We don’t have any poisonous snakes here on Cape Cod but we do have snakes of various sizes and kinds, including the garter snake, ribbon snake, black racer, hog nosed snake and ring necked snake to name some of them.
Late summer is the time to see baby snakes and right now they are everywhere. You have to look fast and in the right places because these little guys know how to move it and how to hide.
Ring necked snakes are small even as adults but the babies are just teensy. Check out this little guy in a hand. Ring necked snakes like to hide under old boards and in rock walls and grow to be a little over a foot long.
Baby black racers don’t look like the adults though they still have the white chin. They are more mottled looking. These hatch from eggs in late August and can be found in fields, gardens or woodland areas. They are super fast.
Baby garter snakes are born live and can be seen in gardens, around ponds, stone walls and other places where they can feed on insects and worms. This little snake is of the maritime species, quite common here on the Cape. Note that it does not have the stripes often associated with garter snakes.Check out this hyper little guy trying to get out of the bucket. If left unwatched it would have succeeded, too! All these snakes were caught by naturalists who knew what they were doing and how to handle them. They were shown to children and discussed and then let go.
Please leave baby snakes where you find them. They are difficult to feed and care for correctly and they belong in the wild.
If you’ve been out and about at all over the last few weeks you probably are well aware that turtles are on the move. Whether turtles live in the sea, the marsh, the pond or the woods, they all seek warm sand on land to lay their eggs.
Although sea turtles come here to feed they do not lay eggs on the Cape but we have plenty of other egg laying turtles. Only one of them lives in the marsh and that is the diamondback terrapin. These turtles are almost never seen on land, spending most of their time in bays, inlets in marshes and other such places. You are far more likely to see them when out kayaking in a marsh than walking along a trail at the beach.
I was out with a group of Sandy Neck Junior Rangers this past week and we went looking for turtle tracks. They are hard to see, both in the photo and in real life but once you know what to look for, they are easy to recognize. Note the little bit of drag in the middle….that is from the shell.
We then spotted the tiny turtle…
This was a baby diamondback terrapin that was recently hatched but from eggs laid last year, not this year.
We eventually found the tracks of other baby diamondback terrapins as well as another en route to the marsh. If you find baby turtles on the move at this time of year, please let them keep on walking. Don’t pick them up and “help” them by taking them to the water. Walking strengthens little legs so they will be able to swim when they get there. Also, baby box turtles should never be taken to water for they are land turtles and can’t swim! You should also be aware that it is illegal in the state of Massachusetts to take baby turtles or any wild turtles home to keep as pets.
This last photo gives you a good idea of how tiny that little turtle was–it is in a child’s hand! We respectfully put this little one back where it had been but not before all the kids got to peek at it up close. So keep your eyes open, it’s a turtle time of year out there!
If you follow or subscribe to my blog you may have been bombarded with calendar posts this afternoon due to my ineptitude while posting events on a calendar on my Upcoming Classes page….
Spam horrifies and annoys me and I apologize profusely if you were annoyed or inconvenienced. I have since dealt with problem and hopefully it will never happen again.
Wow, the last few months have just flown by me and I have been remiss about posting here. If you’re on Facebook, that is where I am every day with new pictures, latest sightings, etc. but I will try to be better about posting here for those of you are not Facebook sort of folks….
It’s hard to believe there’s still snow on the ground but it sure has been cold out there! There is even still snow at the beach…
and for those of you keeping track of the birds you see this year, this Iceland Gull at Craigville Beach is very accommodating and easy to see in the parking lot there…
Stay warm out there!
Please consider supporting me and my team as we raise funds for the Coastal Waterbird Program housed at the Long Pasture Sanctuary in Cummaquid. The event begins tonight at 6 p.m. and ends tomorrow at 6 p.m. but you can donate any time in the next week.
You can donate through my First Giving page online or send a check to Coastal Waterbirds (please note my name, Mary Richmond, in a note, not on the check) to Long Pasture Sanctuary, Box 235, Cummaquid MA 02637
And here’s a quick video of a common yellow throat I spotted at Long Pasture just this morning!
Although technically I spotted my first mayflowers in March today I saw them blooming everywhere. Mayflowers are the state flower of Massachusetts and they are a quiet little blossom that many people probably walk right by.
Usually you find them in patches along the sunny side of a trail. They like rather poor growing conditions and are often half buried by winter’s twigs and leaves…in the picture below the mayflowers are in the middle of the frame..
They don’t look like much, do they? But get down close to them and they are lovely and elegant and they smell wonderful…
Their leaves are often tattered and brown looking but you can often find new leaves forming, too. The leaves are tough and sort of hairy feeling. The blossoms are somewhat waxy and able to survive the changing weather that often marks our springs.
Also called trailing arbutus, mayflowers almost always bloom in April, which somehow amuses me. Maybe they bloom in May in other places but usually by May the blossoms here are gone.
You can find mayflowers in many of the Cape woodlands, especially those that have ponds –which is most of our woodlands.
While looking for mayflowers take note of the little Canada mayflower leaves that are beginning to poke up through the pine needles. Also, watch for the red unfurling leaves of sarsparilla, one of my favorite and most whimsical spring woodland flowers.
This is such a great time of year to get out and about–migrating birds are arriving almost daily, toads are trilling and everywhere you look new life seems to be opening up.
Do keep watch for ticks if you hit a woodland trail–they are everywhere already.
What a day! I spent the day with one of my daughters and a good friend heading down Cape to Provincetown. We hoped to see some whales but were generally happy to get out and about in Provincetown before the crowds hit.
It was much nicer there than we anticipated–the weather forecast had been iffy but when we got there it was pretty sunny. Later we would get clouds but the sun was nice.
Race Point was picture perfect and in the distance we saw hundreds of northern gannets diving and fishing. We even saw an Iceland gull fly by quite lazily. No pictures of these as my lens doesn’t really go that far.
Nice view though, huh?
The tide was very low and the flats went on forever into the horizon from our viewpoint on the edge of the breakwater.
This fellow and his dog were taking a leisurely meander across the sand…
Which seemed like a reasonable response to the circumstances.
Later, when we returned to Race Point we were treated to a fun show of multiple humpback whales spouting, feeding and slapping their flukes before diving. One pair seemed to be a mother and calf but from the distance it was hard to be sure, even with good binoculars. Yes, or no, it was still a spectacular show out there.
It was a great day to be in Provincetown, that’s for sure. If you go, be aware that much of Commercial St. is torn up and being worked on and walking down the street is trickier than usual. Maybe it will be done soon.
is always better than a day at the office, don’t you think? I am very lucky because in many ways the beach, the woods, the ponds and the fields are my offices. They are the places i gather inspiration for my writing and for my art. They are where I work the best.
I love seeing the opreys on their nests
and watching a mockingbird search for food, singing all the while…
I love finding shells that look like the bleached out skeletons they really are….
and I love finding the washed up egg cases of whelks that look like twisted backbones along the high tide wrack…
And I love seeing the little piping plovers running in and out of the quiet waves as the tide recedes…
yep, a day at the beach sure beats a day inside an office….
We really, really can’t complain too loudly about the month of March this year….It was so mild for so long that the little bit of cold, wind and sogginess that we are experiencing this week is nothing but a reminder of what March is usually like.
Yesterday, in fact, I found my first blooming mayflowers, trailing arbutus, in the woods. Technically, my young grandsons found them
and this morning, to counter the dark and dank day full of drizzle I brought a few daffodils inside to paint, to brighten up the day.
You can find this painting on display with many other botanical watercolors at my Mary Richmond Design Etsy Shop.
It’s no secret that it’s been an early spring but as I was out and about this week I took some pictures to share…
Skunk cabbage is easy to find around most wetlands and it is way ahead of itself this year…and it has the funkiest flowers.
And the red maples are starting to bloom, always one of my favorites…
Here’s a closeup of the lovely, delicate flowers…
and of course there are plenty of these still in bloom…click on the link to see a very short video…
I am still learning how to use this new site so thanks for bearing with me