Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pros and Cons - 8/13/2016

Mike suggested the title of this post, because he was away at the Comic Con, and I am a Pro (his words!) when it comes to herping. Well, I don't really know about that second part.

Massachusetts has been experiencing some drought conditions this summer. We have barely had any rain; we've had thunder and lightning storms without rain. We're in need of a few days of soaking rain, badly.

These conditions have certainly affected our herping, as you have probably noticed in our recent posts. It's affected the animals, too.

I made an 11th hour decision to go look for pit vipers on Saturday. Ryan agreed to go with me, but I had to pick him up and drive because his girlfriend had his car that day. No problem.

We started off at a reservoir not far from where we suspect they may be found, thinking that some may have wandered over there in search of water. The only sign of herps at all were a couple of splashes of small frogs jumping into the water.

We wandered more and more, finally making our way to a hillside pond beneath some rocky ledges. We finally had some herps!


They really make the bullfrogs big here!

We navigated the rocky hill, and made our way over to a couple of spots that had potential, peeking into crevices with a flashlight. Sadly, the most memorable thing about the trek was when my foot slipped while standing on a rock, sending my feet out behind me while my abdomen slammed down on the rock. It hit just below my rib cage, so thankfully no ribs were cracked. I didn't even get much of a bruise there, yet my right knee became swollen and bruised later that day, and a day later a huge purple bruise appeared on my left inner thigh.

At some point, we decided to give up. I gave Ryan a ride home, and picked up some frozen mice he had ordered for us (and the cooler that he had had for over a year!) when he was getting a bulk order.
After I got those home and into the freezer, I decided to visit a local spot that we hadn't been to in over a month.

Did I say we were going through a drought? Holy shit, we are going through a drought.

There are a couple of bridges along the path, constructed over some wetlands. Now, I have seen these dry up a bit on one side, but I have never seen them dry up on both sides.

This is from the first bridge, on the right side:


This is from the left side of the first bridge:


Here's from the left side of the second bridge...thankfully there is still lots of lush greenery and a little bit of mud.


The right side of the second bridge...dry, dry, dry.


It gets even worse. At the end, where one parcel connects to a decent-sized park, there is a bridge that goes over a brook.

This is looking over the right hand side of this bridge, into the supposed brook.


And the left side, where there is at least some water.


Things were looking at little bit bleak at this point, but I kept my eyes peeled and flipped some rocks, knowing that there could be some snakes hiding out. It was really only about 75 out; it was a break in the heat wave we had been having.

At one stop along the brook, I saw a frog in the mud on the other side. I was thrilled to get this picture of a Northern Leopard Frog!


I made my way over to a familiar flat rock. Mike has lifted this rock before, and the last time he did, there were five water snakes under it! I wasn't sure if I would be able to lift it, but I put down my backpack and my camera and gave it a try. I saw some red and black bands underneath, so I grabbed it!

(Oh, yeah, I should note that I am nowhere near a spot that has pit vipers, so grabbing something under a rock is really NBD.)

I pulled out a decent-sized, most likely female, Northern Water Snake, who immediately musked me profusely. As I was taking pictures of her, a guy walking his dog stopped and made an exclamation. We got to talking; he wanted to know if this was my pet snake that I had taken out for a walk (!), and when I told him that it was a wild snake that I had just caught, he had a few more questions. He had an Irish accent, and hadn't seen very many snakes around there except for what he called "grass snakes" (most likely garters). Oh, yeah, and he was pretty good-looking, too.


So, I got to stand there with my hand covered in really foul-smelling snake musk and talk to a hot, tattooed Irish guy about snakes. I guess there could be worse things in the world.

She was pretty calm, and so I was able to let go of her tail and get a quick phone camera shot of her before she decided to take off into the bush.


I kept going on, observing the scary drought conditions.


I went down to the river, which was low but at least still had water. It was getting late in the day.




I decided to make my way back to the car, but first I wanted to see if the Leopard Frog was still there.
It was, and it had shifted position.


I also looked straight down and saw a Northern Green Frog in the mud.


Looking around some more, I noticed that it had a neighbor in the water.


I made my way to the car, ending my day herping without Mike. I never pull big numbers on my solo herping days while he is at the Comic Con. I haven't figure out if this means that I suck as a herper, or that the Comic Con is held at a time of year that is in general kind of shitty for herping (way hot).

But, I was really happy to see him that night, and I got us some Thai food and black and white cookies to celebrate.


  1. I wish I had been with you! Great write up, even about the hot guy you were talking with!

  2. i hope you feel better andrea