on learning about the snake than the boys. It's a curious thing.

We let the Garter go away from the kids and headed out on the trail, escaping the mob of adolescent humanity.

This place can be quite turtley at times but this one Painted Turtle was our only Chelonian find of the day. Thank goodness I had my good camera in my mitts again.

Andrea went off path and scared up a reddish, small Garter. She missed it. I came to the rescue and had it in my sights... and missed it. Oh well, you can't photograph them all.

Tis the season... Tiny Toads have started terrorizing the town!

This most Neroderiffic of places just wouldn't be the same without at least one Water Snake. This big gal was up basking.
We've not seen the last of her.

A non-tiny American Thumb Toad.

And the most uncooperative TT ever.

We were rooting around a sandy area when Andrea exclaimed "Ringneck!" Sure enough, she had wrangled up a beauty.
Though it had a couple of grains of sand in his mouth, making it look like a vampire. Andrea cleaned it out and got an attempted bite for her thanks.
Good looking animal, though.

Our favorite flutterbys...the Spangled Frittary.
Spangled Frittary

Now, we had seen a lot of moths. In fact, way more than usual. But when we got to a certain point in the forest, it became unbelievable. The very landscape and air was in constant movement... there were thousands of moths buzzing about. And the bad news is... they are Gypsy Moths. And more are coming.
Gypsy Moths
There were cocoons and moths in many parts of the woods but this area was thick. We headed out, worrying that the state might do something stupid, like spray in this amphibian sensitive place.

We got up to a clearing and I was poking around edge habitat when I heard Andrea call... I turned and saw this:
Hey, that doesn't look like a garter belly from here... if I didn't know better...
She had just uncovered a stunning specimen of a Milk Snake, our first (live) one here.
We had seen a mummified hatchling a couple of years ago and knew they'd be here but this was our first. And what a beauty.
Well, that kind of made the day more special.

We went for a while after that without seeing any more animals. In fact, we had headed back when we peeked in at our Water Snake buddy to see if she was still there. Despite kids playing in her water area, she was still up.

Walking along the path, Andrea noticed this on my shoulder...
Banded Netwing Beetle
A Banded Netwing Beetle.

Try as we did, we just couldn't find any salamanders up. It was pretty hot and frankly, we couldn't blame them. It was about 5 PM at this point and it was still pretty toasty. We only saw one last herp... but it was the reddish young Garter who had bested us a couple of hours earlier... right at the same spot!
Tenacity paid off.

This turned out to be a relatively short trip for us... about 5 hours. But we call it a success in many ways. Andrea was on fire; her snake-eyes were perfectly in tune. Having added another snake species to this place, we have now found 5 species here. (Only a Ribbon unaccounted for today.)

And tomorrow would be another vacation day.

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