Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I know the rhythms of snakes; I am still learning the rhythms of babies.

This past weekend we were up in Providence at my sister's place for Passover. Of course this meant that I wasn't available to hit marsh territory on a spectacular weekend, but that didn't mean I couldn't do any herping.

On Saturday I went for a walk with Magnolia. I had her strapped to my chest in a baby carrier, and for the most part she slept as I walked down to the Swan Point Cemetery near my sister's house. Readers of this blog will know how much I adore the wooded fringes of cemeteries, and Swan Point has some nice woods along the stone fence (we might call that a 'wall' in the Delaware Valley) along Blackstone Blvd.

I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt and attribute my success to my experience and herping acumen (no luck involved at all); I looked at the piece of asphalt on the side of an old debris pile mostly buried in leaf litter - the first piece of cover I tried - and I knew there would be something under it.

Sure enough there was a ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus) soaking up the sun's heat via the warm asphalt.

Magnolia was not quite as impressed as I was. The process of bending over woke her from her very important nap and she let out a shrill, aggrieved cry to let me know how she felt about it. The snake shot off before I could grab it (of course to convince Magnolia that the smell of musk would completely validate the disturbance), and I dedicated the next minute to staying upright and getting her to calm down.

Of course I tried it again, and I found two red back salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) under a neighboring chunk. Again Magnolia did not appreciate the discovery as much as I did. This time I took my photos (all these with my phone - please excuse the crappy quality) and gave up to continue our walk/nap.