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Old 16th November 2008   #1
John
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Default Ouachita Mountains, USA - Nov 08

Nate Nelson, his friend Scott, and I went on a camping trip to the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma and Arkansas 10 days ago. It was my first true camping trip and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the company. We saw quite a few species of amphibian and reptile, and I must give many thanks to Nate and Scott because they were the ones who found 99% of what we saw. I certainly learned a lot about field herping in the process. So here is what we saw.

In our campground we found this Dwarf American Toad (Bufo americanus charlesmithi) who called like a fiend. I nearly stepped on him while I was paying my campsite fees but Nate saved him. I'm a sucker for toads and I was very tempted to take him home with me.

Click the image to open in full size.

We also found this leopard frog:

Click the image to open in full size.

On the first day we travelled to the Caddo Mountains in Arkansas and in a small forest pond the guys came up with about 3 species of Ranid tadpoles and these Central Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens louisanensis):

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Not long after that we found a stream which yielded several species of salamander:

Plethodon albagula, Western Slimy Salamander:

Click the image to open in full size.

Eurycea multiplicata, Many-Ribbed Salamander:

Click the image to open in full size.

Desmognathus brimleyorum, Ouachita Dusky Salamander:

Click the image to open in full size.

And Nate found several Desmognathus brimleyorum larvae:

Click the image to open in full size.

That night we travelled to a damp Rich Mountain in Arkansas and found all of the target species (and more):

Plethodon ouachitae, Rich Mountain Salamander, Rich Mountain Phase:

Click the image to open in full size.

Plethodon serratus, Southern Redback:

Click the image to open in full size.

Eagle-eyed Scott spotted this Gray Treefrog on a rock on top of the mountain:

Click the image to open in full size.

After we retired for the night it rained quite heavily and the temperature dropped quite a bit. The next morning as we were about to leave Rich Mountain to check out some woodland in Oklahoma, we found a Three Toed Box Turtle crossing the highway (sorry no photo from me). We then drove to southeastern Oklahoma to visit a pond we knew to contain Sirens. Just as we were about to give up on Sirens, Nate netted this guy (who now lives with me thanks to my OK fishing license):

Siren intermedia nettingi, Lesser Siren:

Click the image to open in full size.

We then drove into the nearby woods. While the guys dove into the trees I spotted this fellow and took a few photos:

Northern? Cricket Frog, Acris crepitans:

Click the image to open in full size.

The guys found a Sequoyah Slimy Salamander, Plethodon sequyoah:

Click the image to open in full size.

And a bunch of Spotted Salamanders, Ambystoma maculatum:

Click the image to open in full size.

And some beautiful Marbled Salamanders, Ambystoma opacum:

Click the image to open in full size.

They even found a terrestrial Central Newt, Notophthalmus viridescens louisanensis:

Click the image to open in full size.

As we were leaving these woods we passed some swampland and this Water Moccasin / Cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus, crossing the road:

Click the image to open in full size.

In a slightly different part of the same forest we found a stunning Pickerel Frog, Rana palustris (sadly I didn't get to photograph it).

As the light faded we drove north towards Winding Stair Mountain. Before we got there we tried to find Kiamichi Slimy Salamanders and Ambystoma annulatum but we only came up with more Plethodon serratus.

Later that evening we reached Winding Stair Mountain, which yielded more Redbacks and these:

Plethodon ouachitae, Winding Stair Phase:

Click the image to open in full size.

Eurycea multiplicata, Many-Ribbed Salamander (Nate informs me that this is a yet to be split species/subpecies, and to my eye it is very different to the animal we found in the Caddo Mountains):

Click the image to open in full size.

So that was the end of the trip for me because I had to drive to Kansas City for that weekend. Nate and Scott herped their way home and found Ambystoma annulatum, as well as Ozark Zigzags and Grotto Salamanders. Hopefully they can add photos to this thread.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks to Nate and Scott for having me along.

-John



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Last edited by John; 17th May 2009 at 08:16. Reason: One of the Plethodon albagula was actually P. sequoyah.
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Old 16th November 2008   #2
Jacob Bidinger
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

That second E.multiplicata is beautiful! It looks like it was a good time. Thanks for sharing, John.



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Old 16th November 2008   #3
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

That's an exceptional cricket frog photo, John. I'll add that I don't think either Scott nor myself were taking anymore photos from that point on, so I don't think there's anything to add really. I'll go through my shots this evening and see what jumps out.

The Ouachitas never disappoint!



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Old 16th November 2008   #4
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Nice watching for those who stay stuck at home. New photo equipment ?



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Old 16th November 2008   #5
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Great photos John! Thanks for sharing. Looks like some winners for next year's calendar competition.



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Old 16th November 2008   #6
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

a wonderful collection of photos.. <3 The cricket frog and marbled are by far my favorite.



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Old 16th November 2008   #7
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Ugh. I'm so Jealous! Great photos- I loved seeing the variation in those maculatum.



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Old 16th November 2008   #8
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Great post John. Looks like fun.



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Old 16th November 2008   #9
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Amazing photos. Thanks so much for posting them. I know where my next backpacking trip will be:)

Christina



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Old 16th November 2008   #10
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Great photos, thanks for sharing. I'm so jealous, in Australia we don't get to see anything like that in their natural environment!!



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Old 17th November 2008   #11
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

I like the comparison of the N. v. louisanensis that were found in a pond versus dry land. The skin texture is quite different, and it shows that the adults are quite adaptable to living in water or on land.



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Old 17th November 2008   #12
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. To Juraj - I've replaced my D80 with a D90 but quite honestly the image quality is almost the same (the 2 megapixel difference is almost imperceivable). Had I known this before selling my D80, I would have kept it. The D90 gives two main advances over the D80: active d-lighting and live view (active d-lighting can be helpful for photographs of dark subjects on bright backgrounds, and live view allows composition without looking through the viewfinder). Frankly though, since I have been shooting exclusively in RAW since 2004, the image quality appears nearly identical to me.

On the subject of the Ouachitas, I fully intend returning at least once in the Spring.

Addendum for Leonard: I took nearly 400 photos over those 2 days so there are plenty of possible Calendar entries . However I am certain the competition will be tough next year, going on the improvement in entry quality we saw this year.



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Old 17th November 2008   #13
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Very nice, John, looks like you had a good time! Great shot of the siren, I can't get enough of those guys. That multiplicata is really cool looking, too. Eurycea are such a cool group. Hopefully you'll find even more in the Spring!



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Old 17th November 2008   #14
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Great post, great photos! I especially liked the shot of the Desmognathus brimleyorum larva because of how it clearly shows the small gills.

Mike



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Old 17th November 2008   #15
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

The Eurycea "multiplicata" found in the Ouachitas are split into two well defined groups from east to west, so the first E. multiplicata shot from the Caddo Mtns. in AR is due to be described as new species and the second animal from Winding Stair in OK will most likely remain E. multiplicata.

Returning to the Ouachitas: I'll be there again in early spring...probably the first week of April.



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Old 17th November 2008   #16
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

My eyes....my beautiful eyeeeees...!!! xD Brilliant as always.
I particularly liked the louisianensis too, you rarely see those guys, and the comparison between land/water phase was nice.
Thanx for a great post, really apreciated :)



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Old 17th November 2008   #17
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

A nice haul, fellas. I'm green with envy!



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Old 18th November 2008   #18
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Looks like you guys had a whale of a time. Seeing your post makes me want to travel out west for a week.

Later,
Justin



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Old 18th November 2008   #19
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Arrow Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

well done, there's a lot of different species there..



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Old 19th November 2008   #20
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Default Re: Ouachita Mountains, Nov 08

Makes me miss being an Okie, sometimes.



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