Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Last Trip of September. 9-25-2016

The sudden plummet into Fall was pretty jarring. In the 80s on Friday, not above the Mid-60s since. Still, it was going to be sunny, so we decided to go for it while we still can. Still tired out from Saturday, we chose a close, reliable spot in Norfolk County to spend our Sunday. But would anything be up? It was barely scraping 60° when we arrived there at a little before 11 AM. Wearing hooded sweatshirts over T-shirts, we thought we'd be fine but it was cold. Between that and a very noisy family who were letting their shit-assed kids throw big rocks into the (incredibly low) pond, I got pretty cranky. Enough where Andrea had to scold me. And ask if I wanted to go home.

I sulked for a while and we didn't see anything for the first third of the hike. Finally, we saw a patch of sun that was occupied by a pair of slim, bright Garters.
That helped.

Another thing that helped was this surprise. A thick, heavy rock in a spot where we had never seen anything... I flipped it, hoping for a salamander, and this was there.
A baby Milk Snake is always a great sight. We moved him to replace the rock. His belly was cold.
He had a sliver poking up under a scale (visible on the top pic) that I popped out, leaving a clean, pink spot on him. I think he'll be fine.

The shady woods were pretty cool but there was a little moisture under some of the logs. This was good for a couple of Redbacks; the top one, a pretty burgundy color.

It was still tough to see many animals, though. Of course, this time of year, we always hope for the return of salamanders but the dryness has kept the numbers low. Seeing a few Redbacks is a good start. Up by the hobo camp, we saw this Eft, too.

Walking down the far path, we flipped mostly logs, hoping for Ambystoma. I was a few feet ahead of Andrea when she called out with her hand held aloft. I saw her hand and fingers but nothing in them... this is why.
She had flipped this wee Ringneck under a log and only seen the tail. She thought it was a salamander tail at first.
Two baby snakes on the day!

We turned to go down to our suspected Marbled area... just in case. Early on that path, Andrea did it again... she flipped a small (this year) Spotted Salamander.
Ambystoma score!

We scoured the Marbled area, hoping to see any sign of their existence. I flipped plenty of rocks in a spot that is normally pretty watery, but it was merely... moist... this day. Good enough for this shoestring Garter.

Yeah, he was small... but this one that Andrea found on the crawl was even smaller.

Another newly named Redback morph... named by me... Gold-dust Redback.

We searched Ringneck Hill pretty thoroughly, too. Believe it or not, we found an even smaller baby Garter there.

From there on out, though, it was pretty cold and we didn't see anything. I had failed to find a Two-lined Salamander at a pretty good spot, because it was dry as a bone. As we entered the final stretch, we had one last chance for herps... a dribbling spring fed stream that sometimes has Two-lines. We haven't seen a snake on this last mile of hike in years.

That's why, when we reached the stream, I was extremely surprised to see that I wasn't the only one looking for salamanders in the water.
This super-beautiful Garter was ice cold, but unfazed.
After taking her picture, we put her down and she slid right back into the icy water to start poking around for some grub.
We let her be.

About 10 feet away from her, I flipped a rock, still searching for salamanders, and this Pickerel was sitting there.
He would have been a perfect size for the Garter, but I didn't turn him in.

So that was it, quick, easy and successful. After that rocky start (literally), it was good to get to calm down, see some animals and enjoy each other's company and the joys that nature has to offer. But I hope that family (which actually came around by us again, screaming... those brats had stamina!) learns that nature is a privilege, not a fucking playground to destroy.


  1. !Cuantas aventuras y cuántos deseos de saber!!!muchachos , los felicito y me alegra que tengan mucha salud para estos trotes ,!Todo es hermoso , pero a mi me gustan las Salamandras!!jaja!!!Un beso Martha

    1. Muchas gracias, Martha! Su ojo artístico aprecia la belleza de la naturaleza!

      Besos... Mike