Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hunker in the Bunker 8-7-2016

Again, we'd have to keep our hike shortish on this hot Sunday... more family obligations. It narrowed down our choices of places to go. We decided on a spot in Middlesex County where there are loads of ponds. Sure, the drought continues but we figured there'd have to be at least some turtles up. (Famous last words... we saw none the day before.) Plus, baby snake season is starting and this place landed us a dozen brand-new Nerodia a couple of years ago.

It was already super hot by the time we got there. The parking lot was kinda full, too; something we had never seen here before. We sprayed down and went in. Those little gnat bastards were all over, buzzing our heads and cameras and ears and... well, I guess they all were thirsty, too. To our surprise, there were tables set up along the trail, with volunteers out there teaching hikers about the flora and fauna of the refuge. This spot is dotted with World War 2 bunkers and much to our surprise, one of them was open. The volunteer gave us the history, then allowed us to walk around in it.

It was cool and reverby... just how I like my bunkers.

We saw no animals along the trail but that changed when we hit the first pond. It was lower than usual but still plenty wet. Our first herp sighting was a distant Painted Turtle on the other side.

Right at our feet was a content Bullfrog.

A closer log had a small Painter on it.
Check out his nails.

The pond-side grass held a few anuran surprises, like this Pickerel.

We continued along and got to the next pond, our favorite spot. Painted Turtles dotted the pond on most of the exposed basking spots.

A cute Bullfrog living the lily-pad stereotype.

A frog jumped up to me from the water... it was a Green Frog who hid in the grass.

This Greenie posed much nicer for me.

Not a decent shot by any means but it keeps with the unofficial theme of turtles and flowers.

Heading up the next path, we saw our first snake... a pretty Garter that was stretching out next to the path.

The next pond was pretty low. There were plenty of basking spots but a loud talking couple had just been through and we knew we wouldn't see anything up. This wee American Toad was hopping in the grass, though.

This small Painted Turtle (with flower) finally gave me a good photo. He stayed up in position even as I got fairly close.

Nearby, another Bullfrog/ lily-pad combo was happening. Note the little bit of tail left on this young amphibian.

We went up the hill to the turtle-nesting field, knowing full well that it was a few weeks too early for baby chelonians. But we had seen many baby Water Snakes here a few years ago, so we flipped and poked around in the hot sun. We saw nothing until Andrea spied a teeny shoelace motoring through the dirt. He went under a log and we procured him for a quick photo in Andrea's hat.
That there is a brand new Garter snakelet.

Heading back, that last pond had much more turtle action, or rather inaction. Here are some of the Painters we saw.
^ Check out the hind-leg yoga salute this little guy is doing!

There was lots of bird business as well. A few Tree Swallows were giving a hard time to a young Red-tailed Hawk and Belted Kingfishers (my 97th bird on the year) were chattering and swooping all over. This is the humiliated Red-tail.
Red-tailed Hawk #92 (upgrade)

We headed back and saw plenty more frogs and Painters catching some rays. This particular Bull was begging for a shot. Such a cutie.

Our last turtles of the day were these two Painters... which became three when I uploaded the picture at home.
Turtle surprise. Serendipicta.

The bunker had just closed up by the time we were passing by it again. I wanted to film a nice big reverb-filled burp but the lady wouldn't open it back up just for that. Oh well, the world's loss.

We hit the visitors center before heading out. I wanted to buy a scat-themed bandana but they were sold out. Shit! But the good news is, just outside, on the way to the car, Andrea spied an American Toad... our last animal of the day.

Not a day to thrill the trophy-herpers of the world but we enjoyed it immensely. Put us into the woods, near a pond, or just away from most humans and we're in our element, happy as a turtle on a log.


  1. 'scat-themed bandana but they were sold out. Shit!'
    hahahahahaha ok i lost it ....this made me laugh

  2. Funny how often herps and military history intersect in MA- I guess the scarce wide-open/out-of-the-way spaces appeal to both parties.

    How many of those god damn gnats flew into your eyes this weekend? I counted 6 and flushed a 7th that I hadn't noticed out hours later. I don't know if it's the drought, but they've *never* been this bad before.

    1. Oh man, they DESTROYED us! I guess our sweaty bodies and wtery eyes were fair game!

  3. !!!Las fotos son tan hermosas que parecen cuadros .Me siguen gustando mucho los sapos. todo es muy .muy lindo!! Un beso a todos de tu amiga argentina Martha.