One Last Snake Day
Now that spring migration is well and truly on I think I’m going to cut back on the herp blogging, especially is Noah is nowhere to be seen. Snakes are cool, but I find it increasingly difficult to give both birds and herps my full attention at the same time when I’m out in the field. Case in point, Noah and I went on a special snake trip to Falls Lake. There’s a trail at one of the lake access points where enterprising Eagle Scouts have left out a series of cover boards that are predictably good for small snakes, which is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for when I had Noah with me. Our trips afield had turned up nothing but venomous snakes, and I sure don’t feel good about letting him handle one of those.
So as we stepped out on to the trail my ears were ringing with Yellow-throated Warblers and Red-eyed Vireos and the raspy calls of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and I know I should have stopped to pick out anything different but I had a toddler with me, who was walking a fine line between adamantly wanting to find snakes and adamantly wanting to go home, which are two positions that can be held simultaneously only in the brain of a toddler. When we started flipping covers, though, he was all in. And the second board to go over had one of these little beauties.
A Ringneck Snake, a cute little worm-eater, and a perfect snake to introduce Noah to the wonders of snake-handling. He was not quite ready for that on this day, and he was happy just to pet the snake before urging me to “put it back in its home”. I was happy to oblige for each of the five Ringnecks we found over the morning.
My favorite discovery was a pair of young Mole Kingsnakes. Neither were nearly as big as the monster I found in Orange County a couple weeks ago, but what they lacked in size they made up in beauty, both were far more boldly marked than the prior, older, snake.
We found two of the more common herps in the area too in a pair of Five-lined Skinks and some smallish American Toads. For Noah’s part, he though the toads peeing on me upon capture was a highlight of the morning. One of the more exciting finds for me was a strange little frog tucked into the crevice of an old wood block. When I flipped it, out tumbled an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad, a first for me and one of the strangest creatures I’d ever seen.
By this point Noah was getting restless. He had walked, by himself, nearly a half mile with me. And while we had plenty of cover boards to look forward to on the way out, they were known entities on the way back. So to head off the toddler blues we hightailed it to a nearby playground where I watched a pair of perfect first of year Forster’s Terns diving in the nearby lake and cursed the fact that I’d left my long lens at home. I won’t make that mistake again.
See, I worked some birds in there too.