The First Herps of the Year

sde

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Well, a little over an hour ago I finish the first successful road hunting of the year. It yielded four female Ambystoma gracile, two of which appeared to be gravid. I was only on the road for less than an hour, and searched a 1.2 mile stretch of road twice, so not too bad of a result for the first successful hunt of the year. Here are the pictures. Notice that in some of them they secreted a bit of poison.
I will also add a picture of the very first herp of the year, found on January 5th, a Plethodon vehiculum.
Sorry for the bad photo quality, taking pictures of moving salamanders in the dark and rain while holding a flashlight in your mouth ( so I can hold the camera still with both hands ) is harder than it sounds xD

Good luck to all you herpers in the 2015 spring migration! -Seth
 

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sde

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This morning I found the first Taricha granulosa of the year! Two females, nice and fat, probably gravid.

1st female:

The daunting task ahead.....
( though I do help them across, I can't find them all )

Belly shot.

Second female, this one was quite a bit larger than the first.

Belly shot


That'll do for this thread, thanks for looking!
 
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Cliygh and Mia

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That is just awesome! I can't wait until me and my dad go to line creek to look for newts and salamanders!:D
 

Stupot1610

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How big do Taricha Granulosa grow, Seth?
I'm sure I read on a facebook group recently that someone had a 25cm one.

Stuart
 

AdvythAF

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Nice finds! I am going herping this season and hopefully I will find some T. granulosa
The Ambystoma look cool; we don't really get them down here where I live.
 

sde

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That is just awesome! I can't wait until me and my dad go to line creek to look for newts and salamanders!:D
Thanks for the compliments, and good luck!

How big do Taricha Granulosa grow, Seth?
I'm sure I read on a facebook group recently that someone had a 25cm one.

Stuart
25 cm is pushing the limit, if any T. granulosa got that large it would have to be a monstrous male with a expanded breeding tail. But still, 77/8 inches ( 20 cm ) seems to be the max from my readings.
Their size around here varies quite a bit. Some females will be around 11.5 cm, while others are close to 13.5 cm. The males are typically larger, usually around 13.9 cm, sometimes closer to 15 cm. However you do occasionally find those really small males that are only 12 cm or so, I found one yesterday actually, first male of the year. Those really small males and females could just be young, first time breeders that haven't fully grown, though. Hard to say.

Nice finds! I am going herping this season and hopefully I will find some T. granulosa
The Ambystoma look cool; we don't really get them down here where I live.
Thanks!
Go a bit north of where you are and you will be in Taricha heaven, three species of Taricha reside up there ( T. granulosa, T. torosa, T. rivularis ). The A. gracile are even further north, unfortunately. However A. californiense is right around your area.
 

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Seth, do you have a headlight, would that help? Nice pics anyway :) I'll still have to wait at least a month, probably two or more, but this year I'll try to find some Triturus vulgaris. That's the only species living here (talking about newts), I'd like to see them again.
 

sde

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Seth, do you have a headlight, would that help? Nice pics anyway :) I'll still have to wait at least a month, probably two or more, but this year I'll try to find some Triturus vulgaris. That's the only species living here (talking about newts), I'd like to see them again.
Ah yes, I suppose I do have a headlamp, I will have to find that, thanks for the suggestion.
Good luck in your search for T. vulgaris! ( They are a fantastic species, I think )

Great pictures
Thanks, mate!
 

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Hi Seth!
I'm curious, Where are you going to observe these awesome little creatures I've been doing some hiking here in Whatcom county, Wa. I would like to get some photos of these guys in their natural habitat.
I ask, because I joined a local Herp group here in Whatcom county, Wa last fall. Who go hiking in certain ares and count the newts, salamanders frogs and toads, plus counting and identifying the eggs we see. We started the hunt two weeks ago. It's been really fun, but sad at the same time, I realize it's still early, but it has also been warm too. From what I've been told, Over the years, because of farming and building, the populations have been dwindling. In Ferndale, Tennant Lake is about dead because of farming pollution. The fish are almost gone, even the red winged black birds have left, along with the yellow finches. I'm one of those 35 year old, Old farts that likes bird watching. ;-). Actually, I'm a nature watcher. If it'll sit still long enough, I'm gonna photograph it :). Anyways, Ever since I got Baby Sinclair (Taricha granulosa) last year, I've been wanting to learn more about her and her natural habitat. I've been taking the kids out on rainy days with the group to do the counts, but about all we've accomplished is an accumulation of muddy laundry with only a couple sightings. I'd like the kids to see something before they get bored with the idea and give up on it all together. I'm hoping this will be a way to get them to care about the environment and the impacts of pollution. Because honestly, I used to love Tennant Lake as a child, and it's just not the same any more. It's quiet, has been for a couple years now, but I dint know why. It literally makes me want to cry, and it's not that I want the kids to be sad and cry, but I want them to care about it as much as the rest of us :). Know what I mean?

The kids love Sinclair, but I need them to realize she is a wild animal, not just a family member (if it lives in my house, it's family - except the spiders. :)). They need to understand that what we do as people, affects everything. I'm even on the hunt to buy newt eggs in the hope of them starting an appreciation for All things living - even if it starts out as a transparent snot like glob. :).

Thank you for you time!
Tori
 

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Taricha always look so much better in the wild! And these beauties are no exception. :)
 

sde

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Hi Seth!
I'm curious, Where are you going to observe these awesome little creatures I've been doing some hiking here in Whatcom county, Wa. I would like to get some photos of these guys in their natural habitat.
I ask, because I joined a local Herp group here in Whatcom county, Wa last fall. Who go hiking in certain ares and count the newts, salamanders frogs and toads, plus counting and identifying the eggs we see. We started the hunt two weeks ago. It's been really fun, but sad at the same time, I realize it's still early, but it has also been warm too. From what I've been told, Over the years, because of farming and building, the populations have been dwindling. In Ferndale, Tennant Lake is about dead because of farming pollution. The fish are almost gone, even the red winged black birds have left, along with the yellow finches. I'm one of those 35 year old, Old farts that likes bird watching. ;-). Actually, I'm a nature watcher. If it'll sit still long enough, I'm gonna photograph it :). Anyways, Ever since I got Baby Sinclair (Taricha granulosa) last year, I've been wanting to learn more about her and her natural habitat. I've been taking the kids out on rainy days with the group to do the counts, but about all we've accomplished is an accumulation of muddy laundry with only a couple sightings. I'd like the kids to see something before they get bored with the idea and give up on it all together. I'm hoping this will be a way to get them to care about the environment and the impacts of pollution. Because honestly, I used to love Tennant Lake as a child, and it's just not the same any more. It's quiet, has been for a couple years now, but I dint know why. It literally makes me want to cry, and it's not that I want the kids to be sad and cry, but I want them to care about it as much as the rest of us :). Know what I mean?

The kids love Sinclair, but I need them to realize she is a wild animal, not just a family member (if it lives in my house, it's family - except the spiders. :)). They need to understand that what we do as people, affects everything. I'm even on the hunt to buy newt eggs in the hope of them starting an appreciation for All things living - even if it starts out as a transparent snot like glob. :).

Thank you for you time!
Tori
Hey Tori!

I am afraid giving exact locality info is against forum rules, but I can give you some tips on how to find these species :)
To find T. granulosa ( rough skinned newt ) you should look for a likely breeding site first, like a pond, lake, or marsh. Google maps is a great way to find areas like this. Next, see if there is a road ( preferably small and little traveled ) that goes near it, or along it. Trails are also good. They will be forced to cross the road to get to the breeding site, so this is an opportune time to find them, and help them across. In my experiences they mainly cross after 12:00 PM, and may continue into the night. I have never had success on early morning road hunting, my guess is because the temperature is lower. Also, I have had best success after rain, rather than during rain. They wont start crossing immediately after rain has stopped, though, it usually takes half hour or so. In the day time I always hunt on a bike, you can cover more ground a lot faster. Look at every object on the road that is big enough to be a newt, learn to recognize the profile of a crossing newt, head lifted off the ground ( more so in females than males ), belly on the ground behind front legs etc., you will get the hang of it. Sometimes you can spot them before they spot ( or feel? ) you, so they may still be moving which is easier to key in on. Also, don't look too far ahead of you, you want to be able to spot squished individuals, it will give you and idea of where most of them are crossing.

For A. gracile ( northwestern salamander ) night hunting is essential to find live individuals. I have only ever once found this species crossing in the day ( one juvenile ). Any time after dark is fine, I usually don't search earlier that 7:00, though. I haven't ever done any really late herping for them, so I am not sure how likely you are to find them after 9:30 or so. They are more likely to be found crossing while it is raining, rather than after rain, though they can still be found during the latter weather. For night herping I would recommend going in a car, and one that has good bright headlights helps a lot. If not in a car than on foot is better than biking in my opinion, it is easier to hold several flashlights if you don't have to hold handlebars too! I actually went searching the roads on foot last night, I used one headlamp and two flashlights. It is quite peaceful, actually. Just me and the darkness, and one lone female A. macrodactylum I found.
If you go looking for T. granulosa in the day, keep an eye out for squished individuals of this species as well, for the same reasons previously stated.
Another way you can find A. gracile is by going into forest adjacent to possible breeding sites and flipping logs, bark, and surface cover that they may be found under. Especially at this time of year when they are more likely to be active at the surface. When doing this you may also find other amphibian species, like A. macrodactylum, P. vehiculum, and E. e. oregonensis.

For A. macrodactylum ( long toed salamander ), you can use the same search techniques as with A. gracile.

Also, while road hunting, you might find some P. regilla ( pacific chorus ( tree ) frog ), and R. aurora ( red-legged frog ).

I completely understand you wanting to teach your kids about the importance of nature, and how all we do effects the animals that make life possible. I really want to see you succeed, and find amphibians, I really do. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask :)

Taricha always look so much better in the wild! And these beauties are no exception. :)
I haven't noticed any difference?
Beauties indeed!

-Seth
 

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I hope you don't mind, but i couldn't help myself :S

 
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matamander

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Awesome finds! I've been having the itch to go out for a while now. Although I did see some Notophthalmus under a log this past weekend I still have a few more weeks before the Ambystoma come out around by me.
 

sde

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I hope you don't mind, but i couldn't help myself :S

AHAHAHAHA!!! :rofl:
Just hold still, I have to document that belly color! xD

Awesome finds! I've been having the itch to go out for a while now. Although I did see some Notophthalmus under a log this past weekend I still have a few more weeks before the Ambystoma come out around by me.
Thanks!
If you get a chance to take some pics I am sure we all would love to see them!
 

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I have noticed that taricha in the wild are so much more brilliantly colored. The ones raised in captivity usually have washed out colored bellies unless they are fed tiny copepods and daphnia during the larval stage.
 

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Yay for Washington's lovely critters!...baby is finally old enough to go out this spring so the other half can get out!
 
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