Skip to main content

Salamanders and shrimp

A male Fairy Shrimp,  Eubranchipus vernalis, one of the stranger inhabitants of eastern vernal pools.

Last night was reasonably warm and rainy - a perfect night to seek salamanders and other early breeding amphibians. So, I joined Laura Hughes to head to southeastern Ohio and interesting amphibian habitats. We were specifically seeking the rare (for Ohio) Eastern Spadefoot Toad, but no luck on that. We think it's probably still a bit early for the toad, but will be back to try again.

Laura knew of a fabulous vernal pool in the nearby Zaleski State Forest, and off we went to have a look. Immediately upon wading in, we saw scads and scads of Eastern Fairy Shrimp, such as above. These are amazing little creatures that are obligate denizens of vernal pools. By capturing some and placing them in small containers with clear water, I was able to make some images. As it was raining pretty hard nearly the entire time we were at the pool, I wasn't going to take my camera rig out in the field - I've learned this lesson the hard way. The shrimp were photographed under the refuge of my Jeep's back tailgate, then returned to the pool.

We were really hoping for salamanders, and weren't disappointed. There weren't many, but we saw a dozen or so Spotted Salamanders, Ambystoma maculatum. All appeared to be male, and some were already leaving the pond, marching overland away from the water. While some egg masses were already in the vernal pool, it didn't appear that the bulk of salamander activity had yet occurred.

So, if you are hoping to seek some salamanders yet this year - at least the vernal pool-breeding mole salamanders - there's still time.

Comments

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…