Season's end - Boston business trip

For your reports/images, made outside Europe and the "Mediterranean" countries. Not to be too narrow minded and limited to our European/Mediterranean herps.

Season's end - Boston business trip

Postby Kristian Munkholm » Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:27 pm

I am quite a few reports behind by now, in part, perhaps, because I've been busy, but mostly, I guess, because finds the last last year and a bit have been overall a bit less than stellar and it's always more fun to write when there's something to brag about. Entering the off season it's high time to do something about this, so here is – finally - the first short installment of what will hopefully end up a catch up series, beginning in reverse order...

Last week I went on a business trip to Boston. Determined to make the most of the opportunity I arrived a day early to sneak in at least a taste of herping. Realizing, of course, it was very late in the season I knew it wouldn't be easy so I had contacted Mark Lotterhand for a few tips. He graciously offered to join me for a day in the field, an offer I couldn't refuse.

After a week or two of miserable weather with occasional sub zero temperatures and even a bit of snow Mark felt sure the ophidian season was over so we had agreed on other targets. Then, the night before, forecasters predicting a sunny day, he wrote me and suggested we give it a go after all. Hence, we started the day at a den near his house. After a 40 minute delay on the commuter rail out of Boston due to falling leaves from the storm Saturday I was met at the station by Mark and his two kids and we hurried to a powerline cut through the woods where a steep slope on the edge of a beaver pond should house some of the hardiest local snake species. It was a beautiful day, the famed colours of New England fall though probably even more vibrant a week or two before still quite stunning, but it was on the cool side, temperatures peaking a little later around 10 degrees. As such, it was great to be out but our hopes were modest – perhaps 1 or 2 northern water snakes, Nerodia sipedon, before heading on...

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We did a tad better. Mark found the first basking water snake straight of the bat, then came a fleeing eastern garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis, then another, followed by a one eyed water snake, and a water snake brace of two different sizes and finally a couple of basking garters, all within a few minutes. Mark's friend Mike soon showed up, reporting a bald eagle flying by overhead at the parking lot.

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Continuing our search, alongside field voles and deer mice we soon found the first eastern ribbon snake, Thamnophis sauritus, followed by more garters and another ribbon snake. By the time we headed for the car we were up to 8 garters, 2 ribbons and 4 water snakes, not bad for the temperature and time of year. On the way back we encountered a cottontail and I flipped a redback salamander, Plethodon cinereus.

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Next up we dropped off the kids at Mark's house and headed to the river for our main target. In normal conditions we might have seen some on the bottom but after the recent rains the usually shallow, clear and slow moving river had transformed into a deep, murky torrent so our only hope was to find one on the bank. We had all but passed out of the woods when just as we were about to exit suitable habitat there it was – a beautiful adult female wood turtle, Glyptemys insculpta, basking in the pine needles.

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After a few pictures we walked back to the car, enjoying the flocks of bluebirds and goldfinches along the way. We drove on to our final stop of the day a little further upstream where the river meandered through the woods, surrounded by dunes, vernal pools and cranberry bogs. It was a lovely spot but we didn't find much. Red and green squirrels scurreied about, I flipped a couple of redbacks, and we caught a quick glimpse of a couple of frogs, probably green frogs, Lithobates clamitans, escaping into the water.

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By now the sun was quite low on the horizon and it was getting cold, so we made our way back to Mark's house. As we were enjoying a beer in the kitchen, talking about reptiles, politics and everything in between, a bobcat suddenly appeared in the backyard, just next to the porch, a fitting end to a thoroughly enjoyable day in the woods.
Kristian Munkholm
 
Posts: 450
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 2:04 pm
Hometown: Copenhagen
country: Denmark

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