Monday, August 31, 2015

Fitting in Herping 8-27 thru 8-29, 2015

I was a great honor to be asked to be a guest at the 2015 Fantacon in Albany NY! I went there to do a panel on horror comics and sell some books that I have written. I was truly thrilled to be a guest. But it was going to cut into our herping time. We had to think outside the box.

After work Thursday the 27th, we made plans to hit a nearby Suffolk County spot where one year ago (to the day) we had seen many hatchling Snapping Turtles. Of course, we'd be getting there much later in the day but it was still very warm (about 81°) when we arrived at roughly 6 PM. We saw no turtles, though. In fact, we saw no herps at all on the whole way in. Ah well, you takes yer chances. We headed back.

About halfway back, we saw a small Garter in the path. He wasn't in a good position to photograph, so I caught him for photos. He calmed down very quickly.
This bright, beautiful specimen was missing his left eye.
Yet another example of just how resilient these animals can be.

A bit further down the path, this little sirtalis was poking his noggin out...
Another bright, young guy.

I was following Andrea, which isn't always the best idea (I tend to look at her butt instead of for animals), when she lunged into the grass. She came up with what might be the most stunning DeKay's Snake I have ever seen.
Red sides with a racing stripe. What a gorgeous snake!

Things had certainly picked up once dusk set in. We were almost back to the car, wondering why we hadn't seen any toads yet. In response to our thoughts, this small American Toad made his presence known.
Not bad for a couple of hours after work.

The next day, Friday, I had a doctor's appointment in the morning. I would be going to work late. But the company party was in the afternoon and Andrea was attending with me so she took the day off. I didn't make it to work (with Andrea in tow) until about a half hour before we were to leave for the party. Well-timed, huh?!

My boss has a koi pond in his yard and often speaks of a Garter Snake that lives under an ornamental house on top of his waterfall. My herp friend Ryan, with whom I work, waited for us to get there, then we went and looked under the waterfall house...
A real beauty.

Andrea, Ryan, his girlfriend and I all took a short drive from the party to a nearby pond that our boss had told us about. We got there and noticed that is was a member's-only kind of place so I didn't explore it. Ryan said fuck-all with that and went in. He saw some frogs jumping in and a Painted Turtle poked its head up. While he was in there, we waited outside. There was a bird-of-prey chasing a red squirrel all around a tree. Fascinating. When the squirrel dropped to the ground and the hawk followed, I thought it was all over for it. But the hawk flew off to a rock wall to perch, empty handed.
Cooper's Hawk #91 (Lifer #134)
It is a Cooper's Hawk, a species we have seen before but not since I've been keeping count, so I dub him Lifer #134.

We left the party not long after 4 PM because I still had plenty of preparation for the weekend in Albany. When we hit the road, however, we realized we were pretty close to our favorite Leopard Frog spot. So we accidentally missed the on-ramp to home and wound up at one of our favorite haunts.

We had never been there this late (pushing 5 PM) so we figured turtles wouldn't be basking. (We were right.) But frogs wouldn't be a problem. This Pickerel was our first.

The grasses were filled with Northern Leopard Frogs. They were jumping out every step we took. Getting pictures was another story.

This guy jumped out, bounced off of a reed and landed in the safety of my instep.

We saw no snakes or turtles but the Leopards were plentiful.

When the shadows are getting longer than the frog, the sun is certainly getting low.

On the way out, I got this swell shot of a Pickerel and have determined that it is the very same one that we photographed on the way in.

We got up very early on Saturday morning to get on the road to Albany and get set up at the show at a reasonable hour. It was an uneventful drive. We were within a few miles of our destination when... hey. I had to find a bathroom. We pulled off the highway and found a small gas station where I did just that. After, while Andrea was doing the same, I flipped some rocks out back. When she emerged from the powder room, she saw me taking this photograph.
It was still 59° and this guy was in the blue. He wasn't too thrilled with us.

So we got there on time, set up and had a very good day, having fun, talking a lot and hanging out with our good friend Craig Yoe. After, we had some dinner and then made our way to Latham, NY where our hotel was located. While we parked and got ready to check in, we noticed plenty of wetlands around the hotel.

You can take the herpers out of the field but you can make us not herp. It turns out that our hotel was located in superb Green Frog habitat! We donned our headlamps and explored the periphery of the grounds. Here are some of the many Greens we saw:
^This guy was massive... one of the largest I have ever seen.


This guy is a real stunner...

There was a bunny up and hopping around, too.
(I couldn't get close enough for a better picture.)

But what a joy it was to be able to herp outside the hotel. These are bonus herps in our eyes.
And yes, we got some strange looks from our fellow hotel patrons.

We slept soundly that night and had a fun, if not profitable, day at the show on Sunday. We found ourselves with no time to herp on the way home (well, I flipped a few things outside the diner we ate at) but we're still very grateful for the chance to see a few animals while on the road for non-herp reasons.

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