Decided to stay local today and check out Kingfisher, which in years gone by was somewhat of a "migrant trap". Sorry, not today. There were however abundant herps, including 3 Eastern Garters, all female judging from their girth and 20+ inch lengths. Painters and Sliders aplenty, as well as a Snapper.
The real treat, though, was my first encounter with an Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis sicula campestris), a bolt of green that amazed me by combining a lightning fast gait with equally incredible leaps over downed branches to evade me. With patience (and by creating a strategic disturbance) I got the creature to creep out of hiding for photos. Oddly, Seth Wollney was just telling me on Friday that he had seen one in Richmontown last week. Legend has it they were released, either accidentally or purposely, by a pet shop owner in West Hempstead in 1967, and have spread around the buroughs with human assistance. I did a little checking on line, but did not come up with any tale, either "legend" or factual, to explain their Staten Island introduction, although there are numerous photos. If anyone has any backstory, I would be interested to know. In their home turf around the Mediterranean, studies have shown that these lizards evolve rapidly in isolation. It would be an interesting study to find out just how unique our own population is becoming.
- Dave E.