As much as I want to focus myself here, I cannot help but share some of the other creatures I come across.
The other day I went on a mid-day adventure with a friend to look for snakes.
Luckily for us, there are lots of places near campus to go exploring.
I got to catch my very first ring-neck snake, Diadophis punctatus! In fact, we saw four within half an hour. They are sickeningly adorable, and incredibly smooth to the touch. One of them half-heartedly tried biting me, they were all more concerned with slithering away. The temptation to bring one home as a pet was intense, but I resisted – I have enough snakes at home.
The other snake species we encountered was the eastern milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum. And this one was NOT happy to be bothered. It was snapping, and rattling its tail. I love that behavior, I wonder if it’s a general snake defense that got brought to an extreme with rattlesnakes, or if colubrids like this are trying to mimic rattlesnakes? I think the first idea is more likely, but I haven’t read into it very much. Either way, it is alarming to hear a tail rattling against dry leaves. My corn snake does that in his cardboard feeding box sometimes!
And we saw some amphibians too. Puddles filled with swarming toad tadpoles, as well as some adult Bufo americanus. Who can resist a grumpy toad face?A pretty Rana palustris (pickerel frog), just because.And you didn’t think I could wander into the woods and avoid the insects, did you?
We came across a wonderful little clearing with dappled sunlight. Along the rocks and logs I saw tiger beetles basking. My friend tried hunting them with his net, and I tried hunting them with my camera. This went on for about half an hour… my little camera did a decent job, and it helped I was able to find a few that were more intent on basking/resting than getting away from me. I quickly got a feel for their preferred habitats and resting spots, and we were able to see several more during our journey through the woods.Eventually we figured we should get back to the lab… there are plenty of adventures yet to be had.