Sunday, April 9, 2017

Getting Some Ejicayshin. 4-8-2017

There are 3 species of reptile and amphibian occurring in Massachusetts that we have not seen. (Mind you, we haven't seen all of the other ones within Mass's borders, but we've seen them.) The three species are the Mudpuppy. Good luck. The Bog Turtle. Not likely to EVER see one. And the Eastern Spadefoot. Now, the Spadefoot is threatened in this state but it's still a possibility. We have twice made trips to Cape Cod specifically to target them but have failed both times. That's why when we saw a field class being offered by Mass Audubon, we jumped at the chance. The fact is, we needed more education on the species.

We got to the sanctuary on the Cape right on time... 10 AM. It was cool and windy, in the 40s. There was about a dozen people signed up for the class. Unfortunately, some were children. But the leader was very knowledgeable and showed us a lot of interesting data. He was very good with the brats, too... bless his soul.

We started on the walk, to check on some man-made vernals that are there to try to repopulate the Spadefoots. Here is one.

The pools were dotted with funnel-traps. The first one gave us our first herp... a soon to be terrified Spring Peeper.
Why do kids need to handle everything? And so roughly!

My camera then died dead. Luckily, Andrea had hers.

The leader was very thorough. Obviously, he went over a lot of stuff that we know already but it was still very cool to see things, like these Spotted Salamander egg masses.

This large, beautiful Wood Frog was in a funnel-trap.

So was this Green Frog, our first on the year.
I had to hiss at a little bastard named Connor to get the hell out of my light. His father was right behind me. The sap actually thanked me a little later. Weird.

We took a look around the big pond on the hike. In the sun, it was nice but when it went behind the clouds and the wind blew, it was frigid!

The leader brought up a leaf with some sperm packets on it. It's nice to get a good up close look at those.

The next vernal we looked at was surrounded by a tarp fence and there were dozens of pitfall traps along the edges, both inside and out. I scored the first find with a plump female Spotted Salamander.
She cleaned up nicely.

A small Bullfrog was in another trap.

We checked a few more spots but inevitably, we came up with no Spadefoots. The leader, however, had seen about 30 of them at another spot on the Cape two nights previous, when they had been enjoying a warm rain. He brought one of those to show us.
Obviously, we don't count that as our "lifer" but it's nice to see an actual specimen of a Massachusetts Spadefoot.

We got plenty of new info to work with, as well. It was a worthwhile class, for sure. Since we were there, we went back to the trails after the class wrapped up. We had hoped to check a few spots more thoroughly. Plus, we thought that some of the sunny hills might have a snake or two up. Sadly, the sun had gone behind clouds by then. I did see one Painted Turtle balancing on a log (that I was walking on!) but he plopped in before I could get a shot. First turtle sighting of the year.

Imagine our surprise when we saw this sight... overcast and 50°...
I guess that when you're hungry, you're gonna EAT!

As is always the case, heading home from the Cape takes us by a favorite spot in Plymouth County. Of course, it was still cool... about 49°, but we wanted to see if we could see some more animals. We pulled in to our best Four-toed Salamander spot and hoped for the best. First up, we saw a few Redbacks.
It's funny, Andrea's camera wasn't working by this time... she had to use her phone. She said "it's just like your nightmares!" Yup, almost every night I dream that I'm seeing animals but have no camera to record them.

The next one was this stunning Leadback. Jet black, he was.

We finally got our target, a tiny Four-toed Salamander.

That made eight species on the day. That's a rewarding Saturday, even if we didn't break the Spadefoot seal. But we're armed with more information. I still say this is our year. Something has to go right... doesn't it?


  1. you'll find your spadefoot in the wild.........this year i think

  2. Keep me in the loop about spadefoots this year... I have three spots that I know are good for them but being vehicularly challenged I've never managed to actually be there at the right time. I'd love to finally hit the road with you guys and that would be quite a way to start!

    Was the leader of your tour Bryan or Ian by any chance?

    1. Yes- Ian. He more or less said Sandy Neck in the rain should produce. We were in the Provincelands last year all ready to go, but the forecast was wrong and no rain fell. :(

      Yes- we'd love to hit the road with you some time. Let's make it happen!