Time to Catch Up: Late Spring 2018

May rolled around intriguingly quickly in 2018. But it brought some incredible herping moments with it! 

My first herp adventure was right on May 1st, where I went on a search for Ontario's endangered Spotted Turtle with a close friend of mine. Though we didn't find our target this time around, we did see an extremely red-coloured Eastern Garter Snake, and a lovely Snapping Turtle.

Eastern Gartersnake


A few other trips in early May to a couple of local gold mines produced many breeding frog species, and some basking snakes along a creek! The highlights were a particularly pretty American Toad, an in-situ Northern Water Snake, and a handful of endangered Queen Snakes.

American Toad

Northern Watersnake

Queensnake

By the second week of May, I had began working as an intern at Ontario Nature. I was desperately excited because they were hoping to use my herp knowledge and enthusiasm in surveys for species of reptiles and amphibians across Ontario. And it didn't disappoint. Right away, I was off looking for incredible species. 

In just the first week of work, I was able to survey for Spotted Turtles, Small-mouth Salamanders, Blue Racers, and Eastern Fox Snakes. And I found multiple of all species. Least to say, I was head over heels. And this first week is really what kick-started my future and current work with Blue Racers today!

Spotted Turtle

Blue Racer

Small-mouthed Complex Salamander

Eastern Foxsnake

Poking around home again, I found a few more species that I hadn't yet seen in the year. A few early gravid Northern Red-bellied Snakes, and several ponds worth of breeding Gray Treefrogs.

Northern Red-bellied Snake

Grey Treefrog

One of my favourite highlights of 2018 was going out with a friend to help them on their research with an amazing species of turtle... The legendary Wood Turtle. These species are extremely endangered in Ontario, and this site is heavily monitored to protect it from poaching and any other damage that may come to the population. 

During a survey, we were able to find several individuals, with the help of a Conservation Officer and his gorgeous chocolate lab who was better at finding the turtles than any of us.

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle

After almost a full month of busy work, I went on a short trip with friends to the island of 'beautiful sun'... Beausoleil. Not only is the sunshine amazing, there are some pretty incredible herps too. We got to see many different species of snakes, frogs, salamanders, and turtles. And it was an amazing time camping with friends.

Some highlights were a young Musk Turtle and over a dozen Eastern Massasaugas.

Musk Turtle

Eastern Massasauga

On a bit of a roll with finding herp 'targets' during my trips, I decided to set out to see a few species I had never seen before, and never thought I would. I went looking for the dusky salamanders of Ontario. They are only known from a few small seeps in the Niagara Gorge.

The terrain was tough, and so was the heat. I struck out on the Northern Dusky Salamanders, but after hours and hours of searching, I got lucky and found one, very dark, Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander! What a thrill!

*disclaimer: looking back, I would not visit and search for these salamanders any more unless doing research or assigned surveys. The habitat is too easily damaged. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO SEE THEM. They are common in the states across the border, or in Quebec. Go look for them there and lets keep our tiny at-risk populations safe.*

Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander

Back to herp work! Early June in the Frontenac Arch area was full of Rat Snakes, one of my favourite species. Almost all individuals I saw were on the roads, but thankfully they were all alive!

Gray Ratsnake - Frontenac

Gray Ratsnake - Frontenac

While completing other work down in Norfolk County in early June, I was able to pop over to help release some endangered Carolinian Gray Rat Snakes for another research project, and then did some herping with a friend from that project. In addition to observing the Rat Snakes, we saw a few Eastern Hognose Snakes, and a couple of Eastern Foxsnakes.

Gray Ratsnake - Norfolk County

Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern Foxsnake

Eastern Foxsnake

Eastern Foxsnake

One more trip down to Pelee Island in early June yielded another Blue Racer to cap off my early spring herp highlights. This was the first Blue Racer I ever processed, one I will not soon forget!

Blue Racer

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