Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Search and DO NOT Destroy 6-11-2016

Plans kept getting juggled for our Saturday excursion but we finally settled on hitting a Bristol County spot. One reason for the juggling was the schizophrenic weather forecasts. One place said this, one said that... it was confusing. We figured that mid-70s and some clouds worked well for our chosen spot. After a later than planned start, we got to our destination by about 10:30 AM. Having listened to the Dead Boys and the Stooges on the drive down, it was with "Search and Destroy" in our heads that we hit the trails.

This particular place has become more filled up with humanity over the last year due to gates opening, but it still has plenty of animals. My board line was more or less in place and it was there that we scored first... a small, starting to lose his pattern Racer.
Andrea made a nice grab under a picnic table I lifted.
It's not a size we see much so this guy was very welcome.
An early Racer makes the whole day a win, in our book.

A "soon" Fowler's Toad.

We next saw a stealthy Garter...
She nipped me when I brought her out for a better photo. I had it coming.

This Redback was trying to form a question mark but couldn't quite figure out how.


OK, finally an out and about Fowler's.

Andrea flipped a couple of embracing Wolf Spider moms.

We had been hoping to see some Musk Turtles along this pond area as we haven't seen them yet this year, but we didn't. The path between the ponds still had some water in it and plenty of life.
What's that up against the rock? Ah, looks like a metamorhing Green. (Way too small to be a Bull.)
There were a few in there among the Toad-poles.

An interesting specimen here... a young Bullfrog missing one eye.
Not even the protruding bump... just a small indent where his eye socket is. Looks like he became a cyclops back in the tadpole stage... or earlier.

Here is a regular two-eyed one.

There were plenty of non-herp sightings as well. A Swallowtail...
and a family of Mute Swans.
Being a swan is serious business.

The "partly cloudy" had become more of a "threatening with rain" as the minutes clicked away and we still hadn't seen a turtle. I stealthily slunk down towards the water and nabbed this Painter shot just before he slid into the drink. Note the caterpillar poop on his shell.

Then it started to rain. We were without raincoats or bags for the cameras so we skipped a few trails and stayed in the woods. We snuck out to the water a few times where the more tenacious Painted Turtles were still up.

Further up, we saw a Green hiding in the reeds next to a stream.

Two very different toads, both Fowler's.

On our way back to the parking lot, this baby bird thrust out its (bare) chest and showed us who was boss.

Another odd sight was the last thing we saw here... a Painted Turtle nesting on the side of a cranberry bog. Not only will it not get great sun but it will fill with water. Hopefully, there will be time for nature to take its course.

We went for Mandarin Buffet and ate like pigs, for we had formulated a plan. We weren't too far from a spot where we could see Gray Tree Frogs and, since it was raining, they would be out. They were another need-it on the year. But first, we wanted to swing by another local place, just inside Plymouth County, to poke around the water with our friend Sārah and her boyfriend Charles. We had never met Sārah in person and were happy to discover that she was just as charming in person as she is online. Charles is also very nice and it was he that spotted this small Water Snake poking his noggin through a hole at water level, hiding behind a streaming dribble.
We all talked and poked around for a while, then Andrea and I headed East and got to our spot at dusk. By the way, it was no longer raining. *sigh*

We headed first to a flipping spot to try our luck in the waning light. We got a surprised Fowler's.
Eh, it was time he was getting up anyway.

We walked a path trying to find a particular piece of tin that lays in a grassy area next to it. It was fully dark by the time we found it but it was worth it.
Snoozy, sleeping shoestring Garter.

So, we started cruising but the dry roads were empty. We rolled down our windows and heard Whippoorwills, Peepers and yes, our Gray Tree Frogs, but no amphibians were in the road. We pulled off and walked around a (drying up) pond that is surrounded by small, gnarled trees. (Teá knows where I'm talking about- she showed it to me.) I could hear a few Gray's calling but when the headlamp got too close, they would stop. I zeroed in on one... I approached and turned off my light. Standing in the dark, waiting for a sound, I finally figured out which tree sounded likely to be the one the frog was in. Miraculously (and after about 15 solid minutes of standing in the dark), I saw this guy.
Finally! The first-of-year Gray Tree Frog really made us work for it. We were done. Mission accomplished. We hit the road to head home. We'd been out for nearly 12 hours.

There were a few things in the road on the way out. This gorgeous little Fowler's was moved to safety, after I showed him to Andrea in the car.

Next, I pulled over for a toad. Only, when I got closer, I saw that it was a Gray.
After all that work we did on the first one!!

The next was a Wood Frog... except it was another Gray.

The next Wood Frog was a genuine Wood Frog, our 10th species on the day.

The last herp sighting of the night was...

A Gray.
OK, we have our first, second, third and fourth Grays on the year. And without rain.

We got home at about 11:30. That was a full day of herping. It was lovely to meet Charles and Sārah. We hope to hitch up with them again soon. Plans were made.

Despite the tremendous numbers we pulled in Pennsylvania the week before, it still feels great to hit double-digit species up here in the frozen North.

1 comment:

  1. may all your days out herping be full of all sorts of critters