Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'll lead with the last herping of 2011:

I was under the weather for much of our Christmas trip to Roswell, GA (northern suburb of Atlanta) and the days I felt like going out it rained. Indeed right now my camera is somewhere in the care of the United States Postal Service on its way back from Paula and James' house. What does that have to do with the rain? Well, I had left the camera in the pocket of the rain jacket that James had lent me when we ventured out with their son to see what salamanders we might see in the creek that runs by their house. Unfortunately the same rain that compelled me to wear that jacket had swollen the creek to a chocolatey torrent, interesting to behold but nothing we could flip rocks in.

But on our last day there, with a flight to catch in the afternoon, I scampered down into the ravine behind the in-laws' house to see what I could flip.

Duskies! Apparently these are firmly considered to be spotted duskies (Desmognathus conanti), now their very own species and no longer a measly subspecies of our basic northern dusky (D. fuscus). I saw one adult, dark with some reddish-brown pattern along the back and top of the tail, one itty-bitty baby with the twin rows of spots on its iridescently brown and purple back, and one mid-size dusky that just looked dark grey to me as it bolted down a hole.

That might be about the entire dusky population on that stream. I only half-kid. I measured the streams on Google Earth, and I think they might total about 250 yards of stream leading into a man-made lake, all of it cut off from any other streams to which these duskies might travel or from which they might receive new blood.