The birding is pretty slow around here, eurasian mega plovers aside, but part of that might be because I haven’t been able to get out and go a whole lot of it lately. The month of March does mean one thing around here, however, and as the temperature slowly creeps upwards the Ambystoma salamanders, the big ones, the cool ones, begin to emerge from under the ground and repair to under logs where they can be mostly found by me.
I’ve had plenty of luck finding Marbled Salamanders, but I really wanted to get a Spotted Salamander this year. So when Ali Iyoob turned up on Facebook with pretty pictures of Spotteds from nearby, I essentially pumped him for information before heading out to Duke Forest with my son to see if we would have any luck. After a couple false starts on the specific location of the site (my left-right disability strikes again) and a couple frantic phone calls to Ali, we realized we were in the right spot, a little patch of woods behind a posh neighborhood where a fairly extensive vernal pool blossomed.
The kid and I poked around the logs for a while, slowly working our way back into the woods, until I turned a large log to find a fat Spotted Salamander beneath. The I turned a piece of bark and found another one. This was pretty easy. We were pretty stoked.
We ended up with three adult Spotted Salamanders in the end, a far cry from the nearly double digits found the week before by someone else, but this day was really more about quality, not quantity. Besides, as far as my son is concerned, I don’t know that a dozen sallies would have been a better experience that the three we did find.
The kid and I moved away from the vernal pool and started turning over logs in the drier parts. It wasn’t long before I turned up a Marbled Salamander, which had to be around if the teeming masses of Marbled larva in the pool was any indication. Noah, ever the showman, wanted a photo with this salamander too.
We found another Marbled Salamander before the morning was out, bringing us to a grand total of 5 sallies of two species. Good stuff. Soon enough it’s going to be time to start looking for snakes.