Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spring-time for Gyro 5-28-2016

It was going to be a hot Saturday. Like 95°F hot. Stream salamandering sounded like the best idea ever. We were going to be in Western MA for a quick peek into the MA Sheep and Wool Fest and, as is our custom, we would hit the nearby State Forest. Crystal, cool waters filled with salamanders. Including Springs, which would be our main target.

The Wool Fest was lovely, as always. Andrea got up close and personal with a Templar Sheep.

After, we headed towards the State Forest but, as is our custom again, we stopped at a creamery on the way for ice cream. While there, we flipped stones behind the place. We once found the ever-elusive Massachusetts Redbellied Snake there. Not this time. But the ice cream was great.

When we got to the forest, we decided to hit the "Haunted Campsite" first to see if anything was retreating from the heat inside the wreckage. When we got there, we saw that... the wreckage was gone. They had demolished the building and cleared everything away. Still, there was some good flipping to be done with the residue.
This post from last year has "before" shots and a link to the history of the place.

We made our way down to the hot spot.... the place we wanted to start our stream searching. It was hot for sure and it took a while to find any animals. A cool spot in a wooded area finally got us started with a couple of Redbacks.

Heading closer to the water, we flipped a respectable sized American Toad who was hanging out in the wall.

Andrea saw this similar sized one hopping through the brush.

The Springtime mating of the toads is an amazing explosion of noise; a frenzy of amphibians. We were lucky enough to see it one year. Looks like we missed the 2016 orgy but strands of toad eggs were everywhere in the shallows of the river.

Speaking of explosions, tiny toadpoles were bursting out of some of the eggs right in front of our eyes!

This small Two-lined Salamander larvae was unimpressed.

We crossed the river (which was pretty low) to get to some quieter, shady spots. We wanted to find some Spring Salamanders, which are incredibly tough in this state.

We flipped a rock that had plenty of movement under it. As the silt cleared, we had an adult Two-lined and a Spring larvae.
Off to a good start.

Andrea flipped a stream-side rock and got us another Two-lined (who was quite shy) and an erythrystic Redback, a morph that is quite common in this spot. We hadn't been counting on seeing any because of the heat, so this was a real treat.

Beautiful Two-lined Salamanders are easy to see here...

I mean, just look at this habitat... such perfection.

As I was walking along the edge of the stream, a bright Eft was truckin' along like nobody's business. He would not hold still for a decent shot, just barreling through the rocks with eft-like abandon. Finally, he stopped for a breath.

Whereas that first Spring larvae had left me with some ID doubts, the next one was pretty obvious. This guy is a bit older and is a beauty.

But there's nothing like the thrill of flipping a streamside rock and having a large, pink salamander dart out. This Spring was over 6" long and as pretty as they come.
When he returned to the water, he snuggled up with a Slimy Sculpin.
(^ Best. Picture. Ever... courtesy of Andrea)

Since we were on a roll, we flipped another (somewhat smaller) adult Spring!
Four Gyros... no easy feat in Massachusetts.

Andrea then flipped our first Dookie. Finally! Four Springs before our first Desmog.

It was right around here that I heard a splash and a swear. Andrea lost her footing and went into the drink. Camera... wet. (Still not working) Bruised hand and elbow. Needless to say, she was pretty pissed.

I tried to sooth her anger with a small Garter who was digesting a meal.

Andrea was upstream a bit, soggy but undaunted, when she called "newt"! I made my way over to her and scared up a Pickerel Frog.

I got there before the post-Eft Eastern Newt had decided to move on.
Here's another shot of him being swarmed by Blacknose Dace.
Earlier, we had noticed the Dace munching on toad eggs, or maybe even freshly hatched tadpoles. Everybody eats.

Hey look... here's another Pickerel!

Going back to the car, we looked off the bridge and saw tons of trout. These Brook Trout were there by the dozens, swimming against the current. Spawning? I don't know... I thought that was in the fall. But there were 4 or 5 pockets , thick with fish.
Brook Trout
I'll bet that in the 7 years I have been keeping records here, this is my first 3 fish species blog post.

Heading back up to the road from the fish photo session, I flipped a couple more Dookies.

Soaked, achey and thirsty, we headed out. We went back to the ice cream place for drinks and bathrooms... and flipping. No Redbelly but I managed a cranky little Garter shoestring who is in a shed.

So that was a pretty successful day, I'd say. We also gave a half-hearted attempt at a possible Wood Turtle area but came up turtle-less. Still, we had a great day despite the spills and loss of camera. Our main target was found and we stayed cool in the 96° (!) weather. No complaints here.


  1. maybe try the rice trick with the camera?
    how is andrea today? *probably more bruises coming out,....i know it takes me a few days after a fall*
    and now i'm going to read about that haunted camp site... cause those beams look huge and old

  2. La salamandra me produce ternura ,con sus pequeñas manitos todo es muy bello cariños Martha