Monday, May 22, 2017

Something Old, Something New. 5-20-2017

I honestly don't know why I still suggest a trip out to a certain barren spot in the North-ish/ West-ish part of Massachusetts, but I do. We have seen one Hognose, a handful of Garters and little else there but hope (and stupidity) springs eternal, so I suggested it as our Saturday morning excursion. We were going to meet a friend later in the day to look around a different spot so all wouldn't be lost.

We got to the desolate wasteland by about 10:30 AM after roughly 2 hours of driving. This spot is another one of our haunts that has been razed within the last couple of years and it doesn't help our chances. I'll cut to the chase. We saw a Redback.
We spent two hours scouring for Box Turtles and Hognoses and saw none. Two Redbacks in two hours. And yet I'll probably suggest we go again some time. I do not learn.

After grabbing some lunch a few towns over, we met up with Andrea's friend Kyle, a herper who has been having some luck with a very elusive species in Massachusetts. He is a very kind guy who was going to show us a part of one of our (not often hit) spots that we had not seen before. The temps were in the low 70s and it was sunny. Things looked good for animals, perhaps including the tough-to-see species we sought.

Our first sighting was of a tiny Eft who was under a log.

Another Redback; this one was quite vivid.

Kyle is an excellent naturalist to be in the woods with. His knowledge isn't just with herps. He brought these lovely wild flowers to our attention... Eastern Red Columbine.
Eastern Red Columbine

We had been ascending for much of the hike (the old man here kept up fairly well!) when Kyle got us to a spot and said "Look down"... this chasm was right at our feet.
It came out of nowhere.

This was an amazing place, filled with crevices, caves, chasms and other words that start with C. (Not that one, you perv.) Breath-taking. Note the bird's nest on the top wall on the first photo...

We poked around this magical spot for a while then started our descent. We saw some more Efts and Redbacks on the way down. My color-morph names for the Redbacks are Chocolateback and Goldtop, respectively. Write that down.

Our next stop was a fallen down building in the middle of the woods. There was plenty of flipping to do. Our only find was this brilliant Eft, almost dayglo in the sunlight. This picture doesn't do him justice. Even if it was in focus it wouldn't...

We made it back to our cars and talked for quite a while. Kyle is a great guy to talk nature with because he "gets it". He's no trophy herper... being out in nature and learning is what its all about, and that's something all three of us agree on. We will definitely try to get out this way to spend more time with him in the future. So, we went in with a target species and failed. Yet still we had a great time. Two species, both quite common, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I kind of feel sad for trophy herpers who couldn't appreciate that.

Since we were there, after Kyle departed we headed back in to a dribbly hill that is usually good for salamanders. We didn't yet have a Dusky on the year so why not? On the way, we saw a lovely male Baltimore Oriole calling from a tree.

Ol' Dribbly didn't disappoint. One of the first rocks flipped got us our First-of-Year Dookie.
Quite a wee one, at that.

A small Two-lined Salamander was nearby.

There's a spot where the stream crosses under the path... only sometimes when the stream is full, it goes pretty much over the path, too. This always makes for fun flipping. This second Dook was under a path stone.

I flipped another stone and in the puddled water underneath, I saw a noggin poking out. Then, a small Pickerel Frog darted out towards the stream. Luckily, he paused long enough for me to get a photo.
Then, he quickly plopped into the drink.

Since we were getting devoured by mosquitoes, we decided it was time to head back. Also, it would be getting dark soon and we had a long drive ahead of us. Our last sighting on the day was a pair of Efts under a... wait for it... birch log!
Don't besmirch the birch!

We might have only photographed five species and failed at targets in two spots but on the long drive home, we declared it a successful day. It was good to hang with a like-minded person and see some new spots that just blew our minds.

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