A How-to on Proper Use of a Field Guide

Field guides are a gateway to understanding the natural world. Indeed, many herpers I know treasure their very first field guides that opened their eyes to the diversity around them, keeping its tattered remains up on a shelf next to newer editions as a memento. My first was copy Peterson’s “Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern […]

Hatchling snapping turtle moments after emerging from its nest in Shelburne VT - Photo by Patrick Perry

Snappers: The myth vs the turtle

“Yeah, I’m never swimming here again”. This is a common reaction from people upon seeing a particularly large Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in any body of water. I am beginning to lose count of how many people have expressed such sentiment to me over the years. As if on cue, as I began to…

Tripod Turtles

  Last month during a Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) survey I stumbled upon one of the most vibrantly colored turtles I have ever seen. Easily recognized by their brown shells, black heads, and distinctly orange necks and limbs, even the more drably-colored Wood Turtles are quite striking, but this particular animal really stood out to […]

Woodland clams are a thing!

How on earth did thousands of clams end up in a vernal pool that shares no connection with other bodies of water? Furthermore, how did they colonize thousands of vernal pools across the United States? Those are good questions, and ones that almost everyone asks immediately after learning many vernal pools are populated by something […]

Kingdom Mystery: Quest for the Blue-spotted Salamander

As a kid growing up at the south end of Lake Champlain, I spent many evenings fishing for perch down at the bay below my house. I’d picked up snake and frog wrangling as a side hobby pretty early on and by the time I was 8 or 9 thought I knew the name of […]

Egg Mass Identification in the Great Northern Forests

Spring Egg Mass Identification in the Great Northern Forests With winter concluding in Northern New England and already past farther south, amphibians in the northeast are migrating to their breeding habitat and beginning to lay eggs. Many of the species that breed in the early spring seek temporary bodies of water to lay their eggs, […]

Porcupines: Bark-eating Beasties of the Northern Woods

A few years ago a visitor from South Carolina told me they saw a beaver climbing a tree in the woods behind my house. As much as I’d love to believe arboreal beavers inhabit woodlands around my house in central Vermont, it was highly unlikely. North American porcupines, which are similar in size and shape […]

Mink Fogs: The Frog of the North

Ever since my first introduction to the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) of Vermont back in high school I was hooked. Boreal forests, sphagnum wetlands, carnivorous plants, bubbling brooks, and moose-infested swamps all drew me back to the NEK time after time. It’s an area where the air even smells nice in a gas station parking lot! […]

Beavers

While kayaking in a town wetland a couple months ago I noticed a slow-moving trail of bubbles ahead of me. As a herpetologist, I recognized the bubbles as a sign there was a Common Snapping Turtle walking through the debris at the wetland bottom, so I decided to follow the bubble trail toward shallower water […]

Eastern Newts

As the first face of the forest highlighted in this blog, I thought it prudent to introduce one of the most recognizable members of forested landscapes and one that ties together both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Most people reading this will have some familiarity with Eastern Newts (also called Red-spotted Newts), especially the terrestrial juveniles […]