Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Something New 7-2-2016

Our Saturday plans were to go to Cape Cod in hopes of seeing some Diamondback Terrapins coming up to nest. It is second clutch time and the gals should be moving. So, we got up early (though later than planned) and headed for the Cape. It was about 8:15. By the time we got to Rt. 3, we realized that it was a horrible idea. Bumper to bumper traffic. One road to Cape Cod, 4th of July Weekend. What was I thinking? I told Andrea that I'd rather just pull off and herp some place locally than sit in traffic for 3 1/2 hours. So, we hit the next exit and thought it over. It turns out, we were near a spot that our friend Kurt had invited us to before, but we'd never been able to meet up. We looked it up, found the way, and gave Kurt a message to see if he could come meet us.

It took some time, but we found a parking place and headed in. It looked great... plenty of water on both sides of the path, rocky hills... not bad. Our first two animals were Fowler's Toads. They might well be our first Fowler's in Norfolk County. Off to a good start.

OK, bear with me because the pictures are bad... this was WAY on the other side of the pond, beyond camera range, but it was so amusing that I'm going to post it here in full.

Here is a nice stack of turtles... a Slider on the far left and a slew of Painters, all enjoying the morning sun.
But what is that poking up in the middle of the picture?

A small Snapper made his way up.
He proceded to bulldoze his way through Painted Turtles. Literally. Yes, he is getting his head under that Painter to flip him off of the log.
Why not just crawl over the next two?
He reached the last Painter. It think it knew what was coming. Three cheers for the one Painter on the left who didn't give in.
That little Snapper was an asshole.

While I was watching that, Andrea saw a Pickerel noggin.

Andrea reacts to finding 5 species in such a short time.

Considering our trek to the Cape was to look for turtles, this place was more than making our decision to get out of traffic worthwhile. A couple more Painters.

Slider/ Painter Combo Rock © 

Two Painters masquerading as Mud Turtles.

We got to another pond-side inlet and I saw a small shell heading into a cavern under a rock on shore. Knowing what it was, I went down and fished around under the rock. We finally got our first Musk Turtle on the year.
Not much of a Stinkpot, really, as I put my nose right up to it and inhaled deeply and lived to tell about it. Our 4th turtle species on the day.

We headed over to a dam area that looked great for Water Snakes. In fact, we knew it was... Kurt had told us so. Speak of the devil, here he comes now. Kurt was able to join us and we walked along, herping, talking and he told us all about this place. It has been his main stomping ground since childhood. It was rapidly becoming a favorite with us, too. This new spot was still turtle-centric. Here's a Slider feeling fabulous.

A decent sized Snapper and a small Painted.
A Black-backed gull soon joined them.

Luckily, Kurt had showed up because we wouldn't have know which route to take at the end of the dam. He led us up a trail and we stopped at a small water crossing. He said there's always a Water Snake in this area. He was right.
Gorgeous little Nerodia.

Heading back to the dam, we spied some Racer coils in the brush.

It was this feisty, bitey specimen.
Kurt recognised this individual due to the scar on the tail... he had seen it the week before about a half-mile away. Interesting.

That squeeing you hear is Andrea finding a tiny toad.

Back out at the dam area, we walked along an embankment wall where Kurt had seen some Racers recently. Sure enough, looking down from the wall and into the water, we saw a long, smooth scaled black body undulating through the trickle. We both stepped down into the muck to try to corral it, but it had disappeared. Kurt started rooting around behind himself at the base of the wall. Hey... how did the Racer get back there? He pulled out a black snake... but it wasn't the Racer!
This was a jet-black Nerodia and a stunning example of the species. It was dry, too, so the wet Racer watched us from a distance. Since I had my Nerodia T-shirt on, it seemed like a good photo-op.
We were all in love with this snake. Here, Andrea displays the interesting belly pattern.

The peanut gallery applauded Kurt's find from the water.

We worked our way back to the parking area and headed to a different spot. It had become quite hot by now and my impending sunburn was feeling pretty obvious. We parked and walked back up the (fairly busy) road to a trail-head. Along the way, five Painters turned into three, but the remaing turtles posed beautifully for me.

We explored rock along the water's edge and when we got to a spillway, I saw a Racer dart in to the brush. Kurt seemed interested; in all of his years here, he'd never seen one at this spot. I stepped down on to the rocks to look into the brush from another angle. I saw about 4 inches of black tail. I grabbed but got nothing but sticks and grass. Andrea called out "here it comes" and it shot right past her. Kurt made a lightning fast grab and came up with the sleek speedster.
Yes, it bit the hole in his jeans, too.

Here is my attempt at a nature shot of this guy.
Racers in 85° temps will beat my camera's shutter every time.

This had been an amazing trip. Screw you, Cape traffic! We ended up where we had started... with another Fowler's Toad.
I love this guy's stance.

New place turned out to be a lot of fun. We hadn't done a proper hike with Kurt in a couple of years, either, so win-win. I think he enjoyed sharing stories of his main herping spot with us and we sure enjoyed seeing the place. Many thanks, Kurt.

Cape plans were changed to Monday.

1 comment:

  1. yous went to turtle heaven......sniff
    and here not one turtle for me to paint ...........
    even the salamanders have deserted me
    i has envy