Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Snakes of November 11-08-2015

Sunday was cold. Surely too cold for snakes. It was 52°. Yet we headed over to a place in Norfolk County to look for snakes. We wanted to set a new record for ourselves... our latest snake ever (in MA) was November 7th, last year. The sun was going to be on our side. We just had to be tenacious.

By 10:30 AM, we were at our destination, walking the chilly trails. Of course, any potential snake would be barely poking his noggin out of a den, testing the warmth of the sun. Still, we couldn't resist flipping a few logs. This got us a Redback or two.

A rock strewn hill... this was where we wanted to be. We herped side by side, we herped spread out, we even herped up and down.

The rocks were plenty warm. We cursed the limitations of our vision. Why, just 3 inches out of our line of focus, a snake pate could be out. Luckily,about an hour in, a slim Garter Snake made it easy for us ... he was stretching across a rock for maximum basking power.
I broke my rule of "no need to handle it if you got a decent picture"... he might be our last snake of 2015 and, well... he was just so cute.

Mission accomplished. We took that trail to the end, and in fact saw another Garter sliding off into the bushes. The ambient temperature had soared to around 55°. We walked back to the car, happy with our success. We headed toward home, intending to stop at one more place. A place that we know where the dens are.

On the way, we did a little birding. Here are 28 Rock Doves.

We got to the second spot at about 1 PM and I'm not going to lie... it was cold. Still, we headed to the sunny dens. I was poking around an area when I looked back and saw Andrea in mid-lunge. She had found our Halloween friend, the Ribbon Snake!
Definitely the same guy... you could tell from his scars. The healing injuries on the ventral part of his tail had improved a lot in the last 8 days.
You can see Andrea reflected in his eye.
We let him go and he slid into the mound and was gone.

We went to the adjoining park to see if any more snakes would be up basking but many of the rocks were in the shade already. These short days are killing us. We decided to climb the hill and look for a bird that our friend Bob said we should look for. Besides, there's a bathroom up there. The view was nothing to sneeze at.

Cheating by using an E-bird report, we found out that right near the bathrooms, a Dickcissel has been seen hanging out with House Sparrows. There was a group of House Sparrows there so I took a picture. That guy on the right is a young Dickcissel, giving me my #94 bird on the year (and a "rarity" point in the contest) and my Lifer #136.
Dickcissel (on right) RARE #94 Lifer #136

After we descended, we helped a group of young, college aged birders find the Red-headed Woodpecker that we saw here last week. It was good to see folks of this age enjoying nature. There is hope.

We headed back towards the car slowly, taking our time to enjoy beautiful sights. Like my wife.
This is the beautiful sight she was photographing while I was photographing her.
Mmmm... herp heaven. It's hard to believe that this sight is technically in Boston.

We gave "Redback Rock" a flip and there were three Redbacks under it. They were all too fast for our cameras and our hands. See?

We spent the rest of our time there in a waterless vernal pool looking for Ambystoma. We found none but Andrea found a lot of Beggar's Ticks, the most annoying plant seed of them all.
Beggar's Ticks

So, we had set a new record for ourselves... 2 snakes on November 8th. That makes nine herp species in November for me! Oh, make that 10. Monday, on the way to get groceries, I turned in to the nearby cemetery to see if any Hooded Mergansers were in the pond. No, just a hundred or so Canada Geese... and a hearty Red-eared Slider.
"Invasive" or not, this guy deserves to be here... he's a tough cookie! (Plus, he wasn't planning an invasion. He just sat there enjoying the autumn sun.)

If they're not hibernating, neither are we.


  1. I would love to have more success this month, but I would be totally happy if that ribbon is our last snake of 2015.

  2. did you get the tick seeds off before yous got in the car?

    1. She removed most of them at the kitchen table.