Monday, March 08, 2010

DVHS meeting rescheduled to March 26th!

We have rescheduled the February meeting we postponed due to snow ( to March 26th. It's the same time, same topic, same location.


Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm a new herper. I went herping yesterday with my two kids to a local creek in the DC area. I was hoping to see some spring peepers, who are quite noisy (in a good way) at night. I didn't see any. However, luckily, I found one redback salamander swimming in a shallow pool. I was a bit suprised to see it there - I thought they mostly lived in damp areas but not in the water. I was hoping you might be able to answer a couple questions I had.

(1) What was the salamander doing in the water, do you think? Was it emerging from hibernation? Do they spend more time in the water than I gathered from the articles that placed them mostly under rocks and in rotting trees?

(2) I know there were tons of peepers around that I couldn't see. I was mostly looking on the banks of the creek, in the rotting leaves that collected at the edges, etc. Is that where they are likely to be?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Bernard Brown said...

Thanks so much for the comment, and welcome to the club.

1) Your general impression of redback habitat is correct; I have no idea what the redback was doing in the water. I've never seen that either, though I've heard of crazier things. I'd love to see a photo to confirm that it is a redback, since there are other species that would be more likely to be in the water, so please email one if it's possible.

2) Few things in life have frustrated me more than locating small calling frogs. Peepers and their close relatives the chorus frogs often call from inside emergent vegetation or weeds/brush along the edge of the water. I don't think of them as calling along creeks (rather bodies of still water or marshes), but go with where you heard them over anything else - if you heard them, they're there somewhere. The best way to find them is to triangulate on them, with two people pointing at the sound of one peeper; the intersection of the directions in which they're pointing should mark the spot of the frog, but the problem is that the frogs shut up when you move, so you both have to stay really still until it calls, adjust your pointing if necessary and inch closer, then repeat. I've never had the necessary patience for it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I of course did not take a photo, and I'm guessing it was a redback. I actually was able to catch it in my hand and look at it. It was small, a mottled kind of greyish color, probably about 4-5 inches long. The most noticable identifier was its tail - the sides of the tail were kind of a sandy greyish color, while the top of the tail was darker, kind of giving the appearance of stripes. It's legs were very short; when I put it back in the water it swam with a kind of whipsaw body motion. I don't think it was a newt - it had shorter legs, no red spots and didn't have the eel-like tail the ones I've seen in photos seem to have. Thanks again!