Monday, January 23, 2017

Run to the Hills Jan. 21st, 2017

It was a Saturday morning and we had to take DeeDee, Andrea's pet Western Hognose, to the vet for a wellness check up. She passed with flying colors... she is in good flesh. This is how she looked while she waited for the doctor.

After that, we took her home. The weather was turning out to be beautiful so we decided to head to the Blue Hills to do some actual herping. It had been unseasonably warm for a few days and there had been plenty of rain. Some salamander snooping was in order. We listened to some Iron Maiden on the drive there to get pumped up.

After arriving, our first stop was a trickling stream that is bisected by the path. It is often good for Two-lined Salamanders and their larvae. Another possibility in this teeny stream is frogs... and that's exactly what we found. This slumbering Pickerel Frog is, obviously, our first frog of the year. Premier palustris.
He was actually fairly active as it wasn't very cold out... high 40s and starting to get sunny. We put him back and he returned to the underside of his watery rock.

The other side of the path is gorgeous... clean, shallow trickling water...
I got on my hands and knees and sifted through the leaves and silt. I saw an adult Two-lined Salamander... this is the best shot I could get while he was in the water:
With my face just about submerged, I was looking at the swirling silt and saw the smallest larvae I have ever seen...
Eventually, we netted a few more for observation.
We were very excited to see such tiny forms of life. Exhilarating.

We searched on for our first Plethodons of the year and hoped that they and some ambystomoids would be part of our sightings. It was proving harder than we thought. Finally, Andrea flipped a log and got our first Redback of the year.
And she soon followed up with another.

It took a while but I finally chipped in with my own.

We got to another stream area and saw some more Two-lines.

Our last critter in Norfolk County was this Leadback, who presented me with a real photography challenge.

The sun had emerged and it had become a full-on beautiful day. We needed some lunch so we stopped on the way back home. We also decided to hit our local spot to see if any noggins had decided to poke out of the snake dens. By the time we got there, however, the shadows had gotten very long and anything that might have peeked out earlier had definitely returned to the underground.

We ran into a guy we'd met the week before and he asked if he and his son could walk back with us and look for salamanders. We struck out with Ambystoma again, but we all got to photograph some Redbacks.

It's not every January day that we can get in a nice, longish hike and see three species. We considered ourselves very lucky. It felt great to get all tired and muddy. It has since become cold again, so we look at that Saturday as a gift and we say "Thank you, Mother Nature!"

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