Sunday, September 2, 2007

Long Island Herps and Birds

For the week of August 12th, Shawn and I kicked back and relaxed at his Long Island home. We had planned on heading to the Jersey Pine Barrens for herping with friends, but those plans got cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. (See this fieldherpforum thread, where they found just about everything we wanted to see). Shawn's Monk Parakeet, Roger, was delighted to have us as company for longer:

Our first birding venture was out to Brooklyn. We stopped to see the Western [Little] Reef-Heron [-Egret], Egretta [garzetta] gularis, which is still sporatically occuring in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and nearby Jersey. We didn't find it, so we headed over to Jamaica Bay to look for shorebird migrants and terns. Pickings were slim in terms of the rare terns and shorebirds, but there were plenty of the more common Forster's Terns (and a few Least), as well as Semipalmated Plover and some peeps.

A trip out East with Shawn's friends Drew and Trudy, to Dune Road, Ponquogue, and nearby locations, yielded much of the same.

Of course I had to stop and play with the Green and Spider Crabs in the retreating tide.

After this bit of birding, we carried on with the part of our failed herping plans that involved Long Island. We headed out to visit Brookhaven National Lab, which Shawn has contacts with. We were able to get visitor's passes and a tour of some of the good Pine Barrens habitat, which is known to contain NYS rarities like Tiger Sallies and Hognose Snakes. On the way there, we stopped at a pond and had fun ID'ing various variable Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta):

We also found several Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta), a different subspecies than back at home (Midland Painted Turtle, C. p. marginata). In Midland, the central scutes along the carapace are alternating with the two outer rows, whereas in Eastern the scutes line up across the carapace.

This big one swam over to a log where a very small Painted and Slider were basking innocently...

and rose out of the water to reveal A GLOWING NUCLEAR ORANGE MONSTROSITY!!

Well, I'm exaggerating a little, but it was extremely brightly colored...

We also turned up this Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus):

At Brookhaven, we ended up having very little time to herp, but we turned up great species, three lifers in quick succession:

Fowler's Toad (Bufo fowleri)

Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus)

Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum)

After this herping adventure, we rested at Shawn's uncle's house in the Barrens, among a bounty of orchids, houseplants, chickens, and his neighbor's guineafowl:

Of particular notice among the plants, was this Passionflower (Passiflora) vine in bloom:

After this week of rest and relaxed herping and birding, Shawn and I headed back to Ithaca to face the new school year.


  1. Nice opacum. Congrats on the lifers!

  2. Thanks - it was a great, last-minute find :)

  3. If you ever read this, can you please let me know the location of that pond full of sliders? Cold Spring Harbor, perhaps?
    Chas Peterson
    BioCCP (at)