I get great satisfaction in showing folks new things. The area where I spend many of my summer weekends is rich in scenery and loaded with herpetofauna. Where the region lacks in diversity (compared to the south) it makes up for it with quantity.
I have hosted several NAFHA outings with my "kottage" serving as home base, the first in 2007. This has included herpers from as far away as Iowa, Rhode Island, Massachussetts, Virginia, New Jersey and New York. This group added to the list of exceptional herpers to pass through and as I was privileged to meet some for the first time face to face. Good times, there is always a memorable moment when herpers get together.
Tom, who lives 10 minutes from me, was first to arrive, with Andrea and Mike, making their 8 hour trek, dropping in soon after.
Obligatory first stop is a mountain stream that harbors quantities of Mountain Dusky Salamanders and Northern Spring Salamanders.
A misnomer, there are no rattlesnakes here...
Mike with a spring salamander
A walk up the hillside provided some Northern Slimy Salamanders and the resultant photo op.
As Mike would say, "Herpers gotta herp". Even on a steep hillside.
Andrea concentrating real hard not to look like Popeye.
The next site... and a large Ringneck.
Another target... a large Northern Red Salamander under a log on a sunny hillside.
Andrea and Tom teamed up for this Eastern Milk Snake grasp.
That night proved a little chilly, but peepers were still to be heard and photographed.
The next morning, others joined the fun. Bob Freguson (brick911) and his 3 kids. Steve Staedler and Alex Mason, bringing our total to 10 folks.
Here is the crew photographing my resident Northern Watersnake.... herpers gotta herp, despite my attempts at keeping folks from flipping stuff on my property.
The snake got its lick in...
Our route had been predetermined, but the weather has us reversing our destination for the morning.
Smooth Greens, Ringnecks Garters and Efts.
Steve flipped this nice ringneck
Bob's son Wes came up with this large spring salamander.
One man's common critter is another man's, or woman's lifer.
The triumphant couple.
The next stop gave us a great showing.
Despite 10 herpers milling around, flipping rocks and snapping photos, this large 6ft+ Eastern Ratsnake never budged.
Quite proud of the group getting in situ pics of this animal which was never disturbed.
Mike won for "best flip", uncovering a black rat, easterm milk and 3 eastern garters under one rock.
Other show stoppers here are its Timber Rattlesnakes.
Alex spotted the first one.
Steve and Andrea with a rather unattractive Eastern Milk that Mike thought was dead.
Bob and his kids looking for more milks but only finding ringnecks.
all while this young timber looked on...
The snake soon got a little nervous and retreat beneath his rock.
Content to watch others flip away with hopes of lifers and such, I soon succombed to the urged and flipped my own pair of Eastern Milks.
Time out for the photosession.
4 foot milk snake...
After a full day of herping, Bob's fearless kids undauntingly took to the 52 degree water while Mike thoughy better.
Day 2 ended with Bob and his kids heading home, Tom had departed earlier. Dave joined us for our third and final day.
Misty and cool are perfect ingredients for herping this area.
Andrea with her first solo green snake flip with Mike showing his approval.
Dave photgraphing Steve with his own lifer Smooth Green Snake
Mike with his 3 of a kind green flip.
Dave flipped this monster ( 18.5 inch) Northern Ringneck equalling the largest that I have
found in these parts.
Concluded our get together and headed back to the "Kottage"
The Chow Line...
My pleasure to host another successful meeting of some of the Northeast's finest herpers...
and, no worse for wear, my resident water snake was back on my steps a week later getting in some sun, no doubt still tasting Bob's son Nate's tasty fingers.
sans Dave Hughes