on the first day to actually feel like fall I decided to see what I could find after class. I figured the cold temperatures would send most snakes underground but I soon flipped a beautiful Red-Bellied Snake. Pressing on I soon found a Blue-Spotted Salamander while collecting moss for my own salamanders and a small Spring Peeper, the first one I've seen in that spot.
On the last day of summer I went on a short walk to one of my usual places for snakes but before I even got there I found what I thought was a Red-Bellied Snake that had been run over by a bike. As I moved closer however it moved so I picked it up to see if I could get some decent photos with my iPod. It was clearly in distress and curled its lip upwards, a defensive behaviour I had not seen before. I released him shortly after in the direction he was headed and watched as he dispeared into the tall grass. A few meters up I came across yet another Red-Bellied Snake which looked flattened against the ground leading my to suspect that this one was run over but sure enough it moved and I managed to get some good shots of it. The second snake had such a beautiful patters with a series of black stripes running down its grey body. Once I got to where I usually find the snakes I found no such thing under cover I suppose they are all out and about this afternoon.
While in the woods between class I went to a wetland where I have found Blue-Spotted Salamander larvae in the spring and thought I would be able to find metamorphs. Sure enough I didn't have to go far before I found two small metamorphs and before I knew it I was surrounded by White-Tailed Deer, one large female and two juveniles. They seemed more curious of what I was more then anything and simply watched me watching then.
After class I headed own to one of my favourite snake spots and managed to find a Garter Snake on my first flip. I headed deeper into the woods where I collected some moss that I would microwave to disinfect it and use it for my salamander tanks. I also managed to find six Blue-Spotted Salamanders all under different pieces of cover and all recently metamorphed.
This morning I searched everywhere for my camera charger only to find I accidently left it in Prescott so I had to ration the photos I take with my camera and take the majority with my iPod to conserve my camera's power. After class today I went out on a hike down one of the trails not far from campus only to find a naked old man laying in some grass reading a book. I quickly left and instead found a recently metamorphed Blue-Spotted Salamander under some tin and a Red-Bellied Snake under a large rock. I then met up with my housemate before we headed to another area that I know is suppose to have snakes and other wildlife. We flipped a bunch of rocks and managed to find a massive Garter Snake in shed followed by three Eastern Milksnakes, one of which likely one of the individuals I found last time. We headed into the woods where we stumbled upon another Blue-Spotted Salamander that recently metamorphed and many different species of mushroom.
Between classes I decided to go on a hike around Trent's woodlands. One spot in particular is where the proposed hockey arena is suppose to be built. The area for the arena is right next to a wetland home to a number of endangered and threatened species although by having the city pay for part of the construction, Trent rids its hands of having to do any environmental assessment. In this wetland I have found two Blue-Spotted Salamanders that have recently went through metamorphosis evidence that they are breeding in this fragile wetland. Heading further in and further from the wetland I also found a large Garter Snake in shed and had the most fowl musk of any snake I've ever held. Under some rocks I also found three Eastern Milksnake in a spot where I would normally find Red-Bellied Snakes leading me to suspect that the Red-Bellied Snakes are being predated upon by the MilkSnakes. All photos were taken on my iPod as I need to get into the habit of taking my camera whenever I go to class.
After class I decided to go on a short walk to my spot for Red-Bellied Snakes. I did not find any however I did manage to flip a young Blue-Spotted Salamander that recently went through metamorphosis from its larval stage. Not far from the salamander I managed to find an Eastern Milksnake that seemed rather docile while I was holding it. When I went to release it however it went to bite me a few times. The individual I found had a rather unusual pattern on its head for a Milksnake as most have a triangle shape on their head which the species name; triangulum refers to. The individual found had a more spotted pattern on the top of its head.
For this herping trip we stayed in Prescott and traveled to different locations each day. On the first day it was cold and rainy so we went looking for salamanders as many reptiles wouldn't be out in such conditions. We went to a place that I had been before however at that time we did not know about the small ponds there down a different path we had not previously ventured. The Red-Spotted Newts were of a neotenic population meaning that while most newt larvae metamorphosis into a land dwelling animal, these newts instead metamorphosis into an aquatic adult. We found a few larvae at this spot by dip netting and found a Leopard Frog and a few Green Frogs by the water's edge. The next spot for the day was at a river in the middle of a town. Under some rocks by this river we managed to find a Northern Two-Lined Salamander, rare for such an urban area. Finally the last place we checked on the first day was in the woods on an unmarked path on the side of the road. Under the first log we found a handful of Blue-Spotted Salamanders that had recently metamorphed. The second day was much warmer and sunnier so we headed out looking for my lifer; the Eastern Musk Turtle. We headed to one spot that was by a lake that is known to have Musk Turtles. On the way there however we unfortunately found two large adult Grey Ratsnakes had been hit by cars. Likely recent they must have come out onto the warm pavement to bask only to be run over and killed instantly. We did however find a small Snapping Turtle that started to musk as soon as we attempted to move it to the other side of the road. Once we got to the location we found no sign of Musk Turtles in the spots they regularly frequent but did manage to find some unusual looking snails and a half dozen Pickerel Frogs. We walked along the water's edge until we came to a Beaver lodge. Moving in the water was what I first though was a small Painted Turtle because of the lines around the head but as it continued to swim through the many logs of the lodge it was clear it was an Eastern Musk Turtle. It had unfortunately swam away before I could get a photo. We watched that water hoping to find another but after much time had passed something did move under the logs, I thought it was just a fish but Clinton had seen it and it was another Musk Turtle. We waited for some time after that but found nothing. This was an exciting find for me as it was my lifer but sadly I was not able to capture any photographs of it, this just means I have to go herping again to try to find this species as risk.
While visiting my grandmother in Cameron for a few nights I went on a long day long hike where I encountered a variety of reptile and amphibian species along with many birds and insects. I also may have rediscovered the Red-Bellied Snake, a species not seen in the area since 1932.
The Toronto Zoo does not seem like the place to go herping and find wildlife however it is positioned right in the Rouge River which offers a treasure trove of wildlife. At the Toronto Zoo they have a number of wetlands, one close to the Australia pavilion exhibits a number of wild bird along with some Green Frogs. Another wetland within the Canadian Domain at the zoo is home to a number of frogs and Painted Turtles. Within the zoo Grey Treefrogs can also be found especially this time of year when the froglets are out moving to new areas. The one froglet we found appeared to be unusually thin and had a deformed mouth which may have caused the frog issues when it came to catching food.
I'm Mac Marzolini and I created this blog for a variety of reasons, the first of course is to open a window into what is happening in my life (cause my grandmother reads this), but also to help myself catalogue some of my favorite photos from my many adventures.