Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nature Fixes Everything. 6-26-2016

After the previous day's fun, we were pretty tired come Sunday morning. Breakfast at a diner sounded like a pretty darn good idea. So that is what we did. Until we got up, we weren't sure where we wanted to hike but settled on our Plymouth County nemesis, the State Forest. It can either be great or it can break your heart. We got there a bit after 9 AM and it was already pretty hot, but the pancakes were worth our slight delay.

We started around a cranberry bog that is often very good for amphibians. Since they have been at a minimum lately, we were happy to see some Bullfrogs right away.

This bog is also good for young turtles, who can hide from predators and still have plenty of food. Many Painted Turtles were on to us and skedaddled but this little guy had his spot and refused to give it up for anything.
I'm sorry, Duck House... this will get even turtlier.

A slightly larger guy feeling fabulous.

Our quest around this cranberry bog usually has us hoping for Hognose Snakes and today was no different. We even braved a trail that had stacks of bee boxes stacked up, buzzing happily as we slowly snuck past. All because we've seen a Hog there before. None today, but at the end of it, we flipped a wee Ringneck.
Just a little bit of snake under a whole lot of rock.

Another small bog Painter.

While walking along the edge of the bog, we had been noticing some sporadic floating shapes.It wasn't until we started seeing a lot of them that we realized they were deceased tadpoles. Nearly metamorphosed tadpoles, nearly full Green Frogs. It was heartbreaking.
We had seen plenty of Bullfrogs and Painted Turtles in there but the tadpoles had all succumbed... to what? Are they treating the bog with a new pesticide or fertilizer that affects only Green Frogs?

I have since emailed Dartmouth College of Agriculture, who supervise the cranberry bogs in Plymouth County, and asked what was up. They say they are doing nothing different than usual and offered up some possible causes. At any rate, it's a whole year's worth of Greens that we won't get to see.

Thankfully, the Painted Turtles and Bullfrogs weren't affected and were out in force.

Wait... what was that? A low, detuned banjo string. A Green Frog call. I had to sneak across a shaky board to get a better view but I finally found him, throat sac still puffy. A massive adult Green.
I'm glad I heard the call... he's so big and yellow-throated that by sight, I might have written him off as another Bull in the field.

Andrea was starting to feel a bit peaked by now. It was pretty hot and the sun was baking her a bit. She had awoken in the morning under the weather, too. We headed back to the car to drive to the next spot. This bubble-bearded Bull bid us bye-bye.

We went to the next area to explore but Andrea stayed in the car with the AC cranking. I got out to flip some debris and came up with a plump Fowler's Toad.
She joined me on the walk across the street from the parking area. Our goal was to find our favorite piece of tin, one that has become pretty reliable. We reached it, flipped it up and saw nothing. Neither of us did. Nothing was there. Imagine our surprise when a shoestring Garter darted out and disappeared into the grass. But... but... there was nothing there! Weird.

We got back into the cool car and headed for the next spot. Andrea was feeling better, if not great. This next trail was a good one for Hognoses as well. Well, we saw none but we saw a bunch of Fowler's Toads (which might explain why we see Hogs there...) Isn't that top one a stunner?

Next stop, a pond that has a good population of Northern Red-bellied Cooters. They are endangered up here and this disjunct population is a source of pride for Massachusetts herpers. (They used to be considered a separate subspecies from the Northern Red-bellies found from Southern New Jersey down to the top of North Carolina but they're the same thing.) Anyhoo, I just about shit a happy-brick when I saw this at the pond:
That's three big ol' Red-bells and two Painters! Check out just how fabulous that far left Red-bell is feeling...

While I was wrangling those photos, Andrea squealed... there was a hatchling Painter right below her.
Since I was down there anyway, I reached in and gently picked him up for a quick, humiliating photo session.
Pretty as a picture.

It's hard to make out here but when Andrea put him back into the water, he swam over to the stick and turned around and watched her. I think it was love.

Heading back to explore a different spot, I stumbled across a Garter Snake who had just eaten a meal.

Out at the tip of a quiet peninsula (that we were surprised to have to ourselves), there was a picnic table out in the water. It looked really inviting.
The water was cool and relaxing. We sat there for quite a while, enjoying the solitude, each other and the sunfish that came up to us, hoping for a toe-nibble.

When we got up to dry off and leave, this handsome fella escorted us out.

Back on the road, we saw a Racer speed across the pavement. We couldn't find it but the good thing is, he made it safely. We'd peeled some Racer jerky off the road earlier. He didn't wind up like that, at least.

Just a couple more spots to hit... like another pond, where Painted Turtles were basking... some in very unconventional positions.

This Bully let me get right up into his grille for this shot.

Andrea let out another squee. Tiny toads were up. And I mean tiny!
Although it's pretty impossible to tell at this stage, we're guessing these are American Toads. We rarely see Americans here but on Big Night back in March, that is all we saw. Fowler's didn't get up until weeks later. We're guessing that the tadpoles still in the water are the later-to-emerge Fowler's and these toadlets are Americanus. Of course, we might just be full of it, too.

One more spot... to flip a piece of carpet that has had Fowler's Toads under it before. Well, it did again.
This slumbering fattie was blowing himself up... what a plump sight!

The more we peeled the carpet back, the more toads hopped out... there were more than a dozen. This pic captures 6.
Some were big and some were smaller but they all appeared to be Fowler's. (The ones we took a close look at, anyway.)

So that was a pretty full day, full of wonderful sights. No, we never got our Hognose but that's fine. The idyllic sit-down in the pond had made us so happy and the animals were all beautiful. Really, nature is just so perfect. I wish everyone could experience the joy we feel when we're immersed in it.

Andrea is fine, by the way. Fully recovered. Nature fixed her.

1 comment:

  1. thank goodness she's fine...
    and yes, i have extreme turtle envy...and froggie and toadie envy

    i really need to do a turtle series i think
    and of course add to my froggies