Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter doesn't have to suck. Jan. 9 & 10, 2016

With just one solitary herp on the year (albeit a snake) we were eager to get a few more species photographed. There were some brutally cold days since the past weekend but Saturday the 9th wasn't so bad. Then again, it wasn't so good, either. After doing errands and goofing off, we found ourselves without much daylight and warmth left in the day. We headed to a close-by Suffolk County spot.

We had thoughts of Ambystoma but when even Redbacks proved to be no-shows, we wrote off that idea. There was still ice under many of the rocks and logs so after 3/4 of an hour of fruitless flipping, we decided to cut to the chase and head straight to the running streams. Two-lines are made of stronger stuff! Sure enough, I flipped some larvae, who promptly escaped my net before I could get them into an observation tank. We soon managed a larger larvae and a small adult, though.

Finally, we scored the bright, "calm" adult we were seeking for a glamour shot.
Mission accomplished.

Leaving the woods, we walked behind some buildings in the adjacent parking lot. A board next to one of them had me thinking... maybe it's warmer right there near the wall. I flipped and was rewarded with our Redback.
He slowly turned tail and slid into a hole in the foundation.

In our allotted time (about an hour), we managed our first Two-lines and Redback of 2016. Satisfaction was achieved.

We had been expecting a call for beach patrol on the next day (Sunday) but it never came. The winds would be howling and the rain torrential.  Since we weren't needed, I wanted to take advantage of the warm temps (53°) and the downpour and hit our local hot-spot to look for Ambystoma. I had found a January Blue-spotted under similar conditions the year before. Andrea wisely decided to stay home where it was warm and dry.

The rain was amazing and the path was a running river.

I flipped a lot and finally found some of the Redbacks that were so elusive the day before.

I headed down towards the snake dens to flip some logs and rocks in the area. Of course, I couldn't help but peek at the dens themselves. But the rain was hard and the 53° felt raw with the wind. All that said, I was only a little bit surprised to see this young Northern Water Snake stretching along near the entrance to his den.
Of course, I'm not keen on touching snakes in the winter but I did handle him to get a better look at those light scars on his back. My guess is healed frostbite. It looks so similar to the sea turtles' frostbite scarring. These spots felt fine and the skin appeared healthy. So did the snake, who struck at me in typical Nerodia fashion.

About 10 feet away, a second Water Snake was crawling along... a near 3-footer.
It was pouring... these guys were really Water Snakes.

As much as I hate winter, I kind of hope we get a long stretch of cold so these animals can get deep into the ground. Staying shallow isn't doing them any good, what with the frostbite and cool weather excursions. The Spring mating season is going to be a mess!

I was soaked, despite wearing my super-duper rain jacket. I headed home and changed before going to the New England Herp Society meeting.  There, we saw some friends and got to see a Box Turtle pigging out...

a Red Tegu nom down a couple dozen grapes...

and we got Sir John a new deluxe crib which really suits his circular spine.

As we await our annual Everglades trip, it feels downright weird to see snakes up here in Massachusetts. While I certainly enjoy seeing them (healthy ones, at that) in the winter, I'm starting to worry about the Spring love-fest. Will these snakes care about mating with no proper brumation? Time will tell, I guess.

Till then, I will keep an eye on them.


  1. see i worry about the critters not getting enough sleep with the warm winter too

  2. !Hace friiiiio en ése lugar!!!!!Hermosas fotos !Cariños Martha