1.24.2010

Saturday Afternoon Finds

Saturday afternoon found us wandering in the woods, peering into hollow trees, rolling fallen logs and prowling along the edges of pools, both permanent and temporary. My colleague from work, Scranton, was along. It is seldom that he and I have a day off together and Treebeard and I were pleased that he came by to visit and go exploring.

 
Scranton checking out the interior of a very nice beech tree. We usually find a squirrel or two in this tree - no one was home yesterday though.

 
Treebeard spotted this box turtle shell just off the trail. Strange, we were on this trail last Sunday and neither of us saw this bright bit of white then...

 
Posted by Picasa
I found evidence that some critter -- most likely a raccoon -- had been dining well on crayfish. There were a number of claws and carapaces scattered about on the forest floor.

 
We rolled a number of logs and found a variety of little beings camped out beneath them. The eight-legged critter pictured above is a species of harvestman, Vonones ornata. We also found a variety of beetles, beetle larvae, dormant grasshoppers, slugs and snails.

 
Posted by Picasa
But, without a doubt, our favorite finds of the day were the salamanders we found. The 'mander pictured above is a marbled salamander, Ambystoma opacum. It was just one of the twenty-one of this species that we found. We also found several Atlantic coast slimy salamanders, Plethodon cholrobryonis, and an Eastern red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus.

We made sure that each log we rolled was returned to its original position before we left. If you're gonna pull the roof off of something's house, it's only right to put it back the way you found it.

8 comments:

Tom said...

We have scattered pops of marbled sallys in Ohio, like up near Lake Erie on the lake plain, then way down on the illinois till plain in SW Ohio, but I've yet to see one in person. Very cool

Tom

Woodswalker said...

That is one big beech tree! And those are some way cool finds! I'm afraid if I disturbed sleeping critters under logs up here in the frozen north, I might kill them. I've read that the bodily fluids of some insects get supercooled and will suddenly turn to ice if disturbed. Is that true?

sweet bay said...

21 species of salamander -- wow. I frequently find the Marbled Salamanders around my garden. They are beautiful.

swamp4me said...

Tom,
We generally see one or two marbleds out and about in January -- but I've never before had a year when I saw 21 on the same day! It was very exciting ;)

Woodswalker,
Critters up your way have to deal with weather that is significantly colder for a much longer period of time than we experience down here. I don't believe I'd roll a log up your way. As for the super-cooled insects, I don't know. I have never read anything about it but the insects I've handled in the winter have never seemed the worse for the experience.

sweet bay,
We found 21 individuals of one species - the marbled salamanders. Had we found 21 different species you would have had to come down here and revive me 'cause I would have fainted :)

jason said...

Wow! It sounds like it was indeed a good salamander day.

And that is one impressive beech tree.

swamp4me said...

jason,
It was indeed an awesome salamander day. And you're right, that beech tree is pretty impressive.

Ellen Rathbone said...

Oooo - nice samalander! I've never seen a marbled, but I'd sure love to. What a beauty. And that cotton mouth - another herp I've never seen. Very cool...no doubt cooler at a distance.

swamp4me said...

ellen,
The salamanders were a great treat -- we usually only see one or two marbled salamanders a year. Cottonmouths are very cool snakes. They have a bad rep that is mostly unearned ;)