Tuesday, August 8, 2017

More Fun than a Barrell of Water Snakes 8-6-2017

The summer of 2017 struck again. My band had a gig Saturday night so I wanted to hit a place in Norfolk County in the morning... nearby, easy trails... and it was supposed to be nice out. Until the forecast changed and it wasn't going to be nice. Then it was. Then it wasn't. Saturday morning, I still was planning on going there. But Andrea said it would be foolish. Rain was coming soon, so we went to our "Green Snake" spot (where we haven't seen a Green in a couple of years) and saw nothing. I'm reluctant to flip too much there because I know some others who go there and I don't want the spot over flipped. Yeah, it's a thing. We saw one Garter, got no picture, then it started to rain. Meh, I cut my losses and went home. I only got a distant, shitty shot of an Osprey nest through the rain for bird #72 on the year. They looked miserable, too.
#72 Osprey

The show that evening went well and after a solid 4 hours of sleep, the cats woke me up. Some days, I wake up bitchy but this day, I let her sleep in for a couple more hours. When she was up and we were ready, we made our belated trek to the spot I had been wanting to go on Saturday. Our first sight was our first Cedar Waxwings on the year (#73)
#73 Cedar Waxwing

We saw this mushroom being munched on my a slug. His precision work looks like he's making a Halloween mask for a Bullfrog.

We got to a vernal that was bone dry by this time last year but this year, it is still nice and full. Andrea spied this Green Frog near the edge.

We could see movement as we walked around the pool but couldn't discern if it was water skimmers of larvae under the surface (the sun was all wrong for us). By the time we walked back to the front, this gal had come in looking for a snack.
Needless to say, the Green Frog took off like a bolt of lightning and she foraged on...

We got to the middle pond and, as usual, a stack of Painters were up grabbing some sun.

Along the (fairly busy) path, this lovely Ribbon Snake (with a meal in her) was looking for a spot to digest.

A couple of solitary Painted Turtles. The top one is a Yoga-Master.

Heading back to the main trail, Andrea spotted a good sized Garter next to the path. A kid was nearby so I picked her up for a little education-time.
She had her teeth buried into my knuckle while the oblivious kid touched her midsection. I also got musked pretty well.

Even though it had been a rainy week and the temps were a bit cooler (about 72° at that point, around noon), I didn't expect to see any salamanders, but this wee Redback was a delightful surprise.

We saw a bunch of Milkweed Tussocks scampering about. (Thanks again, TeĆ”!)
Mildweed Tussock

Could it be? A four snake-species day in Massachusetts? Yes. Under a rock (that I put back as it was found... take note, everyone), this gorgeous Ringneck was coiled up. Look at how orange she is. That ring!

I also flipped a log that had a Bumblebee nest under it. Very very cool.

We went some time then without photographing anymore animals, though I got this shot of a sexy hiker. I tried to sneak it but she was on to me.

We got back to the main trail after a while and saw a beautiful Nerodia basking under a bridge. It was another good teaching snake... pretty and at a "safe" distance. Gotta sell snakes to people little by little.
The large Garter was still up there, too. She might be looking for a place to dump some young.

The turtle stack had improved during the intervening hours.

We took one last look around the front of the first pond before heading out. There were a bunch of people there. One lady was aghast that there was a snake basking on a rock, pretty much out of view.
We taught her that this stunning Nerodia was not a Water Moccasin and she eventually admitted it was very pretty.

A couple of young kids were there, too. The little girl said she'd seen a snake go under a big rock. Sure enough, there next to the rock was this small in-the-blue Water Snake.
I taught her about the dry, rough scales, the stinky musk (I got nailed) and skin shedding. As is often the case, the young boy was more reluctant to get close to the snake.

Within another minute or two, a young couple showed up, interested to see snakes. We pointed out the big basking gal and the girl said she saw a black snake between the rocks. I knelt down and craned my neck... she has good eyes because I could barely see it, but yes... there was another small Water Snake right there. I reached it and the lessons began anew.
The beauty of these high-red Nerodias can really spark a person's interest. By the way, you can see the snake-blossoms from the Garter on my knuckle in this shot. There was another large Water Snake around but she kept submerging as I got her in focus.

Before quitting, we saw part of a Garter having a bask in the dappled sunlight.

So, by now my hands smelled like a rotting skunk asshole so we went up to the visitor center and I broke out the Posh Charcoal Soap (be sure to order from my daughter, Karmellah Barter).  After washing up, we saw a small, blue Garter basking atop a wood pile.

OK, we were finally done. It was crowded around the Visitor's Center and it was time to go. We walked toward the parking lot. In the ground cover next the wall, we saw some movement. I went around the inside and saw this...
Noticing I'd cut the tail off in the photo (and Bob and Matt would yell at me about that), I took another shot, but got only tail. Haha... bad photographer. Until I uploaded the pic at home and saw the wee face of another Garter in the shot...

Andrea had been sitting on this rock and concrete wall as I took the photos. We didn't know we'd already had a shot of that second guy when Andrea looked down, saw him and picked him up for a closer look.
She put him back inside the wall and he crawled into a crack in the foundation. Then another small guy slid in behind him. Meanwhile, that first one was in a sunny patch, hidden by a bush. And we swear there was a fourth one somewhere in there.

We finally peeled ourselves away. It turned out to be a pretty good day. Four hours of sleep, then six hours of hiking. It might kill me early but it's how I want to go.

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