Sunday, May 8, 2011

West Rock ho! (Part 1: Herps)

Wow, have I got a lot of things to share today! In fact, there are so many things that I've decided to split this up into two posts. Here's part one!

Paul and I took a trip today to Lake Wintergreen in West Rock State Park to walk around the lake and see what kinds of creatures we could find. This trip was actually pretty special for us in a sentimental way, since this is where we got engaged last year, and this was our last chance to visit it before we're married. (Oh yeah, that's coming up!) We both love Lake Wintergreen, mostly because it never fails to provide close encounters with frogs and snakes and turtles, and today was no exception.

This Green Frog was sitting on the edge of the lake, and we were able to sneak really close to it to take its picture. You can tell it's a Green Frog rather than a Bullfrog because it's got those two ridges running down its back (Bullfrogs don't have ridges like this -- they have creases that curve down behind their ears instead). I love that bright shade of green on this frog's face. :)

This medium-sized toad hopped across our path in the woods, and here it's doing a great job of blending in with its background. (Yay, camouflage!) We have two different species of toads living in Connecticut -- American Toads and Fowler's Toads -- and to be honest, I have no idea which species this is. You're supposed to be able to identify these toads by counting the number of "warts" inside individual black rings on their skin, but this little fellow doesn't have any of those black ring patterns that I've seen in pictures, so I'm a little stumped. American Toads are supposed to be more common, so that's probably what this is, but unless I find out otherwise, this will just have to be some sort of young unknown toad.

And speaking of toads, I'm pretty sure these are toad tadpoles filling the shallows of the lake:

See all that black stuff? Yep, that's all tiny tadpoles, and it was like this for yards along the shoreline. The little guys were wriggling and writhing, and hopefully finding some good things to eat to warrant this sort of crowding. It was quite a sight!

We almost walked right by this Northern Water Snake, basking on the banks of the lake and so well hidden in the grass:

What a beautiful creature, with those striking stripes across its mouth (and there's much more detail if you click on the picture to zoom in). I've never been this close to a water snake before, and this one was remarkably patient with us, with all the sneaking around and camera clicking (well, beeping really) that we were doing. Of course, then we took one step too many, and the snake was off like a shot into the water. (This next picture is courtesy of Paul.)

I love the pattern of ripples this snake makes when it swims. And the idea of snakes swimming still just sort of blows my mind.

But it wasn't all reptiles and amphibians at Lake Wintergreen today. Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of our West Rock adventure, where I'll post about all the non-herp things we saw: flowers and birds and other things as well!

1 comment:

  1. Love the snake - what tidbit did you offer it so that you got it to pose? ;-)