Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Year of Living Froglessly 4-15-2016

Andrea had a teeth cleaning, I have Fridays off. That meant a free herping day once she was out of the dentist's office. We wanted to begin our four day herping weekend at the place we were at 3 years ago to the day. We were at our favorite Norfolk County pond when the Boston Marathon was struck by bombs. The city has certainly changed since that day.

We got to our destination at about noon. I realized as we hit the path that I had forgotten my camera. Took me long enough. I cursed myself a lot. All of the upcoming pictures were taken by Andrea. It was warm and sunny, but the wind was wicked. It kept the overall temps in the low to mid-50s. Patches of sun, however, were warm so we weren't surprised to see a Garter stretching out in the sun.

As Andrea moved in for a better angle, she noticed another slim Garter. The first one scooted away and almost ran over the second one.
We observed them for a while and watched the first one slip right into an unseen hole in the ground.

Happily, we moved along and soon hit a vernal that we were interested in taking a look at. As expected, Spotted Salamander and Wood Frog eggs were there.

A surprise visitor was also present at the pond, perhaps looking for frogs (like we were).
A small frog did jump in but neither me, Andrea nor the Garter saw it.

Is 2016 going to be another tough frog year? What's a guy gotta do to see some frogs? The dam area was frogless but then the wind was cold and howling. Except for a few brave birds, very little wildlife was out in the open.

Back in the wooded areas, we started flipping some Redbacks. In fact, we saw dozens on the rest of the trip. Here are a few:

After the halfway point, we peeked in at a secluded part of the pond. There were some turtles up. Since I had forgotten my 60X zoom camera, it was pointless to try to shoot them. They plopped in as I once again cursed myself.

Once we were on the far side of the pond, things picked up again. This hunchbacked Garter was speeding along.
The crick in his spine did not slow him down in the least.

We explored the hobo camp, a spot that we have decided looks great for snakes though it has never turned any up. Until today. An unlikely rock that I had flipped to see if it hid any salamanders was instead hiding a tiny, stretchy Garter body.
Unbelievably cute. This is the closest I have come in a long time to really wanting to bring a find home. This was his first Spring thaw and the first Garter shoestring we had encountered on the year. He stole my heart.

In those temps, I wasn't expecting to actually flip any snakes so that was a treat. Another treat was our first Ringneck of the year, also flipped!
Seeing a fossorial snake opened up a lot of new possibilities on the year. This iridescent beauty was shy at first but speedy (and musky) when given the opportunity.

We decided that this day was way better than if we had been at work. Or at home. Or just about anywhere else.

Our search for frogs was failing, however. The streams hadn't turned up anything, nor had the pond's edges. We took an extra trail over to a vernal to look for Ambystoma and frogs but came up empty. Later on, we did see another Garter, however. She saw us too and almost escaped without a picture! I had to make one of those Matty-Cub-Cub dives but I got her. I also slammed my knee on a rock, which swelled up quickly. OWWW!
I thought she was deserving of receiving my first ever boop.

It took a while but we finally saw a Leadback.

Almost back to the car, we got to a spot where fresh water dribbles out of a tap in the hill. I filled my water bottle up and decided to see if we could find some Two-Lined Salamanders in the stream into which the dribble it ran. One rock. One flip... lots of action.
Two beautiful Two-lines and our first Pickerel Frog on the year. He answered our question, at least concerning Pickerels... some frogs are still hibernating. Here's a second look at this scrawny, sleepy palustris.
We apologized to him and let the amphibious trio get back to their rock.

I've gotta say, for a bonus herping day, we were pretty damn pleased. Two FOYs and plenty of cute salamanders and snakes. A sore knee and the scars of self-loathing aside, we left the place dirty and sore, always the sign of a good day in the field. Three more days remained to our mini-vacation... would we make it out all three days? What would we see?

Stay tuned.


  1. !Cuidate la rodilla!!!Natura se está vengando por husmear en sus secretos , jaja!!! Un beso para todos Martha

    1. Jaja ... mi rodilla está curada! Que ni siquiera se volvió morado! ¡Estoy decepcionado!

  2. Wow, don't ever forget your camera again...those pictures suck! ;)