Monday, October 5, 2015

Making Lemonade. October 3rd and 4th, 2015

It is amazing how abruptly this herp season came to a grinding halt. Oh, it's not over but the season sure changed hard and fast this last week. It started with torrential downpours on Thursday and Friday. That's OK, we needed it. But the temps dropped too and we knew that the weekend was going to be a tough one... cold and rainy. Armed with that forecast, we switched gears and decided to concentrate on the herps that don't mind the crappy weather... Salamanders.

We got a late start on Saturday, which is fine. We slept in and did some errands before meeting Teá and Mike at a nearby Suffolk County spot that has plenty of good vernals... and a population of rare (for this state) Blue-spotted Salamanders. In a most amazing feat of pure Andreaism, her first flip produced a big ol' Blue!
Mission accomplished, but plows and tractors were destroying the habitat as we stood there. (A nearby cemetery is expanding and from the looks of it, leveling the hill in which these guys, Redbacks and Spotted Sals hibernate.)

Further up, we started seeing the beautiful and ubiquitous Redback Salamander.

A dried up vernal had our second Blue-spotted.

From there on out, it was Redback City. We hiked for a while in hopes of a Spotted Sal (or less likely, a snake) but it was all Redbacks all the time. Which is fine by me.

Teá made this triple flip look easy! Leadback in da house.

Take that, shitty weather! We herped anyway!

Sunday was going to be a tough one to figure out. It  was supposed to have sunny moments but never get out of the 50s. We decided to hit a local Reptile Show to get some supplies and look at cute stuff before hitting a Norfolk County spot in hopes of seeing Andrea's Marbled Salamander population. We met Teá and Mike again at the venue, where Teá generously presented us with a gorgeous, living gift! An Avicularia versicolor spiderling!
Such a beauty... I hope we can give it a good life.

After the show, we headed home to drop off frozen mice and live spider, then headed back to our herping destination. We got there at about 3 PM... late by anyone's standards. It hadn't hit 60° all day but the sun was warm. Still, no snakes were seen. Or frogs. Or turtles. Or toads. But bless the salamanders.

Redbacks were plentiful. I didn't photograph many, keeping the blog in mind and not wanting to inundate it with a plethora of plethodons.

We got to a stream that was surprisingly dry. After the tons of rain 3 days prior, we figured it would be running strong. But this gave us a chance to walk right out into the bed to flip for Two-lined Salamanders. I flipped a dark one right away before going for a brighter one as well. Good thing, too, because the darker one was a squirmy Leadback! The light was going and this wet stream bed is always full of 2-lines... I had just assumed...

Luckily, I had also found a nice bright Two-line.

We hiked on, flipping obvious snake spots, knowing we wouldn't see any but hoping for Spotted Salamanders. They have been a tough species this year. We got down near the suspected (but eventually proven not to be) Marbled Vernal pool. It too was dried up, but it was moist under some logs and sticks and we were treated to the sight of this small fella.
Ah, hitting targets is a wonderful thing.
Look at that face!!

So, mission accomplished again, we headed back. It was getting pretty dark by this time anyway. We kept flipping, hoping for a Spotted but only Redbacks were representin'.

I was just about to say how it was sad that we might not see any Spotteds east of Hampden County when Andrea flipped this noggin-head.
*whew* Just when I had given up.

So that ended our rainy weekend excursions but we feel great that we didn't give up and call the weekend off. Hopefully, we'll get a few more warm days and some more reptiles as well but we sure feel smart that we targeted... and found... some special amphibians on this cool, wet weekend.

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