Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stream Salamanderin' Without the Stream. 7-24-2016

The heatwave continued. We thought about going to Green Snake Place early on Sunday but I let Andrea sleep in. It was already too hot for snakes by the time we left the house, which was roughly 9:30 AM. But we had a plan to herp and  beat the heat... stream salamanderin'! Ah yes, stepping into the cool streams and looking around the edges and under rocks. Would we see Duskies? Two-lines? Springs, even? Since it was later than planned, we only went as far as Worcester County. Springs are in the database there, though we've not yet seen one ourselves, and we have a great spot for the other two species. Perhaps all three are there.

When we got there, it looked like we were shit out of luck. The stream was dry. The cascades weren't cascading.

What to do? I mean, it was super shady and cool, so we poked around. It turns out that in some of the stream's deeper spots, it was still damp under the rocks. We flipped a lot of worms and slugs and, eventually, a couple of Dookies were found.
First Dooks we'd seen in a while. We were pleased.

A couple of Two-lines were flipped as well but they were speedier and we got no pictures.

It seems we weren't the only ones hunting the dry stream-bed.
This Garter is the first snake we have ever seen in this spot (though, we usually come during the cold months, to be fair). With all of the worms we had flipped, we offered it one and it took it!
He did spit it out at one point when I pulled a piece of wood away that he was about to ingest, but we moved away and left him alone and I went back a minute later to see him crawling away with a belly bump. Nom nom nom.

We finally got a shot of a Two-line and a sexy, bright one, at that.

A couple more Dookies, the second of which I took up to place on some moss so Andrea could see it... she was tiring rapidly due to over-exertion all weekend and the soaring temps.

We managed to get the camera on a couple more Two-lines. Check out the red stripe going down the tail of the first guy. I've never seen that before.

It was pointless to climb the big hill to check the cascading stream at various points... there was no stream. Instead, we walked across the street where there is a large, quiet pond. We have seen a few animals there before. It was much warmer on that side of the street and it wasn't as shaded as the "stream". It wasn't a bust, though. At the edge of the pond, we flipped a few stones and one of them had this tiny Pickerel Frog under it.
It couldn't have been more than an inch. Welcome to the world, buddy.

Another spot had this young Bullfrog sitting on the edge. Note that he still has a bit of tail.

We went to the furthest part of the pond (not very far, really) before it becomes private property. There was a little inlet that was thick with mud. I walked out a fallen tree for the best vantage point. There, I saw a tiny shell about 4 feet out, sitting in the mud. Hmm... one step in would give me another up-to-the-knee mud bath. Laying down on the tree, with a net and full extension, I netted this guy to show to Andrea, who needed a pick-me-up.
After squeeing and photos, Andrea put the little niblet back into the mud and we hoped we didn't spook him too much.

On the way back out, a slightly rejuvenated Andrea spotted two Bullfrogs.

We had one more spot that I wanted to hit, some woods down the road a bit that has a nice, clean, mossy stream running through it. Last chance for Springs.

In the parking area, I flipped a couple of Efts, the last animal we expected to see.
You just never know.

The stream here was also dry and you know what? We were done. We were hungry and hot and Andrea needed a nap. (Oh, how the roles were reversed.) But we had made it out and seen some animals, and even had a few surprises. We also now have written these two streams off as potential Spring habitat. The fact that they completely dried up pretty much precludes the species. The search for Worcester County Springs shall go on.

When we got home, Andrea took a 3 hour nap while I took a bath and called my mom. That, my friends, is complete role reversal!


  1. Was typing this reply before I read your last paragraph, but yep- complete dryness in summer usually = no gyros.
    This post further illustrates that We Need Some Rain. I think even the snakes are feeling it at this point...