Monday, December 14, 2015

Joyful and Triumphant. 12-12-2015

Saturday, December 12th. We had a Christmas party in the evening. But it was going to be mild and sunny and, well... we thought we'd check the dens for sunning snakes. Oh come all ye squamates.

It was roughly 60° by noon and we headed straight to Robles' den first thing, naturally. He was not out and about so we moved down to Sly's den. I had commented on how there hadn't been any Garters at this spot since the Spring. As I was looking around the mound, Andrea called "Garter"... right there, tucked away in a small patch of sun, a December 12th Garter.
What a face!

We checked the Valley of Nerodia with no sightings. Heading up the trail to the rock wall dens, we flipped a frisky duo of Redbacks.

The rock wall dens seemed empty at first and I started to get distracted by a Downy Woodpecker who was cleaning out a hole in a tree.

Soon, however, Andrea again called "Garter".
While photographing the above snake, she said, "and another right there..."

The rock wall dens had been very good to us. We added another Redback before turning back.

We decided to poke around a path that was new to us as it was still fairly early. Along the side of the new path was a stunning, clean Garter chilling in the sun, or rather... sunning in the chill.
Beautiful snow-white stripe.

Further along, we saw another stone walled den-looking area. We saw no animals but lots of potential. After looking around for 20 minutes or so, we headed back. We looked for Ol' White Stripe but she had moved. We saw her, up about 3 feet in the patch of sun that had moved higher. It put "I'll Follow the Sun" into my head for the day.

Heading to the car, we decided to cut through the Valley of Nerodia again. At the exact same moment, we both saw this...
Right there at the den opening...
These two cyclopian Water Snakes were testing the December air. I got too close with the camera and the one that was outside slid right over the other and into the ground like lightning. Cold she was not.

Damn, that was six snakes on December 12th!!! Every sighting is a new record.

We checked Sly's den again and, like White Stripe, the first Garter had moved up, keeping in the traveling sunlight.

We checked on Robles again but he was still not outside that we could see. We went home, had lunch and prepared to go to the Christmas party in Worcester. Hey... Worcester is the easternmost extent of the Dusky Salamander's range in Massachusetts. Let's get into our finery, but hit the streams for a bit before the party.

Driving the turnpike out there was a race against dusk... a race I inevitably lost. We got out there just after the sun set. With an intermittent flashlight and stupid determination, we tried to find a Dookie anyway.

Wet leaves, darkness and idiocy took its toll and we decided to admit defeat. I saw a few Two-lined Salamanders, though. One of them looked just like this:

We'll have plenty of time throughout the cold months to look for stream salamanders (bless their chilly little hearts) but to see snakes this far into December in New England is not only amazing but it's completely unprecedented in our experience. Truly a magical season.


  1. but global warming is a myth........... right?
    btw i like andrea's choice of footware with her outfit **i would have chosen the same thing

    1. Global warming... El Niño... whatever, I'll enjoy it while I can.

  2. !qué vida llevan ustedes!!!! !tendrian que estar en Africa donde hay víboras de todo tamaño JAJA!!!UN BESO PARA TODOS Y FELICES FIESTAS!!!!MARTHA