South bay, California redwood forests

pete

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I had the opportunity to explore the caudates of the redwood forests of the south bay. I have done a number of herping in the north and east bay prior. This trip I had hoped to stumble across a terrestrial adult Dicamptodon (I only ever found larvae in the north bay) or find a Black Salamander Aneides flavipunctatus .

Actually, I took two trips to the same place, but for the first trip (5 days ago) another guy was photographing, so I don't have the photos yet. All we really found that time were a bunch of Ensatinas, and a lot of them. Curiously, it was often 2 Ensatinas under each log. I didn't see any eggs, though. I went back today and headed downstream this time. It was very cold and foggy. The fog made all of my habitat pictures come out blurry because I couldn't use my flash. Shown very nicely below in the "without/with" flash photo. Redwood forests can be quite dark and this one was. Lighting was a real challenge on this trip. Photography in general was tough, because my hands were freezing and slow to respond, and everything was moist, so debris was sticking to everything.


Unfortunately, I didn't find any of the caudates I had hoped to, but I did find a bunch of caudates and the patternings were quite different than those I found in the north or east bay. Generally these guys were all more speckled than I was used to seeing. Most were under debris near the streams. I wandered to higher elevations where the forest was more recently logged contained more Douglas fir trees, but there I found no caudates there. So here were the finds.

A few Slenders, One was notably more speckled than I'm used to seeing, but as a whole they seemed darker in overall color, too.






This guy fell out of a rotting log that I turned. It didn't want to uncoil. It looked like a very warm pose in the chilly forest.


A pair that I didn't disturb too much for photographing in case they were in the middle of making more salamanders.


There was only one ensatina this time, and unfortunately I didn't get any great photos.


I found one Aneides. I suspect is an arboreal, but it was much smaller, thinner and more speckled than I was used to seeing.



The feet and tail on these guys are pretty cool.


I also found these two tiny guys in close proximity that were hardly 2 inches (5 cm), had disporportionately large heads and lots of speckles. Initially, I thought they were young Ensatinas because of the orange legs, however I've never seen such a speckled ensatina. And none of the dozen ensatinas we found a few days earlier were speckled like this, although they were all clear adults. Now, I'm wondering if maybe they were baby Aneides, maybe someone more experienced can make a more definative ID (Where's Rust?).

Salamander 1




Salamander 2


And finally, to spin it in a caudate fashion. I found some Dicamptodon food. The famous banana slug. This guy was about 6 inches (15 cm) long.

 

Azhael

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Great pics, it´s always lovely to see field reports :) specially since this year i doubt i´ll have a chance to go herping myself......
The babies, to my completely unexpert eyes look like Ensatina....perhaps as in many other species the heavy speckling of the juvies fades away when they mature?
 

rust

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Nice thread. Good luck with the adult Dicomps, they can be rather problematic. Flavs are rather spotty, though common in the south bay, try looking closer to the stream edges. The juvies are Ensatina for sure.

RUSS
 

pete

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Nice thread. Good luck with the adult Dicomps, they can be rather problematic. Flavs are rather spotty, though common in the south bay, try looking closer to the stream edges. The juvies are Ensatina for sure.

RUSS
Thanks, I know the giants are a hard find. I've only ever seen the larvae when I wasn't looking (picnics and such). I still keep my hopes up. Thanks for the Flav advice. I'll keep looking, maybe a different park next time. Looking at the little guys again today, I agree there Ensatina.
 

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Thanks, I know the giants are a hard find. I've only ever seen the larvae when I wasn't looking (picnics and such). I still keep my hopes up.
Nice pics! Ensatina are so darned cute!

I took a herpetology course as an undergrad at UC Davis and part of the class was a field trip up to the CA/OR border to go herping. We'd had pretty good success (but not good enough - we were apparently competing with Berkeley for 'most species found' and we were behind). We got to a certain spot and the professor stopped and pointed to a particular rock, telling us to make sure someone checked under it. We did (of course) and underneath was a huge adult Dicamptodon. This guy must have been a foot and a half or so in length (or maybe I'm just remembering it wrong because I was smaller back then ;)), and he was heavy. Apparently, the professor had been coming to this spot every year, and every year that salamander was in the same spot. He even had a name for him, but I can't remember it now.

Anyway, that was the only adult Dicamptodon I've seen despite many more herping trips to the NW. I hope he's still under his rock.
 

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Lovely photos! You guys are lucky having so many beautiful indigenous species.
 

fishkeeper

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Check the POTM...I saw something quite similar in Sonoma County. I also assumed baby Ensatina. Anyone breed them in captivity and observe the speckles?
 

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Great pictures! Nice to see some California natives up in here. I remember finding these little critters while doing coastal camping when I was a kid. They are getting harder and harder to find.
 

pete

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I was back at this same place this past Saturday. It's just the start of the rainy season here. A variety of mushrooms were starting to sprout with the increased humidity. Things were not too wet yet, but temperatures were cool and the fog was thickening during the evening we were there. It was definitely moist on the surface, but it was still very dry under the logs. The only caudates I could find were Ensatina. And there were a lot of them. Mostly adults, but I did find one tiny young one. It's funny how the caudates are seasonal.

I just wanted to post some pics, including a the variety of mushrooms we encountered, a few of the other critters in the environment (The majority of which were the centipedes), and some of the Ensatinas.
 

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jake96

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Check the POTM...I saw something quite similar in Sonoma County. I also assumed baby Ensatina. Anyone breed them in captivity and observe the speckles?
I live in sonoma county and when ever i am out herping during november/ december i always find a bunch of these juvies with the spots. Sadly they are getting harder to find. But i think my female is pregnate this year, so fingers crossed.
 

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I currently do a lot of field herping, when you come across, do you usually find them in pairs or groups? Thats usually how I find them(arboreal sallies) when I flip over rocks and peices of logs. I'm able to find plenty of salamanders even in December, it makes herping in the winter really worth it. I'm able to find ensatina as well.
 
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jamminnewt

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I wish I lived farther north! I live in the Los Angeles area and we certainly don't have much natural area to herp in- let alone moist caudate area. I have found caudates in NorCal twice. One was a juvenile in a small puddle left from a drying stream. He still had his external gills and was almost clear. Only about 2-3 inches long. I have no idea what he was. I hope he morphed before his little pond dried up. The other one I found in a stream after flipping a few rocks.

I can't wait to go back up and look with my new herpetology book. :)
 
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