Sunday, July 10, 2016

Yipes Stripes! 7-9-2016

If'n you don't know the reference (shame on you!) here is the musical number from Teenage Strangler (1964).

If you hate my writing, just go to the 37 second mark and listen to the song while you look at the pictures.

What a difference a week makes. From frying in the hot sun last week to cool and rainy this weekend. Still, we thought that if we could dodge the raindrops, we might be able to flip a few Garters that were taking the day off from doing snakey things. We got to our Essex County spot late, about 11 AM, and it had just stopped raining. We were hoping for a few flipped snakes and dare we say... salamanders?

It was cool in the woods... I should have had my sweatshirt on. It didn't take long for Andrea to prove our theory correct... we would flip some snakes.

I followed suit.
Yes, it was going to be a very good day for snakes.

Andrea found this wee one who wouldn't pose. It almost went into her knitting bag and came home with us to fatten up.
It was still dry under the rocks and logs for the most part. Salamanders would not be up this day.

We went up to a powerline cut, knowing it was a good bet. It was a bit warmer up there, too, though the sun would not come out at all. I had no sooner said that "perhaps some snakes will be up and about up here..." than a good sized female Garter was spotted on the crawl.

This cut is beautifully rock-strewn and we did our best with the low hanging fruit. I gave a fist-pump when we flipped this bright Ribbon, who had a lump on its neck.

The same mound of rocks got us this musky Garter.
It should be noted that we were musked badly every time we picked up a snake. They were armed and deadly.

A half buried tarp in an open field. On an overcast cool day. Heaven. As I peeled it back, more slim bodies squiggled away. We gathered as much of a bouquet as we could. Speaking of musk...
The small end of the tarp was lifted and we saw this little guy, who stayed still for a photo.

Walking along the trail, Andrea pointed out a Garter crossing the path... when we got up to him, he posed like this.

We had gone further in this direction in the cut than ever before and were rewarded with this view.
Since the trail ended for a bit (the water engulfed the path), this was as good of a spot to turn around as any.

Admittedly, we both got pretty distracted on the way back to explore the other end of the cut. Raspberries were plentiful, ripe and in easy reach. We both ate enough to keep us regular for weeks. It was timely, too, as I was having some low-blood sugar dizziness earlier. The berries set me right.

Getting back to herping, we flipped a couple more Garters.

This big bluie was crawling along in the open. I suspect we had disturbed her somewhere... she probably wouldn't have been out in this condition.

This is how in-a-shed snakes relax... coiled under a rock.

This larger female took umbrage at my flipping her roof.
I actually got a little nip from her as I moved her to replace the rock.

Heading back to the pond area, we heard some ghastly sounds. Blue Jays were screaming, Great Blue Herons were grunting and this Hawk was shrieking in a real horror movie tone.
That, of course, upset everything in the vicinity, including the nesting Herons. There is a large GBH rookery in the trees above this pond.

Down in the pond, we started seeing our first non-Thamnophis herps of the day... Bullfrog noggins were plentiful.

Another pond-side on the move Garter.
Careful out there, bro.

A few Bulls were hanging out outside of the water, drying off their duckweed coats.

A rock that has become a bit of an Old Reliable over the years produced another stripey coil.

We made it to our turn around spot out on the main pond. It was windy and much cooler already, so we turned back. On the way back, on the shore of the Heron/ Bullfrog pond (which had become much quieter since the Hawk departed), Andrea said, "that is one fat Water Snake." I looked. It was true.
At only about 3 feet long, she might well be the fattest Northern Water Snake I have ever seen. There is going to be a lot of young Nerodia crawling around this place soon. She is gonna POP!

Despite the coolness and the wind, some Garters were still up, trying to thermoregulate. This skinny mini was shielded by rocks next to the pond, perhaps dreaming that it will eventually get big enough to fit that large shed skin nearby.
Avoid that knot of fishing line and you'll do OK.

Last snake was a bright white striped Garter just off the pathway to the car.

So, let's recap. 21 Garters. A Ribbon. A massive Water Snake. The sun never even threatened to come out and the temps never got above 65°. This used to be the kind of day we wouldn't bother coming out. I'm glad we did.

I wish we could flip turtles.


  1. sorry mr mike........ the music was meh for me
    but snakeies were very nice....
    i like the froggies coat...........

  2. W👹W!! Were you folks vacationing on Snake Island?!.... I'd hafta walk across the Planet a few times to fins this many!! Awesome!!