Friday, August 7, 2015

Saturday, August 1 - Dualing Geekeries

Mike was working the Boston Comic Con ALL WEEKEND, and I needed to get out and do some hard work herping. I decided to go to a popular pond in Norfolk County where I feel pretty safe being on my own.

Did I say this place was popular? Well, it seems to be more popular than ever, lately. The small lot was full, and parking spots were being invented. I literally (and I don't use the word "literally" loosely) got into the last available place I could make a parking spot, and walked down toward the gate. I saw a large group (30-35 people) gathered there, and from the looks of them, they probably just did a group run.

I immediately had to go find a secluded spot to, um, look for wood frogs. I couldn't resist doing a little bit of flipping, even though my bladder wanted to burst. I flipped some bark and found a redback that would NOT hold still. I was standing, bent forward, under a tree branch holding up the bark in one hand and trying to get the camera to focus on the redback with the other hand. This was the best I could do:

Moving along, I found a drainage ditch that had some water in it. It was occupied by a couple of young green frogs. A very friendly dog came running up to me while I was photographing them, so I only got a picture of one before they went under the water.


I was a real bundle of energy today, so I took advantage of all of the side trails, thinking that snakes would be more likely in the woods than out in the sun (it was quite hot out). These side trails offer not only quiet places to pee, but access to the water. When I took this photo, I had thought that the tall, leaning stick was a heron, because I thought I saw movement near the top of it.


 I didn't see anything in it until I uploaded it.


There appears to be a kingbird here!

But, wait, there's more!


Do you see it, in the far right, on top of the stick? It appears to be some kind of turtle! I can't tell what kind, but would guess it's probably a painted.

I next got a slightly better picture of a redback.

While I was photographing that, I saw some movement. Several blurry photos later, I got a voucher shot of a tiny spring peeper. It was the size of my pinky fingernail.


I got to the dam area, which is maybe a quarter of a mile walk directly in the sun. I looked as I was walking for some water snakes or turtles about, but couldn't find anything. I may have moved more quickly than I usually do; when it's hot like that, not even the reptiles want to be in the direct sun.

When I got back in the woods, I got my best photo of the day.


I opted not to go down the boardwalk, since a family of six just came out, and I figured they would have scared everything in. I planned on sitting on the log at the entrance to eat my lunch, but there was no shade there, so I went to where I knew there were some logs set up like seats, in a circle and ate in the shade.

I went down one short pathway to see if there were any turtles up; we saw a spotted turtle there last month. All I could see was one small painted swimming around, but my camera would only focus on the reflections of the leaves. I went back, figuring I would flip the log I had neglected to on my way down.

It was already occupied.


I tried to not disturb him, but I guess my presence was too offensive.



Cool little guy (actually a fairly large toad).

I took advantage of all the side trails again, especially the ones where we have found things before. I flipped the "four-toed" log and found nothing.

One of the side trails was obviously one I had never gone down before (the backpack is mine).




The stone fireplace has obviously been there for a long time. I had seen some foundations in the area, so I know there is a history. What made me raise an eyebrow was the tarp hanging by the stone seat, combined with this:


Okay, so I know that I've seen way too many horror movies, but this made me very aware that I was a smallish female alone on a trail this isn't often traveled that has been used as a not-legal campsite. Yes, I'm possibly paranoid. Not so much that I didn't flip a few rocks and some tin before getting back on the main trail.

On the main trail, I was reminded of what fucking pigs some people are.


Yes, that's a dirty diaper on the side of the trail, brought to you by the same sort of person who picks up their dog's shit in a plastic bag and chucks it onto the trail. Carry in, carry out, asshole.

I got to a hillside that can be really good for flipping. I cut right to the chase and went to the spot where I have found ringnecks most often. Flipping one particular large, flat stone, I was reminded again that I was alone: I needed two hands for the stone, and another hand to grab what was under it. Oops.

This small garter made a run (crawl?) for it.


I noticed something funky on its back, and I wanted to get a closer look. I had seen the rock it went under, and hoped that this time I could catch it.

There was something more than funky on its back:




It appears to be healing, but that's some injury. I couldn't tell if it had a recent meal, or if its bulge was the result of this injury. I'm hoping it's a meal, because between that, and the run this one gave me, this is a little garter who just might make it.

I managed to flip n' miss another garter, who darted down a hole in between the rocks. The only other thing I flipped was this large millipede:


Things were uneventful until I got to the camping/swimming area. It was fairly busy there, but a few regulars recognized me from past trips. I still didn't flip many rocks because a) there were so many people and I didn't feel like explaining what I was doing, and b) rocks are heavy. I did see an impressively sized nerodia shed skin near the rocks:


There was also a decent sized milk shed skin coming out of a hole in the wall.


It's hard to see in the photo, but there are distinct saddles on this shed. That, plus the smooth scales, plus having seen a milk at this very spot last month, helped me to ID this.

On my way out, I found another handsome toad under some rotting log pieces. It was damp and cool in there.


I had to run some errands after this trip, and by the time I got home, I was exhausted and hungry. The exhaustion would run into the next day, causing me to change plans and go out much later than intended. That story will be in the next blog post...


  1. i love the stoic look on that last toad's face

  2. Just finished catching up on all the posts I've missed- looks like you guys have had quite a summer!
    Any idea what species that millipede is? I've flipped them in both the Fells and the Hills but I've never gotten a satisfying ID.

    1. I haven't looked up the millipede yet! I'm so lax when it comes to many insects and the like. I'll try to be better!