Maybe it’s because I never really looked before, but I was extremely surprised to find my first salamander of the year on January 3rd! I was participating in the Sugarloaf Mountain Christmas Bird Count near Frederick, MD when I found an Eastern Redback Salamander (Plethodon cinereous) beneath a rock along a small creek!
Welcome to Maryland!
Since we learned we would be moving to Maryland back in May, I’ve been planning for all the potential life animals that awaited me. There won’t be many new birds for me in Maryland unless I take to the sea (first pelagic, weather permitting, will be in February out of Lewes, Delaware!), so I thought I would focus on fish and herps.
I haven’t spent too much time chasing fish in the two plus months we’ve lived here. I tried to see what I could turn up at Lake Frank in Montgomery Co., Maryland (Bluegill and Largemouth Bass), but I haven’t taken the time to go microfishing. Part of that is probably because my micro rod broke before we moved and I haven’t gotten around to ordering the replacement part!
So, with no new birds and no new fish on the horizon I have focused my attention to herps. Unfortunately, it has been incredibly dry here this summer. I’ve flipped literally hundreds of rocks and logs in great looking deciduous forest habitat with nary a snake or lizard to show for my work.
I have lucked into a few species while just walking around. Mostly Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) and a couple Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina), plus a Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) that was too fast for Owen to glimpse.
|Owen was the first to spy this Eastern Box Turtle! His first self-found herp!|
Since the woods have been dry, I recently started focusing heavily on nearby streams. An outing to a drainage with Owen just 1/4 mile from our home paid off on Labor Day weekend. We found about a dozen Northern Green Frogs, a few Eastern American Toads, a pair of Northern Watersnakes (, and my first Northern Two-lined Salamanders (Eurcyea bislineata bislineata) in over six years!
|Owen was willing to pet the first Northern Green Frog we caught. After that he just wanted to see them hop.|
|Owen really wanted to see a salamander because it took us a long time to catch one, but he didn’t want to touch it.|
|We ended up seeing four Northern Two-lined Salamanders, but we only caught this one.|
|We found a pair of Northern Watersnakes. Owen is not a huge snake fan (yet).|
|When you see them in their habitat the color pattern really makes sense!|
While looking for salamanders I also found one of our most noxious caterpillars, the Saddleback Slug Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea). Owen was very good about not touching it, and I brought it home to get some photographs. It was about 1/2″ long; it would be scary if these things were bigger!
|If I had touched this guy there’s a good chance I would have instantly regretted it.|
We also visited our friends over Labor Day weekend, and they happen tohave a creek in their backyard! We found more Northern Two-lined Salamanders and a Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris)!
|One of at least seven Pickerel Frogs at our friends’ house.|
|These Northern Two-lined Salamanders are everywhere I look for them!|
|Another Northern Two-lined Salamander, this time from 20 September.|
|I’m sure this creek has a name, but I don’t have a clue what it is. The number of crayfish found in the creek makes me think I might find a Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata) in the area someday.
|See those yellow eyes? That eliminates Mud Salamander, leaving me with my lifer Eastern Red Salamander!|
|I imagine only a couple of these 97 Eastern Red Salamander (presumed) eggs will make it to the adult stage.|
|Northern Two-lined Salamanders do not like to sit still.|
|Once the Northern Dusky Salamander calmed down it was extremely cooperative.|
|A deceptively handsome little guy (or girl).|