Monday, September 14, 2015

You can't win 'em all... 9-12, 2015

After the previous week's astounding success, perhaps we got a bit cocky. You can't get too confident with this particular passion. We always say it.. you can learn the habitats, the behavior, the ideal conditions... but the animals call the shots.

We got a head start on the weekend by going over to a nearby spot on Friday night (Sept. 11th) after work. The sun is setting very early these days so our time was extremely limited. Our plan was to check on the local Blue Spotted Salamanders, a population that we feel are in real danger due to a nearby cemetery's expansion. We flipped a muddy, dried vernal for a while. I left it to look on a rocky hill when Andrea spied one of our blue spotted pals.
Well, there was at least one survivor. And this little guy is this-year's-model. That's a relief.

Andrea (again) saw a Peeper hop by and go into a tree crevice. My good ol' flash penetrated and caught the frog in inaction.

The last herp we saw in our half-hour excursion was this fine Wood Frog that hopped into our sights.

We got up nice and early on Saturday to head out to Western MA to look for Hognoses and Box Turtles. Surely we would be very successful. We'd probably park the car and they'd all be waiting right there for us... maybe with a welcoming banner. We picked up the son we never wanted, Matt, and drove through thick fog and drizzly weather the whole way there... perfect. We got there by 10 AM. And it had become warm and sunny. HUH?

Needless to say, all three of us scoured for nearly 3 hours and wound up with about a half dozen Redbacks. They were all big, strong Redbacks too. Here are some of them...
But that's it. I love these guys but I can get them 100 yards from my house. Driving 2 hours each way makes me think we should find something we don't have in town.

Oh well, we cruised a bit and still failed so we headed out to find a sandwich shop. On the way, I pulled over to a stream to look at it. Looks good and Woody. This nearly black Green Frog was hanging out.

And we flipped a golden Two-lined Salamander.
Doubled the species count of the other place in 5 minutes. This informed my decision on where to herp next. Streams... I love 'em.

We got some chow (and I ate a sandwich! It wasn't easy but it happened!) and headed to the next spot. We passed what used to be Cardboard Garter Garden but it is now full-on ornamental garden. No more cardboard. There might still be Garters but its not OK to root through it anymore.

The next spot, a pond we like, was crowded with humanity. Still, we foraged on. Matt saw a turtle drifting into the water from shore and got his mitts on it... a mid-sized Snapper.

Matt also spied this lovely Pickerel that I had managed to walk right past.
Now this is more like it. Animals.

This Water Snake was up basking on some sticks.
I saw a small guy doing the same thing a bit later but he slid into the drink before I got my lens cap off.

We set about foraging in a stream that looked good for Wood Turtles and Spring Salamanders. We found neither. I heard a massive plop and it was this medium sized Green Frog.

Sure that I wasn't going to find Woods or Springs, I intently set my sights for Northern Duskies. Dookies make all things good. I flipped one and readied to photograph it. Matt came over and said "isn't that a Redback?" I looked at the picture on my camera.
Sure is.

What right does a Redback have to be right at the water's edge under a rock and be all dark brown and stuff? What is the world coming to?

My next Dookie was much more Desmoggy.

Well, I'd like to say that we killed it for a second week in a row but that's just not the case. Still, even a slow day in the field is a great day. We had fun and got filthy and sweaty and dirty and scuzzy and gross. And sometimes, that is what makes it all worthwhile.


  1. It was definitely box turtle weather yesterday- I saw my second ever live one, a female, down in Sandwich. The Cape is easy pickings though- I hope you guys someday get a damn western MA boxy!
    Always remember- no day with blue spotteds is a failure, my friends!

    1. I agree... any day you get to witness nature is a great day! Even the common species are a treat to be savored! Congratulations of the Sandwich Box!!