Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Box Social on Cape Cod. 10-8-2016

The season is almost upon us... sea turtles will be stranding any time now. On Saturday, the 8th, we headed down to the Cape for this year's orientation and sign-up to help the stranded turtles this winter. We left a bit early in hopes of getting some time to look for Box Turtles before the program began. Thanks to traffic, we got there about 40 minutes before show-time. Not a lot of time to look for something that might have already turned in for the year. It was about 70° and sunny.

Undaunted, we hit the woods and poked around. We saw some empty forms, which was encouraging. It wasn't long before Andrea saw this...
Umm... you've got a little something on your face...

We were a bit surprised to see one at all, much less one eating. Andrea immediately called our friend Tim, the Box Turtle Guru. She asked if we should bring it in for measurements and weighing and he said yes. She waited until the turtle was finished with lunch and started to walk away, then she grabbed her and took her to the on premises lab. Tim had mentioned something interesting... if it is eating, that means it will be about 2 weeks before it will be looking to brumate.

While she was doing that, I took a walk through the wooded area. While doing so, I saw three more Box Turtles.
Hmmm... should I bring them all to the lab? Do they want them? I looked at my watch and saw that is was almost 2 PM... time for the program. I made my way up through the woods and went to the building, getting there a bit late. Andrea whispered that yes, they would want them all for stats. Hopefully, the turtles would still be the meeting when this was over.

Where was the first turtle? In safe keeping.

So, we got all signed up for this years beach patrol and the sanctuary's director reiterated... yes, they wanted to get the other 3 turtles' statistics. So we went out to the woods and hoped they would still be nearby. Back in May, I was only able to find one of six that I went back out for. We were luckier this time; none of the three had strayed too far. We carried them back, whether they liked it or not.

We were honored to be allowed to do the measurements ourselves, and we reacquainted ourselves with the method.
More turtle humiliation...

After we were done, we had four turtles to get back into the woods where we found them. Luckily, we'd marked each area and the turtles looked different enough that we knew who was who. We had a tub o' turtles to return.

Of course, carrying a tub of turtles through the sanctuary, you attract a lot of questions, all of which we were happy to answer. Also, a tub of Box Turtles soon becomes a tub of poop and Box Turtles, which was entertaining for a few children... less so for us who were picking up the film-of-poo-covered turtles to point out  certain things. Eventually, we got the four stinkers on their way.
They all got back to their spots and happily lumbered off. We went back and washed up... we found another good use for Posh Charcoal Soap... really gets the Box Turtle poo out!

It was close to 5:30 by now and we were hungry. We decided to get off of the Cape before eating, so we hit the road and headed North. While driving, we noticed sprinkles on the windshield. In this year of drought, this is a very good sign. It started coming down a bit harder, it stopped, it spit... we decided that if it was going to continue, we'd road cruise in Plymouth County. But after eating.

After getting some chow, we came out and yes... it was still raining. We were one exit away from the State Forest that we wanted to cruise, so that's where we headed. My motto is, if you're near a place at night and its raining, and that place has Gray Tree Frogs, go there. And our first sight was a small Gray Tree Frog.

So was our second, but he was way harder to get a shot of.

Small Fowler's Toads were all over the place, too.

You know those cute little Redback Salamanders we flip a lot of? They were out in force, standing in the road, squiggling across and just being wacky.

This spider was big enough to make us stop the car, too.
I still haven't ID'd it.

The roads were full. Here are some of the things we stopped to shoo out of the way... Green Frogs, Fowler's and Redbacks...

How about a tiny Eft?

I realized that, after having just one species accounted for before dinner, we were racking up the species count. What were we up to, six? I saw what I thought was a Bullfrog and stopped to inspect. A small tree frog darted right at me as the Bully bounced away. I tried to shoo the small Gray off of the road but failed.
I stressed no hitch-hikers and Andrea moved him away.

OK, where were we? Green, standin'-tall Redback and guardian of the road, Fowleri!

By now, there were so many of these species on the road, I just had to stop photographing them and just move them or we'd be there all night. The Redbacks were all over! Finally, a different species appeared... a beautiful orange Peeper.

And then #8, a Bull Frog.

I'd said no more Greens, but this guy was amazing.

I've got to say, I was pleased with how my eyes were working. This wee Eft was only about 2 inches long, but he looked like he owned the road, so I stopped.

This Redback earned a photo by being the palest specimen I have ever seen. Stunning.

An inch and a half Eft. Andrea didn't even get out of the car. I brought it to her and it walked off of my hand. We found it.

A big Toad was guarding the road on the way out, standing very tall. It was species #9, an American Toad.

It was with great joy that we hit double digits... with this gorgeous, young Spotted Salamander, now with more freckles.

The last animal we photographed (though we continued to move them off the road) was a chirping American Toad that I brought to Andrea. It peed down her sleeve.

Yes, we saw some DOR animals but mostly, they were alive and kickin' and we moved them out of harm's way. Between the Boxies and the road amphibians, I had had a wonderful day. We didn't get home until after 11 PM and I was toast. (Duckie- I drove for 5 hours and herped by butt off... no shame in needing sleep after that!) My head hit the pillow with visions of squirming Redbacks and pooping Box Turtles dancing in my noggin.


  1. ok ok......but you know i worry about you two guys....
    although really this post did my heart good so i am not as worried

  2. Great job finding and recording the boxies. Thank you for your efforts. They will be brumating shortly. I'm looking forward to seeing you both very soon.

    1. We expect to be around a lot in the next couple of months... for better or worse!