Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eastern Newt Efts in Copeland Forest Vernal Pools

Yesterday we met some home school friends and went to Copeland Forest again. We were here on Saturday for a Vernal Pools workshop but weren't able to find any pools and therefore didn't find any salamanders either (we did today...near end of post).
Today we started off in the opposite direction from Saturday. We crossed the tracks just minutes before a train came by and the girls all sat to watch it pass but it was loud.
We headed off on a little side trail. The day was grey and an occasional rain drop fell on us but the majority of the rain held off. As we walked along our friend spotted this huge American Giant Millipede in a tree. It was huge!
 He freaked out all the girls...even Sierra didn't want to take him home.
Lucky for us the canopy is starting to fill in on the trees and as the rain started to fall we basically stayed dry.
These guys had me stumped for awhile as to what they are but I believe the mystery has been solved...I think they are Sharp Lobed Hepatica.

 This grass still has me searching though... I think it might be English Plantain but I am not certain.
Is this English Plantain?

Our friends got a new puppy this week and she was so sweet but the long walk wore her out. My girls were quite happy to be allowed to help carry her.

Strange variegation on these Trillium leaves....disease perhaps?
 We found another dead critter which turned out to be a shrew and not a mole this time...see the differences HERE (it's a better link then the last one in case you are interested).
 We moved him off to the side of the trail to a final resting place and continued on.

Still have to figure out this little one too...any ideas?

 At one point in the trail the girls found these depressions in the earth they said were bear beds.
Finally after close to two hours of walking pretty much the whole time, we stumbled upon an area of what we thought might be Vernal Pools. We searched around a bit but didn't know what to look for and didn't see anything of interest.
 While Sierra and I were walking around this pool our friends asked some bikers for directions to get out as we really didn't want to turn around and walk all the way back around again.

Sierra examining a Jack-in-the-pulpit

Then we found them...
First we saw some eggs. We aren't sure if they are frog eggs or salamander eggs.
Frog or salamander eggs?

Within a few seconds we saw the first salamander.
Eastern Newt Eft
We caught him in a bucket to observe him for a bit.
Then we kept finding them.

 As well as lots and lots of frogs.

The girls were so tired at this point we only spent about 10 or 15 minutes here at the pools and I neglected to take a picture of the pools themselves as I was so excited to finally see these Eastern Newt Efts. We will have to go back again soon as the pools ended up being only about 20 minutes from the parking lot when we followed the bikers directions; thankfully as Aayla was beyond tired by this point.

A wonderful walk with friends and such an amazing surprise to find the Vernal Pools and the salamanders. A beautiful way to brighten up a grey day.

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