Friday, April 29, 2016

A Day at the Racers. 4-24-2016

Oh, how we wanted a sunny day. And we got one. It was still going to be chilly, in the low 50s, but the sun was out and we wanted to try to get our cameras on some Racers. We went to an obvious spot in nearby Norfolk County. Much to our dismay, there was an overload of cars outside the park. We found a spot but we knew there would be more humans than usual there.

We started in and before too long, we saw a Garter Snake laying in the sun.
I know, I cut the tail off in this pic... let me get another... oh, wait... two off-leash dogs are plowing through the area... let me... just...
I didn't get a great shot but the snake made it to safety without being trod upon.

We flipped a Leadback who was safe from the ruckus of the path.

We were poking around an open sunny area when Andrea found someone who did need a helpful hand...
This hatchling Painted Turtle was making his way across the busy path. Having overwintered in his nest, this was his first time above ground and he had no idea how many huge human feet might be tromping by. Andrea moved him down to the edge of the water, making sure no snakes or Bullfrogs were nearby.
He is the size of a quarter. May he live to get 10 times that size.

Up the path, another small animal was out in the sun... a White-footed Mouse.

Despite the heavier than usual traffic on the path (which wasn't really that bad), we got to Racer Alley and found our target. We looked up the rocky hill and saw beautiful, smooth, black coils about 25 feet up.
She was noisily poking through the leaves... this is the best shot I could get of her face.
She slid into a crevice when she sensed our presence.

I scrambled up the rocks to peer into the hole.
To the side, a movement caught my eye... a poking tongue. I thought she was sticking her head out of a nearby opening... but this noggin was much much smaller.
My camera could not capture it properly but you can see just how adorable this wee racer's face was.

While trying to focus on that impossible shot, I heard a commotion about 15 feet to my right. I pointed the camera over to a noggin poking out of the leaves...
We had found the Racer sweet spot. These are the first Racers we have actually laid the camera on this year so they are technically our FOY.

While I was 25 feet up the side of the hill, Andrea found a good sized Wolf Spider in the sun.

Another cool insect we saw hovering around was a Bombyliidae (YES!), a bee-fly.

We made our way to the river and I saw a stack of Painted Turtles basking on the other side.

Closer to us, just across a small inlet, we saw this Painter standing there...

His neighbor was laying flat, like a respectable turtle.

We made our way into the wooded area. Out of the sun, it was much cooler so we didn't know how our luck would hold up for snakes. We flipped a couple of gorgeous Goldtop® Redbacks, though.

Having made it to our destination spot without adding more animals, we headed back, getting back to Racer Alley after a couple of hours. We heard a commotion in the leaves across from the rocky hill... this is what we saw.
We looked up and saw a nest about 25 feet straight up a tree... two baby squirrels had fallen out. One's eyes were still not open. The other was burying itself in leaves. We didn't know what to do. We put them together, first.

We decided, since the Racers were all over the place this day, that we should take them to the Wildlife Rehab place. Andrea called them first. They said that the mother would come for them eventually and we should build them a nest off of the ground. (They were overrun with squirrels people had brought in and this would be more helpful for the animals anyway.)

The tree next to the nest tree had a kind of bowl about 3 feet off the ground and a broken branch next to it. On top of that, I placed dozens of sticks around it until I had a fairly stable platform. I covered it with leaves and we placed the duo in the nest.
Hopefully, Mum came by a short while later and scooted them back up to the nest.

Directly across from that spot, on the rocky hill, we saw another decent sized Racer. And another about 50 yards further along. Those squirrels would have been mere snacks for these guys. Not that I'll ever root against a snake but I hope the little mammals made it.

So, that was our day. Hopefully, the various babies that we encountered will grow and live to have their own babies. It's a tough world out there in the wild and every species needs our help to survive and thrive.


  1. awwwwwwwww spring.....and babies........ and i have turtle envy