It is currently December 12th, 2017, 9:49 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Pre-Trip Update
PostPosted: April 29th, 2017, 10:22 am 
User avatar

Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 522
Location: Springfield, VA
I wasn't planning on making another post before my trip out to the mountains next week, but I've had a surprising amount of success since sharing my last post at the beginning of the month. Since then, I have turned up five lifers, two of them quite unexpectedly. I had the pleasure of herping with some friends last weekend, and when you have several people to split the work between, flipping rocks suddenly becomes a lot more productive and a lot less taxing on your body.

I just hope my trip next week can be as productive as the past few weeks have been. Enjoy!

I'll begin this post with a bang, and by far my most unexpected find this year. We were back home in Anne Arundel County, MD on a Saturday at the church that I grew up at. My son was participating in an Easter Egg hunt there. I've always wanted to explore and herp the woods next to the church, which are quite large given the urban environment they are found in. After the hunt, I stole away briefly to scope out a small section of the woods. The very first log I flipped had this beauty under it - a Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum).

ImageDSCN3290 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I'm pretty sure I yelled in joy when I saw it. - I had no aspirations of ever really finding one of these, given their secrecy. I'm glad I can check that one off of my list!

ImageDSCN3294 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Imageiphone Four-toed Salamander (2) by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Under a nearby log, I also flipped this Eastern Wormsnake (Carphophis amoenus amoenus, which crapped all over my hand.

Imageiphone Eastern Wormsnake CPBC 3 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Later that day, I made another unexpected find. Not a lifer, but a first for this location. I was at the marina in my childhood neighborhood in Severna Park, and I spotted two Northern Red-bellied Cooters basking on a log. In all my life, I have never seen turtles here before. The marina sits on a tidal, brackish creek that flows into the Magothy River. I've heard of turtles being seen on the upper reaches of the Magothy, but never had seen any myself. Has anyone else seen Red-bellies in brackish water before?

ImageDSCN3303 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

The following weekend saw me home alone without the wife and kid, so like any responsible adult, I spent most of it herping. It started off on a bad note, as it rained all day Saturday and temperatures started dropping throughout the day, ending in the low 50s. I went to a nearby park, and besides a lone Bullfrog, this Wormsnake was the only herp I saw.

ImageDSCN0627 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I had a few out-of-town friends in the area for the weekend, and living in NY, they really wanted to get out and herp, so we headed out to a spot in Fauquier County that night. Despite temps around 50F, we managed to have a productive evening as a local friend showed us his flip spot. Lots of snakes and salamanders were found under rocks in a powerline cut, taking refuge from the cool rain. I never would have expected such a bounty in those conditions, and it turned out to be more productive than our planned road cruising outing.

Lifer White-spotted Slimy Salamander (Plethodon cylindraceus)

ImageDSCN0637 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Lifer Eastern Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae valeriae)

ImageDSCN0643 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

The neatest Northern Black Racer I've ever seen. This juvenile was in shed and was starting to lose its juvenile coloration. It was also extremely calm, which made for some nice photos.

ImageDSCN0650 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0652 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

An uncooperative Wormsnake

ImageDSCN0656 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Most of the Eastern Red-backed Salamanders we saw were yellow, which is an uncommon color trait

ImageDSCN0661 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0664 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0678 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Another Slimy

ImageDSCN0669 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Four total Northern Ring-necked Snakes (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii) were seen; two are pictured.

ImageDSCN0673 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0676 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Young one

ImageDSCN0674 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0677 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

On Sunday, temps were cool (50s), but the sun started to peek out, much to my surprise. I decided that conditions were good enough to go searching for one of my White Whales - the Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata). I had spent several hours this spring searching for them, but to no avail. Meanwhile, my wife saw four of them at a local park here in Fairfax County while on a stroll with her friends. Knowing that they are at this location, I set out with hopes of finding one.

First find while there was my first Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) of the year.

ImageDSCN3314 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Lots of Tree Swallows were flying over the boardwalk

ImageDSCN3335 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I walked a loop around the boardwalk once, but did not see any Spotteds. I decided to walk a certain segment again, knowing that they've been seen there before. After a deliberate scan of the opposite shoreline, I finally saw the shape of a small turtle. Pulling it up in my camera's viewfinder, I was able to confirm its identity! I finally got my lifer Spotted Turtle, making it my fifth lifer of the year.

ImageDSCN3323 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN3330 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Seeing that turtle made the outing worth it, but I did see a few other herps as well.

Wormsnake (flipped as pictured)

ImageDSCN3342 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

In-situ Northern Watersnake

ImageDSCN3355 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Close up

ImageDSCN3358 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

The next day, I met up with my friend to check a park near the Potomac for Wood Turtles. Again, it was in the upper 50s with rain forecasted. We didn't find much besides some Redbacks. However, on our way back to our cars, I stopped to flip a rock adjacent to the trail. Sitting right next to it, in plain sight, was my lifer Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens)! This one was in its Red Eft stage. I had not seen it when I went for the rock, but I'm glad I made the choice to flip it. You can see the rock on the edge of the frame, to the right.

ImageDSCN0699 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0705 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

A neat millipede we flipped - anyone know what it is?

ImageDSCN0697 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

After that, we decided to hit the Fauquier flip spot again. It was less successful on that day, but we still found four species. Oddly enough, after getting our lifer Red Eft, we found three more at this spot, all of them together at the base of a tree.

ImageDSCN0715 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0716 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0718 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

More of the usual suspects

ImageDSCN0722 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN0727 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

To close out, here's a Snapping Turtle that posed nicely for me in a pond in Fairfax City. There were also lots of Eastern Painted Turtles there as well.

ImageDSCN3389 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Hope you enjoyed! Hopefully I'll have a lot of good finds from our trip to share when I get back.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Pre-Trip Update
PostPosted: April 29th, 2017, 4:11 pm 
User avatar

Joined: January 18th, 2015, 3:04 pm
Posts: 94
Nice post and congrats on those lifers. With some practice you'd be surprised how many salamander lifers you can get.

Quote:
Has anyone else seen Red-bellies in brackish water before?


I believe with my limited experience with that species I have only seen them in brackish water. Either way they seem to thrive in it.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Pre-Trip Update
PostPosted: May 26th, 2017, 10:28 am 
User avatar

Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 522
Location: Springfield, VA
kevin h wrote:
Nice post and congrats on those lifers. With some practice you'd be surprised how many salamander lifers you can get.

Quote:
Has anyone else seen Red-bellies in brackish water before?


I believe with my limited experience with that species I have only seen them in brackish water. Either way they seem to thrive in it.


Sorry for the late reply, but thank you! I'm getting very close to having found all the salamanders in my area - three species left (just saw my first Northern Red). The rest I will have to travel south or west for.

Interesting note about the Red-bellieds. My dad just found a juvenile Snapper not far from there, also near brackish water. Did I just never notice these turtles before?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 30 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron