Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Home Cookin' July 6th, 7th and 9th.

We got home from out AZ/ NM trip at about 7 AM Wednesday morning. Andrea wasn't feeling well and we were toast so our plans of going out to a local spot at dusk kind of went by the wayside. We decided to just rest up and head out to the State Forest in Essex County on Thursday morning, refreshed and ready to go. Oops... we kind of slept in. Isn't that what vacations are for?

We didn't get out to our spot until late morning and by then, our expectations were pretty low. We hit the trails and walked next to lakes and ponds (remember those?) for a few hours. Critter sightings were very low for the first half of the hike. Finally, next to a pond, we saw some distant Painted Turtles up, though I couldn't get a clean shot. We saw some turtle tracks, however, in the soft mud.
I wonder if they were made by this guy...

Heading from pond to lake, Andrea saw this little Garter next to the path.
He slithered off while I was still trying to determine where his head was. Luckily, Andrea got the shot.

We found a nice quiet spot and, well... just sat there enjoying the placidity, the sight and the sounds of nature.
Most of our time was spent right here. Eventually, we got up and turned back.

The walk back was more fruitful. Another Painted Turtle was up basking.

We saw a few tiny toads, most likely American Toads.

A Green Frog in a mud puddle. His face was right in the sun making a decent photograph highly unlikely.

A lovely Garter slid into the pond as we walked by, then curved back to rest on a log, giving me a nice shot.

Our next species was found in a way that I prefer not to find them. We heard an intermittent chirping and I knew it was amphibian, but I couldn't figure out what or why it was calling. Andrea recognized it as a distress call. Sure enough, we saw a Northern Water Snake had caught a Green Frog by the back leg and was in the process of consuming it.
I could have interfered but its not my place to do so, even though the call was breaking my heart. I snapped the one picture as a voucher for the Nerodia and we walked on. Nature can be cruel.

On the way out, an alert Bullfrog made us smile again with this doofy pose.

That was it. We got Ice Cream and went home to get ready for the next day's adventure.

Friday morning, I had an itch to go to Plymouth County and look for Hognose Snakes, among other things. Again, we got a late start and didn't get there until late morning. Rain was coming; we'd even passed through some showers during the drive but it was only drizzling when we got to our first stop. Grumpy Fowler's Toads were our first species on the day.
(I took this second picture from behind the toad with the camera upside-down. It's a testament to my lousy photography that it looks pretty much the same as all of my photos!)

It appears that we have finally found a somewhat reliable place for Redbellied Snakes in MA. This flip of an auburn-red Redbell was super nostalgic for me.
As a kid in New York state, we flipped Redbells like crazy and this sight, moreso than the charcoal phase for some reason, really took me back. Gorgeous belly, too.
What a face! I've never seen one sneer but they do a lip-curl sometimes. This guy is just grinnin'!

Rain was getting heavier so when we got to our next spot, so we put on another layer. The warm rain might have precluded us from finding any more snakes but the frogs in the bog were enjoying it. Bull, Green (an almost golden one), Bull, and Bull.

It was really pissing down while we were still out on the bog so we started to step a little livelier. We did not expect to see this gal up on the path, possibly looking for a place to nest.
It's way late for this but Andrea inspected her and she was heavy and her shell was a bit distended. Another sign of a screwy 2017.

But yeah, at this point, we called it a day. We'd seen some animals but we didn't want to get sick by trudging through the rain just to up our numbers. We headed back home for a hot shower and a pizza.

Saturday was going to be a day of taking care of things around the house, then taking our belated Norfolk County Dusk Hike but as dusk neared, heavy rains fell again. This was getting old. Plans were made to head back out to Plymouth County on Sunday morning to see if we would have better luck than Friday's damp hike. We actually got on the road at a good time and pulled in to the first spot at about 9 AM under sunny skies. Again, a plump Fowler's Toad was our first sighting.

The bogs are always a treat; they're frog-havens. This Bull stereotypically sat on top of a lily-pad...

Oh, look... the boxes of bees (that had been quiet in the rain two days prior) were buzzing frantically.
We'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time a few years ago and hit this path right after an ATV had ripped through and got a few angry stings. This time, we walked slowly and respectfully and they ignored us.

The next bog was also quite froggy. Proof: this Bullfrog.

I was photographing this Green Frog when I heard Andrea curse...
Evidently, I had stirred up a Hognose that was in the grass in the middle of the path. Andrea saw it just as it had headed into the brush from its hiding place. She lunged but missed it. How can these guys that are so slow be such efficient escape artists? We dug through the leaves and pine needles but never found the little blighter. So, still no Hog photos yet for 2017. *sigh*

Since the weather was nice, we got to take all of our favorite trails at our favorite spots. It was Fowler's Toad Day. We saw dozens, of all sizes; from T.T the Tiny Toad (yes, I made up a song) to small adults, and all sizes in between.

We went to a great turtle spot in hopes of seeing the pride of Plymouth, the disjunct population of Redbellied Cooters. One was swimming around in the rain-agitated water of a pond.

While I was talking to a fisherman who was afraid of the Water Moccasins around (Me: "They're not here... Virginia is the Northernmost part of their range." Him: "Yeah, well they're here!"), Andrea spied this very young Redbelly in the shallow water.
We watched him dive down and munch on the soft greens underwater.

It was getting too humany at this spot and Moccasin-boy was joined by other loud, ignorant assholes, so we moved on. We managed to spy one more long distance Redbelly on the other side of the pond.

We made one last pit stop on the way out, Toad Rug, the rug that always has a Fowler's or two under it. Or four.

And that ended up our vacation. I've got to say, it was a pretty good one. The trip to the Southwest was wonderful, even if we didn't get huge numbers. And if we missed the moisture while we were out there, we certainly got ourselves moist with our home sweet home cookin'. Most importantly, we were together, doing what we loved.

1 comment:

  1. this makes me happy- hearing /seeing you folks having fun