Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Quiet Twelve. 9-2-2017

This was another one of my plans. I'd been wanting to get out to Western Massachusetts, Hampden County in particular, and look around a mountain that we always have a lot of fun at. We also get to see a great variety of species there. So, I talked Andrea into it for Saturday morning. We got up early but the temperatures out there (still 36° at 7 AM) had us taking our time. Still, we arrived around 10 AM and headed down to the vernal pool that is usually very good to us.

Surprise, surprise. This wet forest that usually inundates us with Redbacks (usually Leads), Efts, Spotted Sals, sometimes Marbled Sals, and myriad frogs was skunking us. It was fairly dry despite bthe previous night's rain. It took quite some time before we found this small Wood Frog squeezed under a log. (I took this pic upside-down.)

It didn't get much easier after that. I went out into the muddy edges of the shrinking vernal. There was still some water in the middle (unlike last year). This small Grey Tree Frog jumped on to a log I was about to look under.

At the same time, still in the woods, Andrea found a very interesting Newt.
Tiny, but colored closer to a ready-to-return adult. She called "Eft", which seems right but the coloration is very interesting.

She came over to see the Grey, who hadn't moved, and noticed it only had 3 legs.
Again we were reminded of the Fowler's Toad with the extra leg from a few weeks ago. This guy might be looking for a donor. He moved pretty well in spite of his handicap.

A couple of Pickerel Frogs made themselves known next.

We stood on the edge of the vernal watching Cedar Waxwings flitting about and it was then that we noticed a distant Painted Turtle up basking on the other side.
We'd never seen a turtle in here as it's often mostly dry this late into the year. There are larger bodies of water across the street; that must be this one's usual spot.

Heading towards the path that leads up the mountain, we finally flipped a log and saw our first, and only, metamorph Spotted Salamander.
We would usually have had dozens of these (and Efts and Redbacks...) by this time. We just couldn't figure out why salamanders weren't all over the place.

We started up the path that would take us up the mountain. Most of it is a gradual climb but we got to one spot that is a fairly steep incline for about 30 yards. We faltered a bit. Andrea wasn't nearly as eager as I was to scale the path. My choice for a Saturday hike wasn't panning out to be a good one. We decided to stay low, so we went back to the car and went in to the reservation rather than climbing up.

Our first stop within the gates was a trickling brook that always delivers stream salamanders. I immediately had a Two-Line and a Duskie hand me my ass. Between the two of us, we finally found a couple of Two-lines that were more cooperative.

Here's a Pickerel Frog that was down there who doesn't play by the rules. His back-blotches aren't in a line and he looks like there's some green on him. That should make him a Leopard! But he isn't.

This Green Frog was taking a bath in the stream.

We finally got our lenses on a Dookie, too.

Here's a bright, golden Two-Lined Salamander.

OK, that isn't so bad. They came pretty easily. We saw a small Wood Frog on the way back to the car.
Somehow, we were up to nine different species, all the while seemingly having less luck than usual. And no Redbacks, yet.

We parked again to peruse the pond. We've seen turtles and Water Snakes here in the past. This squirrel wished us luck.

Sure enough, some Painted Turtles were up on a fallen tree across the pond.

There was one small Nerodia up, warming on the sunny rocks.

Some Painters were swimming about in front of us, too.

I was poking around in the culvert under the road where this Sweetheart Underwing Moth (thank you, TeĆ”!) was hanging out.
Catocala amatrix – Sweetheart Underwing Moth

This teeny Green Frog was hiding in the algae, too.

We decided to walk around the pond, something we had done only once before. (Let's face it, when we're here, we're usually up on the mountain.) On the way to the path, a speedy Garter jetted out in front of us. A tough one to catch, we both got musked for our efforts.
And off she went like a bullet.

From this angle, we could see that more Painted Turtles had gathered on the tree.

By this time, we were so desperate for a Redback that it became a game; the first person to find one got lunch bought for them. It was usually our Dusky game but they had come pretty easily. Our next sighting, however, was another small Wood Frog.

Nearing the end of the trail 'round the pond, I hit paydirt and a free lunch.
Andrea asked if that was our tenth species. I said no, it was #12. It sure snuck up on us.

On the way out, we had another small Pickerel and I finally got a decent shot of a basking Painter.

Twelve species is certainly a very good day, especially in Massachusetts. I felt some sadness driving home because I'd been looking forward to this trip for weeks and then it was over. Oh well, there will be more trips here, there and everywhere. Until I can't move anymore.

No comments:

Post a Comment