Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm stubborn this time of year about going out and seeing rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus). Partly this is because it's a great time to see baby rattlers (cute!), partly because the temperatures are falling and we know that reptile time is almost over. I might be snorkeling for turtles, but August and September's repeated soakings have kept our waters high and murky.

Last Sunday I went back to the site of timbers in the mist, and (to kill any suspense) I found pretty much nothing. This was one of those trips where I cover a LOT of ground, way down a ridge, and then working back, up and down the slope. If there had been a lot of rattlers out, I am confident I would have seen them (since I always assume I see at most half the rattlers that are out, maybe I missed a few).

Back at where in June I had chilled out on a talus slope above a basking timber, I found a shed skin. Here are some shots of the shed.

Here is a shot of that snake from June (from the other side of the slope; I photographed the shed from just on the other side of where the snake was sitting in this shot).

Now, here is a shot of the outcropping where I had seen three all piled up in June...

...and where I had seen the two hanging out in the fog a few weeks ago...

...and here a different angle:

There was no way I could photograph the enormity of this cliff from the base of the slope. A jumble of furniture-sized slabs preceded the cliff as I hiked up to the first of a series of fifteen foot rock faces. I would have needed to back up a hundred yards or so, but that would have put a hundred yards of forest between me and the base of the cliff, making for a shot basically of trees with a little rock poking through.

Did I try to climb it? Of course I did! With the angel on my shoulder shouting loudly into my ear about how bad an idea this was, I tried to reach the first ledge up. I small slip later and a glance down at the multi-ton slabs scattered below convinced me to give up and keep hiking.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I have been taking a few longer exercise rides to work lately, heading out the West River Drive to the Falls Bridge and back in to Center City (rather than straight east from W. Philly to Center City). For the non-Philadelphians reading this, this means riding out along the Schuylkill River and back the other side. Almost every day I've done this lately, the Schuylkill River has been high and muddy or the skies have been cool and cloudy, poor conditions for turtle basking, especially at 8:30 in the morning. Still, this morning I saw a few of them squeezed onto a small log remaining on the east bank by the Falls Bridge (no camera). I wanted to catch them. I want to catch them. But the river is still murky for my taste, and I doubt the rain this weekend will help.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'd like to lodge a weather complaint. Of course I'll need to get behind everyone else, the people whose lives have been upended by the floods Upstate. I'm content to take my deservedly distant place in line, but I am still frustrated by the rainy weather and the rivers and streams running like chocolate milk. For a guy obsessed with finding turtles, particularly turtles in the water, this has been frustrating stuff to work with.

Here's a picture of the tidal portion of the Schuylkill from last weekend.

Even now, a week later, the Schuylkill and the Delaware are way above their mean and median flow for this time of year.

I found no herps on that outing but from the 34th St. Bridge I did engage this hawk in a staring contest.