Sunday, September 18, 2016

Live! Live, My Snapling! 9-11-2016

Knowing that baby turtles and snakes could still be found, we chose another spot for this Sunday that we had been at fairly recently. Going by past experiences, we headed to a spot deep in Norfolk County, and we were hoping for babies. The weather was supposed to be decent, a little cloudy and warm. We were shocked to see this when we were on the highway, almost to our destination.
And it absolutely pissed down for a while, right through the town... until we got to the Park. A ranger told us later that not a drop fell there. Too bad, because this place is still very dry.

Our early flips were very successful. Before even hitting the trail proper, we flipped this wee shoestring Garter, hiding under a clump of mowed grass.

Nearby was this large, shiny Ringneck. We'd never seen one in this particular area before.

Down by the (very low) pond, we poked around and didn't see much... until my eye caught this:
I looked up to the sky to see if it was reflecting onto the frog's back... nope- still cloudy. It looks like we'd just encountered a blue Green Frog, a jewel that we had sought for many years.
Obviously, my pictures do it no justice but this frog absolutely made my year... an unforgettable sight. He hopped into the drink before I could get any more shots.

We had to catch our breath. Not an easy thing to do when we followed it up with this stunning green Bull Frog.

In the distance, on a very popular perch, we saw but two Painted Turtles basking. No sun, so the joke was on them.

We got up to a spot that we know is a turtle nesting area. We have seen mother's going to nest, seen predated nests and even, on occasion, have seen baby turtles making their way to the water. We looked around the pebbles and rocks in the path to make sure none had any legs. No babies seemed to be on the prowl this time.

We went up a side path, to flip for salamanders (unlikely on this dry day) and maybe some more Ringnecks. I got to some stones that have produced both in the past when Andrea gasped and said "look"... there, among the stones, obviously sidetracked a bit, was a Snapper baby... then another.
Panda Snaplings!

Andrea hauled them down to the pond which was still a good 50 yards away.

Why do we care so much and try to help? This is typical of most turtle nests we encounter...
Dug up and eaten. Raccoons, skunks... lots of things like to eat turtle eggs. And baby turtles. These two just got a helping hand.

Andrea had found some successful nest holes and was digging through them to make sure there were no stragglers. While she was doing that, I saw my first Mantis on the year.

We walked through the grass, back towards the main trail and Andrea saw this. I had stepped right over him.
Egg tooth still visible...
and yolk on the plastron.

We took him to the water. He looked at it...
Walked up to it...
and dove in.
After getting the feel of things, he came up for a breath.
Then he dove into the greenery around the rock and nibbled his first food. Another Snapling was on the other side of the rock.
We're not sure if it was one of "ours" or one who had walked there on his own.

Andrea was up scouring the grass for more surprise hatchlings. I heard a family coming down the main path so I suggested they watch their step... hatchlings were afoot. The boy of the family said, "there's one right there." Um... yup. He was right!
The little guy was crossing the path right next to me. He looks like Mr. Burns.

A large toad with a white belly was hopping by.
I'd never seen a Fowler's here before. This is one of those cases where a white belly is not a good diagnostic for a toad. This one, with the white belly, is clearly an American Toad, who usually have speckled bellies. But not always. But the cranial crest/ partoid gland and the single warts per spot bear out its American-ness.
There's no real need to show the white belly except for the fact that he looks so damn hilarious in this shot... and the last Snapling was still in-hand, too.

We put the last Snapling into the pond and it swam around, staying mostly at the top of the water. When a few medium sized Sunfish swam near him, he dropped to the bottom and didn't move. I'd never witnessed that before. Pretty cool observation.

Still at the same place (we obviously spent a lot of time watching the turtles), this beautiful Pickerel was present.
More useless field diagnostics... Pickerels aren't supposed to have green on them, but those spots look like the hills of Ireland. I like the brown overlays on some of them.

This slim Garter Snake was the last animal we saw in this spot.

That was it for a little while, until we saw a shoestring Garter move into the brush. How it could move at all is beyond me. That's one full snakelet.

This American Toad seemed to think that it had signed up for a boudoir photo session.

The sun had finally come out and in the distance, we could see a stack of Painted Turtles.
I'd sure like to see more.

Andrea spied this sneaky Garter along the path.
Beautiful olive...

You say you want turtles? YOU SAY YOU WANT TURTLES? Well... that's ... just... what... you're... gonna... GET!
The sun brings out the Paint.

Andrea inspecting the muddy edge of the formerly-known-as-pond.

After the previous day's 13 attempts to get a decent Peeper shot, I was very happy to get this in my one try.
Yes, I pleaded aloud with the frog to not jump.

The hike was winding down. Over by where the blue Green Frog had been earlier, this brand new to land Bullfrog was hangin' tough.

The brush next to a busy path held a toady treasure for those who looked closely. (Us)

Our last animal of the day was this corpulent Pickerel Frog, the Vic Diaz of anurans.

So, at 9 species, we consider the day a smashing success. Our target was baby turtles, which we got. A few baby snakes, some frogs (one very special one) and making a lot of interesting observations in the field. For us, this is heaven.

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