Friday, May 4, 2012

Many Bright Creatures in Two Gray Days, Part 1: Herps

Today and yesterday have been the grayest days we've had in a while, with persistent low clouds and intermittent showers. "Soggy" would probably be the best descriptor, actually. But I've been itching to get out into the woods, so imperfect as the weather was, I spent most of my mornings both today and yesterday in the meadows of Naugatuck State Forest. And I have to say, despite the squelching shoes and the occasional need to protect my camera from rain with a plastic bag, I had just the best time. The was so much to see! In fact, I saw too many things, so this is going to have to be two posts. First up: Herps!

I hadn't even reached the parking area this morning when I got a surprise:

Nooo, turtle, don't try to cross the road! I did carry him or her the rest of the way across (and got a hiss for my troubles), but I had to stop and say "hi" first. OMG, Box Turtle!

I really have no idea how it's possible that I've been wandering the woods in Connecticut for years now, and yet this is the first Eastern Box Turtle I've seen here. I don't think they're especially rare, although they are listed as a species of special concern in Connecticut and apparently populations are slowly declining. Oh, you beautiful creature with your fearsome face. Don't glare at me; I'm trying to help you!

I love the golden star-bursts on this turtle's shell:

With those bright orange markings, you'd think these turtles would be hard to overlook in a brown forest background, but I actually think this creature blends in fairly well -- maybe that's how I've managed to miss seeing these creatures for so long:

The Box Turtle was a wonderfully exciting creature to get to meet! And speaking of bright orange herps, Red Efts were everywhere in this lovely damp weather. Again, you wouldn't think these juvenile Red-spotted Newts would be good at camouflage, but I found myself having to watch my step very carefully to make sure I didn't accidentally squash one of these little guys in my path:

I had to stop and admire every one of the several efts I came across. They're such wonderful little creatures. (And so photogenic!)

I lifted a log by the path to see if anyone was hiding there, and found a dainty Red-backed Salamander, who was probably also thoroughly enjoying the damp weather:

And this Wood Frog leaped across my path and landed, perfectly still, on a dead leaf:

I could practically hear it muttering, "I'm a leaf, just a leaf. Can you see me?" Yes, little frog, but I'm not going to eat you, I promise.

When I moved on, it hopped away again, just another leaf on the forest floor:

So many awesome creatures, and this is just the beginning! Stay tuned for more forest findings -- birds and flowers! -- on these two soggy days.


  1. Great photos of some wonderful critters!

  2. What treasures! Now that I can id red-backed salamanders, I long to see an eft - it's such an interesting name. Great photos!