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Note:  Please do not use my identifications below (especially of the amphibians–I am *not* a herpetologist) as some sort of official authority (I would think this is common sense anyhow) since I generally don’t carry a field guide with me on our outings, I am relying on pictures and memory (which are often not that great, lol)!

This is probably  a gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) or the closely related Cope’s gray tree frog (Hyla chrysoscelis).  Both frogs look pretty much the same, but have different calls and different genetics–Cope’s gray tree frog is diploid (2 sets of chromosomes) while the gray tree frog is tetraploid (4 sets of chromosomes).  It is thought that the gray tree frog diverged from the Cope’s gray tree frog in the last ice age.  Their coloration is variable, as they have the ability to change color to blend in with their surroundings, similarly (though not as fast or as dramatically) to a chameleon.  They congregate around ponds and temporary pools in May-June to mate.

We found a field FULL of them (near a giant temporary pool at Oak Grove Park in Chesapeake, Virginia in early June.  It *is* also possible that it could be a northern spring peeper (I am in no way an expert on amphibians or Virginia native species), but they congregate to mate in March and are distinguished by a large X type of marking on the back, and none of these frogs had that distinguishing feature.

These are  either five lined skinks or broad-headed skinks (or one of each?), they are part of a group of several species that look very similar and are difficult for the untrained observer to identify (and from a distance, for even the trained observer to be sure of their identification).  The one in the leaf litter (with the blue tail) is a juvenile male, the stripe pattern and color fades with age, while the skink on the tree is an adult, though I’m not entirely sure if it is male or female.

We found both of these lizards at Chesapeake City park in mid-June.

This is a snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina),which the kids had a BLAST watching, and followed downstream as it swam, once it got back into the creek.  We found it, as well as the following, which I suspect is either a Fowler’s toad (Bufo fowleri) or an American toad (Bufo americanus).

We found both of these at the Chesapeake Arboretum in late June.

This is a female Atlantic blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), which you can tell by her “painted” red tipped claws (males claws are blue, matching the rest of their coloration) and her “apron” (the flipped out part at the back), which also indicates from her back that she is carrying eggs (when we flipped her over, she had what looked like a orangey sponge attached to her abdomen, which is her egg mass).  Mature females (called a “sook”) that aren’t carrying eggs will have their apron folded up into their abdomen. Immature females (called a “sally” or she-crab) have a more triangular and less rounded apron folded up into their abdomen, while the male crab (called a “jimmy”) has a t-shaped apron.  We found this crab washed up on shore (we also found a male further up the beach), and both were already dead.  It is illegal to have sooks in one’s possession,  which are on their way to spawn.