Sunday, May 31, 2015

Home Cookin' Still Tastes Good. 5-30-2015

After that amazing weekend in Pennsylvania, how could we go back to our own Massachusetts herps and still enjoy it? Quite easily, actually.We went to a place in Middlesex County that can be pretty turtley at times. With but one turtle to our name in PA (a Wood... if you're going to just see one turtle, it might as well be that), we wanted some chelonian fun. Plus, it is nesting season and maybe we'd get lucky with some gals unloading eggs.

It was hot by the time we got there (later than planned, about 11 AM), already in the mid-80s. It took a while before we found our first herp, a Redback that matched the color of the mud he was in.

Right nearby, a small Bullfrog was sitting in the water while pollen swirled around him.

Andrea heard a snake sound and saw a big Garter girl go into the bush next to a tree. Luckily, I was on the other side and got this quick snap.

Her suitor was nearby and watched her (like us) as she went straight up and into the tree under a piece of bark and disappeared. Very Rat Snake-like of her.
It looks as though both of them were in the blue.

We finally got to some turtles. Painteds were scattered about in different basking spots.

Know what are cute? Canada Goose goslings.

One log had a very odd looking Painted Turtle basking. Odd because it was a Snapper!

We saw a Water Snakes coils in the water. I got this shot...
and then never saw it again!

A proper Painted posing its posterior perfectly.

We wanted to enter the wooded area but the trail was being guarded by a Meleagris gatekeeper.
A Red-winged Blackbird dive-bombed her a few times and she moved on.

I couldn't get a good shot but there was another Snapper, much larger this time, basking in a pond way off trail.
He dramatically dove in when I got close.

The next two Painteds we saw had very smooth shells and were pretty large. We guessed they are old-timers, living a life of happiness where they don't have to cross roads to nest. The first one has some good battle scars, though.

At our turn around point, there was a thin, young Bullfrog hanging out.

We stopped and sat for a while as this young Painted looked on.

We started to move on and we could see a turtle in the path about 20 feet ahead. "Looks like another Painted!", I said like an idiot. When we got close, I said... "nope- not a Painted".
Hot digglety damn, we had another Blandings!
He was notched, which means he's a head-started individual. He wasn't nearly as timid as the one a couple of weeks ago. Here is a film of him scurrying into the brush...

That was exciting. It's always such a treat to see these guys. This was the smallest Blanding's we had ever seen.

This Bullfrog caught my eye. He was up on the end of a log. That dragonfly buzzed right in front of him as I snapped the picture. He didn't notice it, evidently.

Now, these are Painteds!

We were almost to the parking lot when Andrea said, "Look what is right in front of me."
A gorgeous, skinny Garter. That dorsal stripe is one of the colors I love... a blue/gray latex house paint stripe.

So, that was fun. But we had more plans. Teá had invited us down to Plymouth County where she was going to be doing evening moth work. We needed to grab a bite first and we hit some shitty traffic getting there but we finally got to her at a bit after 6 PM. We made plans to poke around a bit before the sun went down and we started off at a boggy spot where we flipped this gorgeous Ribbon Snake.
Long and beautiful.

There were plenty of turtle tracks in the sand. We followed a few of them but never found the turtles at the end...

There were a few Bulls and Greens enjoying the bog.

We moved on to another spot, closer to where Teá had to set up her equipment. We told her we had not yet seen any Fowler's Toads yet. She said, "oh... don't worry about that." We could already hear their ridiculous call in the distance. Then we started seeing them...

This guy looked at me and said, "I shall look forward personally to exterminating you, Mr. Bond."

By now it was getting quite noisy with Fowler's, Gray Tree Frogs (another 2015 need-it) and Peepers. See?

Teá found the first Gray...
It didn't want to hang out in Andrea's hand too long.

We moved down the road a bit to where Teá had to set up. She turned us loose in a pond that was filthy with Grays. Here are some of our sights:

There were some Bulls present here too.
^Ride-'em Cowboy.

We couldn't get enough of the deafening Grays.

We hit the road for some cruising, hoping for Milk Snakes but finding humping Fowler's Toads instead.
They stayed engaged as they (she) hopped away.

We headed out, saying goodbye and many thanks to Teá. On the way out, we cruised our 12th species of the day, a pretty Wood Frog.

There was a toad in the road that I got out to move and thought how funny it would be to put him in the driver's seat of the car. He stayed there for .045 of a second and jumped onto Andrea's seat.

Our last herp of the night was a very matter-of-fact Gray.
He completely disappeared without either of us seeing where he went. Uncanny.

So, even though Pennsylvania has great herps and we really kicked some ass down there, we're also very pleased with what we saw up here in the frozen North as well. Of the 12 species we saw this day, 6 of them we did not see as part of our 25 species all last weekend. There are still so many discoveries to be made.