Giving Thanks for Southern Herping

Jefferson

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As some of you know, I am now situated in the Western part of Virginia, where I am attending college. Thus, with eleven new species on the year and only three more required to break my all-time record for most sally lifers in a year, I decided to go down to south Middle Tennessee to meet up with a fellow herper and chase some stuff on the Cumberland Plateau. On the 21st, I drove down to TN along the beautiful I-81 corridor to old bluegrass tunes and got to my motel in time to watch my native Michigan State Spartans pull the upset on Ohio State. Anyway, for herps: day one, I and my fellow herper (and her dog, who is an apt salamandering companion) headed toward Chattanooga and hit some tucked-away ravine habitat, where a wet rock face yielded lifer #1: Cumberland Dusky Salamander, Desmognathus abditus. These duskies have an un-keeled tail, which distinguishes them from Spotted Duskies. Other notable finds at the spot were Northern Zigzag and some Two-Lined. Down in Georgia later that day, a trip into a well-traversed cave (which was nearly 20 degrees warmer than outside) failed to turn up any Pigeon Mountain Salamanders, as did all the woods, but my herping companion got her first finds in Georgia out of that leg off the jaunt (Cave, Slimy, Dusky).

That night, whilst I slept in my motel room, the low temperature hit 22 Fahrenheit, so I had little optimism about the next day's herping (especially being from Michigan, where everything goes underground by Halloween), but, magnificently, as the day warmed and we drove from a failed Red sally spot to a vernal pool complex, one log in a drainage area yielded: Marbled, Two-Lined, and a brilliantly-colored Midland Mud Salamander adult! (lifer #2) I was so fired up when I flipped that log (well, we both flipped it simultaneously)! Our final two spots yielded, after an exhaustive search and nearly getting lost on the way back to my Jeep: Spotted, Marbled, Mole (lifer #3), and a bunch of Eastern Red-spotted Newts.

Thus, I have broken my record for most new species in a calendar year (14), and the trip marks the first lifers in Tennessee since 2013 for me! The file size of the pictures is too large to post, but they are available on naherp.com.

Happy herping!
 

Jefferson

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Well, my computer seems to have made the executive decision that the files are now small enough to post despite its statements to the contrary yesterday. It appears as if I can put up the pictures for you all. Enjoy!
 

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Aneides Aeneus

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Looks like you did really well, especially given the season! The cumberland dusky is a neat find (of which I have only seen one despite three attempts to find them), but the triple-flip just blew me away! Finding a midland mud salamander alone is a great find, but finding one with two other salamander species is phenomenal! I find it very interesting that the mud salamander and the two-lined salamander were next to a vernal pond - was there a small stream or seep nearby?

-Ananth
 

Jefferson

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Thank you for the kind words, and, yes, the Midland Muddie was found along an intermittent seepage area that drained one of the vernal pools.
 
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