Since I saw a couple of Garters on Friday, it seemed only fair to get Andrea's fine fine butt out into the woods on Saturday morning. We had some things to do but the sun was shining and it was warm, so we hit our nearby den-spot for a look around before our errands.
It is so rewarding to walk trails in February without jackets. In fact, we were decked out in T-shirts. Our first animal, under one of the Old Reliable rocks, was a fine looking Redback.
Our first couple of den spots yielded no snakes, so I started to worry a bit. I shouldn't have. The Cottonwood Dens had Andrea's first snake of the year... a smiling Garter.
While kneeling in to get a shot of it with her phone, she startled this shy guy:
Oh look, not 3 feet away...
Right behind us...
That periscoping guy was watching me as I attempted a shot of this guy...
So, yeah- the Cottonwood Den was bursting with savory sirtalis splendor! While walking back to the trail from there, Andrea startled a trio... no, wait- a quartet of Garters who were up to no good, far away from their den... wherever it might have been.
The fourth one inspects a striped plant. Any relation?
So, if I'm not mistaken, that's 9 Garters... in February. On we went.
We headed over to TP Hill... the spot where, last Fall, Garters were strewn about like somebody had toilet papered the hill with snakes. Sure enough, we almost stepped on a few. They were quick to slither into tough to photograph positions.
The nearby Rock Wall Den was looking empty until Andrea found this skinny mini. It was the smallest Garter of the day, only about 12 inches long.
Nearby, this bright cow-flop was sunning.
It should be noted that we didn't have much time and this entire hike was only about an hour. On the way out, we flipped a damp log and got our first Blue-spotted Salamander of the year... a fairly drab but still awesome specimen.
We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening with family. We had planned to go out at night if it was going to rain. Our dear friend Teá was going to be in Plymouth County and we were going to meet her either there or at another spot in hopes of amphibian movement. Our family time went into the evening and we missed our chance to hang with Teá, but the rain had started up so we said to hell with exhaustion and headed down Route 3 to Plymouth County.
Our tenacity (stupidity?) eventually paid off. After seeing a half dozen DOR Peepers, we finally saw our first live ones on the year.
Beautiful little frogs.
A very welcome first sighting... our beloved American Toad, standing tall and proud.
Peepers were everywhere! No wonder we'd seen so many squashed ones.
Finally, our main target came strutting out into the road, paying us no nevermind and making a decent photo really difficult... our first Spotted Salamander of 2017.
Did I mention it was raining?
Two adults too stupid to get out of the rain or two people enjoying amphibians on a balmy February night. You decide.
I am proud of my ability to see a Redback on the road from behind the wheel of my car. Of course, I can barely see my hand in front of my face but... priorities, you know.
Another first of the year... a small Bullfrog.
And our last FOY species... an Eft.
He also had no intention of stopping for a photo so I filmed him.
A dopey looking Bully. I mean that in a nice way.
This Peeper looks at me incredulously... "not taking a 3/4 shot??"
Not huge but the biggest Bull of the night.
We saw plenty more animals... here are a few of them...
Our last animal on this remarkable day was this magnificent Spotted Salamander.
A fitting ending to this 8-species February day.
It was after midnight by the time we started home. We were toast but this time in nature was a much needed diversion to help heal the crappy year we've been having. Thank you, Mother Nature, for being there when we need you.