Our Spring of discontent continues, weather-wise. May should be well above the low-50s if you ask me. But Mother Nature disagrees. Still, the sun was unexpectedly shining through the chilly temps on Sunday morning so we decided to give it a shot and head to a long time favorite spot out in Bristol County. It was kind of a bonus day... it was supposed to be another day of cold rain. We'd heard that this place had changed a bit and the abandoned house and falling-down garage had been leveled. We're sad to hear of their passing. That spot had been good for a number of snakes over the years, including Garters, Racers and Milks.
We got there late, after 11 AM, having decided pretty late to go out at all. Sure enough, the house and garage are now an open dirt field. Good nesting spot for Snappers, I suppose. We'd seen a big gal laying up there before. We headed to the garden to flip some warm stones. Flipping revealed nothing but this good sized Garter was up and winding through the leaves right next to us.
These Redbacks were hiding under a moist log. Note the one on the left is regenerating his tail for the second time.
The breeze kept things very cool along the river. We weren't surprised to see a lack of turtles. This is a turtle-centric place so we figured we'd see some eventually. This bird flew up and perched in front of me. It didn't look familiar so I snapped a picture. Imagine my delight to find out later that it is a long-time nemesis... a Veery, my Lifer #160.
I've known the call of the Veery for years but never even knew what they looked like. It's great to scratch this one off the list.
Andrea was looking for Wood Frogs when I was poking around a sunny patch. I heard something in the leaves and saw a beautiful Garter. He also saw me. I had to chase him down for quite a while but I finally caught him for some up close inspection.
He used Andrea as a tree. His belly was warm.
It's funny... since I don't try to handle snakes too much any more, making a catch has become a lot trickier. I'm out of practice. But my Native American name is Old Man Chasing Garters so I still give it a try every now and again.
Andrea spied the next guy... a slim Ribbon who started to take off but then settled down to pretend she was a twig.
Her cooperation made for some wonderful photos.
Right after the Ribbon, not 10 more feet up the trail, a Garter shot past us. It made no undulating movements, it was just a straight shot like an arrow from a bow. Funny as hell, it was. We're still saying "remember that Garter?" I wish I had it on film.
Putting the lead in Leadback.
Oddly enough, we were seeing no turtles or frogs. One explanation might be that the water level was super high and the river was rushing. Plus, it was still pretty cold. We felt grateful that a few knucklehead snakes were up in the sun. I wonder if this guy, who was hunting after the waterfall, was having any luck.
I'm sad to report that another place is undergoing a big change. Not only was the house/ garage leveled, but our beloved appliance graveyard, home to Milks, Garters, Dekay's, Racers and loads of salamanders (and even a hatchling Spotted Turtle!), has been cleaned up. It was shocking to see. No piece of cover is left. The end of an era. I guess they're cleaning this place up to attract more humans, like the other place down the road. It saddens me because I have seen the result of having more humans... litter. Again I'm left to ponder... why clean up an isolated dumping ground with carpets, old boards, spent appliances and stuff that animals actually use for cover to attract humans who chuck their water bottles and candy wrappers and bagged dog shit everywhere. It just makes no sense.
We did manage to find one piece of cover that they had missed, laying a bit off trail. Sure enough, a small Ringneck Snake was under it.
Think I'm bitching for nothing? Proof is in the pudding, asshole.
Still, we had a lovely time in the woods and on the trails. We'd hoped for our first-of-year Snapper or Musk but we saw no turtles or frogs at all. But, unlike the day before, we saw some snakes and that's always a treat. This pretty olive-green Garter was our last sighting on this bonus herping day.