With the warmer than usual weather, flowers are blooming early, butterflies are fluttering, and reptiles and amphibs are making premature appearances.

I saw the first of the season northern water snake on February 25 (early by a few weeks) and several brown snakes crossing the path at different locations.


First of year n. water snake (2/25).
Brown snake flattens and coils in attempt at intimidation.

With the increased herpetological activity, our resident red-shouldered hawks have been on the hunt. Red shoulders eat frogs and snakes.

Red-shouldered hawk hunting frogs from log.
Pounce at movement.
Hawk looks down at feet but there’s nothing there but mud, leaves, and pine needles.

February 25 brought with it many basking yellow-bellied sliders. More interesting and remarkable was the eastern, or common, musk turtle that I saw from the Wetlands Overlook. And, it was reported to me that someone had spotted a common snapping turtle. Both musk and snapping turtles are typically seen for the first time each year towards the end of March, not February.

Early-rising musk turtle.

All of the above mentioned herps will be ducking back into the rocks, mud, or leaf litter as the temps are going to drop down to “normal” for the next several days. It was nice to see them, if only briefly.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.