Monday, October 24, 2016

October 22nd and 23rd, 2016

I had Friday the 21st off. I slept almost the entire day away. Andrea had work. It was pouring rain by the time she got home and it was still warm. More or less rested, I wanted to go out for pizza and road cruising. She did not. I lost. We had pizza delivered and watched a movie. Still, a good night.

Saturday morning, the temps had dropped to the 50s and it was still raining. With an 80% chance of rain continuing through the afternoon, we still headed out in the late morning to a nearby pond to look for Ambystoma. We bundled up and put on our useless $79 raincoats. We were soaked through to the skin almost immediately, and it hadn't really started pouring yet. We flipped some Redbacks.

After all of the bitching I have done about the drought for the last few months, there's no way I'm going to complain about the rain. To be honest, it was nice to see some standing water puddling up the paths.

We got to a Two-lined Salamander stream that had dried up months ago. It was still waterless, just a few puddles under some rocks, but it was muddy. We saw no salamanders. They either dried up and blew away or had moved to other spots. The nearby hill, named Ringneck Hill, was damp and a few Redbacks were present, but no Ambystoma or Ringnecks were around. We both decided to look in the valley behind Ringneck Hill. Andrea was ahead of me and saw this guy...
An intrepid knucklehead, for sure... 59° and raining, but this guy was up looking for something.
I held him for a bit and he crawled up my sleeve and out the armhole inside my coat. I had to take it off to extricate him. He crawled away with a piece of my flaking rubber lining stuck to his tail.

So, we were pretty happy. More happiness came a few moments later when we flipped a stone that had a this-year Spotted Salamander and a bonus Redback under it.
The "you sit here while I replace the rock" shot:

We made it up to a cabin area just as the skies opened up and it absolutely pissed  down for a while. We took some refuge but it was just buckets coming down.
We attempted to go down by the pond to flip some stones but it was a raw, cold wind pelting us with rain down there, so we said fukkit and went back.

The path back was interesting... spots had streams running down and the Two-lined area now had about 3 inches of water in it. When I say it was pouring, you'd best believe it was pouring, l-u-v. Oddly enough, even though the rain persisted, the sun poked through, making some sunny patches as we returned to the car. Make up your mind, Mother Nature.

We were happy with the few animals we'd seen on Saturday and we impressed ourselves with our tenacity. Sunday was going to be drier, sunnier and... colder. We chose a hike in Bristol County to test our skills. We knew the local hibernaculums would likely have animals to see, but we wanted to see this place in Taunton one last time this year. Since we saw nothing rare, I can say where... Boyden Refuge.

We got there at about 11:30 AM and it was still raw. Unsunny spots were very cool and the wind was a bastard. The abandoned house, which is barely standing, had been broken into.

I went around the back to "look for Wood Frogs" and found a spiffy Leadback.
When I got back out front, there were four cops on ATVs talking to Andrea. This is a good thing.

The Boydon Refuge can be pretty sketchy. Drugs, hitch-ups and break-ins to the house... we even heard that some guy was living in the woods a few years ago. At any rate, it was good to see the police presence here and I promised them I'd mention it so that the 3 people who read this blog post will know they mean business.

We carried on after talking to them. On the way to the garden, we saw more Redbacks.
It's good to have them back.

Walking through the garden, Andrea saw a wee nipper of a Garter.
I pancaked him in between my hands to try to calm him... it didn't work very well.
Speedy lil devil.

The wind was ferocious and any hopes we'd had for turtles were diminishing by the minute. The river's open areas and basking spots were empty. A vernal that, again, had dried up long ago was at least muddy this day and held a small puddle of standing water. I flipped a rock along the side (that we've named Newt Rock, All American because of one flip a few years ago that yielded 4 newts) and it had one dark, ornery looking Eastern Newt.
I'd though of moving him over to some cover closer to the puddle but Andrea wisely pointed out that he was under Newt Rock for a reason and we put him back there after replacing the rock.

We got to a spot along the river where growths out in the water were shielding the wind and it provided enough protection for a couple of Painted Turtles to climb up for a bask. The first one was wearing fun fur.

The next guy kept sliding into the drink as we would approach. I finally got this shot, though he's obviously keeping a close eye on me.

This Grasshopper was so big, I thought it was a Green Frog while it was in the grass.
I swear you can see Peter Graves reflected in his eye.

I noticed that we were on a low path at a spot where we usually take a hill path. I argued with myself... stay low? Go up? Grudgingly, I decided to go up and Andrea followed me. It was our good fortune to see this faint-striped guy up there!
I tried to boop him and he slid into a secret hole in the ground. We might have found a Garter hibernaculum after all.

Heading back, we revisited some spots and explored further. It was back in the garden that Andrea found our first and only frog of the weekend... a lovely Pickerel.

With the car in sight, I flipped a rock and we got our last animals of the day... a Leadback and an earwig.

So, not a lot of species this weekend, but we enjoyed our time together in the outdoors, even when we were getting poured on. Other than Redbacks, who we should be able to see for a bit longer still, any one of these species could be the last ones of 2016. We never take any of them for granted throughout the year but now, since the temps have become much cooler, we consider them a gift.


  1. i am sosorry about that house too

    i love your photos in the wild you two
    and i have been forewarned about the police presence in the area now

    1. Heed my warning, should you find yourself up in Bristol County, MA!!!

  2. cuidá a tu señora porque se ve linda y te la van a robar!!!Cariños a todos Martha