Skip to main content

Northern Dusky Salamander

A Northern Dusky Salamander, Desmognathus fuscus, peeks at your blogger from the chilled waters of a woodland rill. I had the good fortune to encounter several of these extraordinary, if rather bland-looking salamanders the other day.

The northern in this species' name is apropos. It ranges throughout the New England states, and south along the mountains and west into Ohio. While locally common here, its range includes only eastern and southern Ohio.

Quicksand-colored and unadorned, duskies won't blow your socks off with flashy coloration. The same is not true of some of their mates, such as the Mud and Red salamanders, both of which can occur as companion species with the Dusky Salamander. In fact, both of those bright red species are known from the very springhead where I photographed this animal. Just wasn't my day to find them, but I was quite pleased to find the duskies.

Finding any salamander is always a treat. It's a bit like treasure-hunting, and the quick, casual observer will not be rewarded. One must tun rocks and logs, and in many cases wallow in boot-sucking muck. And to do it right, exercise care. You shouldn't behave as a bull in a china shop, but rather turn the objects slowly and with caution, and replace all just as it was.

Here's a challenge for you photographers. The third iteration of the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp (OWLS) will feature a salamander. Submissions will be voted upon by a panel of judges, and the winner's shot will grace this beautiful stamp. Stamp proceeds go to fund habitat acquisition, research on rare species, and educational efforts about natural history. Read more about the stamp HERE.


thatoneoldguy said…
wonderful, thanks for sharing

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.

So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…