Sunday, March 3, 2013

That which does not freeze us solid makes us stronger... 3-2-2013

February sucked here. No herps. Snow every weekend. Blech.

There has been a ton of rain of late, melting the snow and raising our hopes. There are thoughts of Spotted Salamander migration dancing in our heads. Friends in states to the south have been finding some amphibians. We decided on a hike around our favorite pond in Norfolk County for some exercise, if nothing else.

Temps in the low 40s- our expectations were low, but our spirits were high as we headed towards a vernal pond in which we'd seen Spotted eggs before. But it was still frozen pretty solid...

In fact, the pond was still frozen solid... it seems we had arrived a couple of weeks early at that...

But we were here for a hike, so we continued around the pond. Time to start getting our legs into shape for the warmer weather.

This is us just past the halfway mark...

Surprisingly, the far side of the pond is the side that gets more sun! (I'd have thought it would have been the dam area...) There was less snow and ice over there... and flipping a piece of bark, we found a herp!!! A massive Redback Salamander!
Perhaps this guy will eventually grow into his head!

Elated, we carried on... herp warriors that had just conquered the world by finding a 3/4 inch long Plethodon!!!!

And then, Andrea found another wee one!

Then, we started finding a few more!! Twelve Redbacks (one of them being a leadback) total!

Not bad!!

On the last leg of the journey, we came upon the fresh streams that had given us Two-Lined Salamanders and Pickerel frogs recently. I was rooting around in the water and got latched onto by the only animal that gives me the skeeves... a LEECH!
A haven't had one on me since I was a child and I got grossed out! I could feel his teeth ripping into my flesh, syphoning my sweet red life's blood out into its greedy maw with annelid glee... draining me... killing me.

So, I pulled it off and we carried on toward another stream. We got lucky(ish) this time. I saw a 2-Lined larvae, but the lil fella was too fast for me and got away. I really wanted to try out our new "observation tank" for photographing them!

Andrea found another and, after some chasing, I scooped up a fistful of sludge and he was in it. As I tried to maneuver myself towards the tank, my foot slipped and most of me went into the muck. BUT, I safely got him in for these wonderful photographs!
Even a belly shot!

So, the tank works beautifully and we had a great 3 hour+ walk and saw 14 (photographed 13) herps on this winter morn!

It's so tough waiting for the warm weather... thank goodness for our native salamanders!


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah- I broke it today scuttling under a fallen branch...