Thursday, September 28, 2006

So, after kvetching about the high costs and low yields of the Pine Barrens, I headed in the opposite direction on my bicycle (yes, my bicycle! It costs no money to fuel and burns no fossil fuel, only calories). I steered for the steep streets of Manayunk and Roxborough, rumored home of an eastern milk snake (Lampropeltis t. triangulum) population.

I admit that I walked some of the steeper stretches, but I did get a lot of exercise, including while scaling some of the wooded cliff sections tucked in around the rowhouses.

Exercise was about all I did get on those cliff faces, that and a few nightcrawlers I took home for some of the pets. I wasn’t too discouraged, though. I hadn’t spent any money on the trip, it had only taken forty minutes to get there, and I had enjoyed the ride. No offense to the highways cutting through the suburbs of South Jersey or our car, but I’ll take riding on my bike along the Schuylkill on a sunny morning with the wind in my hair.

I caught the only live snake of the morning while I was walking my bike up Leverington near some row houses.

It was easy, since it crawled up off the street onto the sidewalk and headed directly towards my foot. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. It was a garter snake (Thamnophis s. sirtalis), sure, but I’ve never had a snake throw itself at me quite like that. I can only imagine what the snake must have been thinking. After a few minutes of looking at the street and weighing the odds of getting run over, it took off in a mad dash across the asphalt, made it onto the sidewalk, and, mere feet away from its target garden, ran right into a giant monster.

The family on the porch a few feet away was almost apologetic about it, but I assured them I enjoy having garter snakes come out of nowhere like that. They said they find “craploads” there, but don’t see any milk snakes. They let me take photos (with my backup film camera, so I don’t have the pictures right away) and pointed out a DOR a few feet away. We released the little feller in their garden, and I headed up past Ridge and Henry Avenues to a marshy area in the Wissahickon to gather more earthworms and find a couple two-lined salamanders (Eurycea bislineata).

Then I tore down Ridge Ave. and then along Kelly Drive bike path for a fabulous conclusion to the trip.

The air on Sunday (September 24th) morning was humid and the temperatures were in the high 70s.


2 garter snakes (1 DOR)
2 two-lined salamanders