This past week I got to spend two beautiful days alone out in the field. The beauty of being alone is that you can go at your own speed and enjoy nature as you go. Tuesday was the best day of the bunch. Unfortunately it was one of those days were photo opportunaties didn't quite work out. I spent the morning searching for salamanders, turtles, and other herps. Things were going relatively normal until I decided to walk back to the car along the edge of the pond. It had recently rained and I was surprised to have not seen any spotted salamander eggs, especially since my co-worker had found an adult on the shore the past week. Then bam, I spotted an egg mass and then another and another (see horrible pic above...all those clumps are egg masses). Then I spotted a pile of egg masses. They looked freshly laid since they hadn't had a chance to absorb water and grow so big. The pile of egg masses looked like coral. Then I shifted my focus under the water and I saw at least three big adult salamanders running/swimming like hell away from the pile. I grabbed one and it was the skirmiest, biggest, and slipperiest salamander I ever held. My snake stick was in the other hand so I had to handle it with only one hand. I battled my way back to shore, but I eventually lost the battle and the salamander dropped out of my hand and into the water. Mind you when I had first spotted the first egg mass I was at capacity with the boots. I had about an inch from the water line to the top of my boots. Well that all went to hell and one foot got quite wet and my arm sleeve was drenched once the commotion started. I tried to go back and get another salamander but the water had become so clouded and the salamanders were wise to the invasive giant.
Other morning highlights was seeing a spotted turtle, a painted turtle, and hearing a pickerel frog call. The the lowlight of this site was getting a deer tick biting into my belly. That would be two deer ticks bites this year and from this same site! Thankfully I seem to be ok.
The afternoon I headed to another site, which was part of a state park. It had beautiful woods and a nice stream. Also there were two old structures along the stream, which I imagine were used to keep food cold....or something like that. I also found an old homestead and piles of junk. All of this was again time suckers.
When I had first stepped foot on the site, I noticed what appeared to be porcupine poop. I also noticed this action on a tree, which was right next to some old bear poop. So I was on medium alert for some bear action. I'm pretty sure this is gnawing from either squirrels or porcupine. I guess they like birch beer as well.