We poked along the shallow creekbed, lifting up flat stones to see what might be home. Before too long we turned up some of the usual critters for this type of habitat - Longtailed and Twolined salamanders, and a Ringneck snake or two.
Also in evidence were fair numbers of fishing spiders, probably Dolomedes tenebrosus and D. vittatus species. These are large arachnids, several inches across and today they were hidden under flat rocks. One female tenebrosus guarded a large egg sac she carried under her abdomen. I'm interested in spiders, especially the ones I don't need magnification to observe!
When I last visited this spot back in July, the creek banks were populated with large numbers of just morphed small toadlets, perhaps the size of my pinky fingernail. Now, two months later, the surviving members of that horde were out and about, now the size of my thumbnail. If I come back in two more months I may be able to find a small number of larger toads, winners in the next round of the survivor's lottery.
Moving along I popped the day's first Queen snake, a fair-sized adult. Tracey was pleased, this being a lifer for him - during a previous visit, high waters prevented him from seeing one. With Queen snakes, it seems the older they get, the uglier they are; dull, drab, and mud-coated, scarred and stub-tailed from a hard life in the creekbed. Fortunately it wasn't too long before we turned up a neonate Regina, with clear, crisp colors and contrasts.
The next herp we turned up was an adult Pickerel frog under a stone. A number of the Pickerels in this area look a bit dull, lacking some of the sharp contrasts seen in palustris from other regions. This frog had chosen a stone with a nice large cavity underneath and a wide opening on the side, perfect for hiding from predators and watching for the next bug to pass by. Aside from the ever-present Cricket frog, the next amphibian we found was a Green frog, although this specimen's only claim to green lay along the upper lip.
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