A lot of precipitation fell last weekend, and it was over 60°F yesterday, so I decided to try my luck with salamanders this morning. I know it’s a little early in the season (and there’s still snow on the ground!) but I had some hopes that Spotted Salamanders, or maybe even Jefferson Salamanders, would be heading towards the fishless ponds. I struck out with both of those species, but ended up having a pretty good day overall.
It took me longer than I expected to reach my target creek/seep because I stopped at a fishless pond to search for Ambystoma coming to breed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much cover and I didn’t find anything in the cover I flipped. The pond was completely frozen over all the way to the shoreline. Right before the mouth of the seep I encountered a really nice hillside that I intend on revisiting in a few months.
This was my first visit to this creek/seep, and it was much smaller than I was expecting.
After about 20 minutes of finding nothing, I finally flipped a rock that held a salamander! It was a nice, plump Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus fuscus). The water was pretty chilly, so this individual was pretty torpid and allowed me to take a few photographs before I replaced the rock and guided the salamander back to where I found it.
I found a tiny Northern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea bislineata) near the Dusky Salamander, but I didn’t bother trying to get a photo (there will be plenty of opportunities when it warms up later this year).
As I continued along I started flipping rocks that weren’t necessarily in the wet parts of the drainage. I was hoping I might luck into an Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereous) or a Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinous).
I ended up finding quite a few Eastern Red-backed Salamanders, and some of them were awfully tiny.
As I moved up the creek I found a lot of really great habitat that I can’t wait to come back to in another 6 weeks or so.
On my way back to the car I lucked into a single rock that was hiding five or six Eastern Red-backed Salamanders and five Pickerel Frogs (Lithobates palustris)!
For a late February morning, I’m pretty pleased with the day’s results:
- Northern Dusky Salamander – 4 (3 adults, 1 larval)
- Northern Two-lined Salamander – 1
- Eastern Red-backed Salamander – 15
- Northern Red Salamander – 1 (larval)
- Green Frog – 2
- Pickerel Frog – 5