bruce and i left cambridge around 10:30 to go to rocky woods in medfield to do a bit of naturing. this was the first time this year we've gone out together to see some wildlife. bruce lamented how in years past we'd go naturing even in the dead of winter (e.g. seeing the harlequin ducks at halibut point). i'd picked rocky woods because it's become a bit of a tradition for me to visit the large uncharted vernal pool there to do some live newt spotting. normally i'd get there via the back roads on my motorcycle, which takes about an hour. but since bruce had volunteered to drive, we arrived in medfield via I-95 south, which shaved 20 minutes from our trip. bruce brought along his new canon powershot camera, the one i recommended he should buy. the weather seemed like it'd be cold (temperature in the 50's when we left) but walking in the sun, it easily felt like the 60's and warmer.

there wasn't much to see, since the leaves haven't even come out yet on the trees yet and nor any significant new vegetation other than the evergreens. we did find a few early spring butterflies, an eastern pine elfin, a mourning cloak. there were also an abundance of light violet/blue spring azures, which seemingly were unafraid of us, fluttering around, tempting us with their colorful wings which were impossible to photograph since they were always flying (and closed their wings whenever they landed).

on echo pond we saw a few ubiquitous painted turtles sunning themselves on rocks and logs. on the eastern stretch of the wilson swamp trail we spotted what appeared to be a garter snake, but it looked like a baby because the body was so slender and the head was so small, even though it was about 2 feet long. turns out it was actually an eastern ribbon snake, a close relative of the more common garter snake.

the only interesting vegetation were some ferns on whale rock, a polypody and an intermediate woodfern (evergreen). we hardly saw any birds, although we did hear a few singing, though clueless as to what kind of birds they were. we spotted a curious chickadee and on our way to and from the reservation we could see from the highway red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures flying in the air.

when we finally arrived at wilson swamp trail, we bushwhacked into the forest looking for the unmarked vernal pool. we came across a swampy stream but the pool was nowhere to be seen. as we made our way back onto the trail, we paused for a tick check. just a few minutes of bushwhacking left us with about a dozen ticks each. i knew the forest was full of ticks this time of year so i was prepared to find them, but the sheer numbers was a bit scary ("a bit re-tick-ulous"). we walked down a little bit further along the trail and finally saw the pool this time. we bushwhacked again to the edge of the water, removing a few more ticks when we got there.

we didn't see any newts at first, but stare into the vernal pool long enough and soon your patience will be rewarded. bruce was the first to see one, and then we noticed they were everywhere, darting to and fro between the submerged leaf debris. there were a lot of smaller newts this time around, and we even saw one that was still red, a former eft.

when we finally decided to leave, bruce discovered that the wilson swamp trail actually comes within a few yard of the vernal pool, and that we really didn't need to do all that bushwhacking to get there (good to know for future reference). we followed the trail along the eastern border of rocky woods, making our way southwards to the parking lot. while we were walking, i felt two tiny bumps through my shirt and discovered two ticks with their heads buried into my chest. i pulled them out, making sure i didn't accidently detach any tick body parts.

we stopped off at a westwood gas station convenience store to get some cold drinks. driving off, i noticed something blurry on my glasses which turned out to be a tick. i also found another tick on my shirt sleeve. the first thing i did when i got back home was head into the bathroom and strip off all my clothes to do a thorough tick check. i found two more ticks crawling on my forearm. all in all, i think i must've gotten more than 2 dozen ticks today, a new record, and one that i hope won't be repeated anytime soon.

i just had a banana for breakfast before i left to go naturing. after i came back, i took a shower and had some sao bing bread with some pickled radish for a late lunch. i did two loads of laundry, taking the opportunity to wash all my clothes from today in case there were anymore ticks. i went to star market in the early evening to buy some strawberries but they weren't on sale anymore. instead i grabbed a pint of vanilla bean häagen-dazs. for dinner i fixed up noodles with some homemade meat sauce my grandmother made for me (that my aunt brought back from california last week but it's been just sitting in my fridge). i watched reaper (CW), followed by fringe (FOX), then cupid (ABC).