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To Everything There Is a Season…

05 Nov

First off, to those who read Field Ventures on a regular basis – allow me to apologize for the half a year silence. In that time I’ve been doing a lot of work (two jobs), traveling, and most importantly, welcoming my daughter, Chava Elizabeth, into the world and making the first steps in parenting. Although I’m a conservationist, I don’t jive with many that see humans as an inherent problem and who scold reproduction – we humans are capable of doing some terrible things to nature, but we also have a capacity to care for and restore it that is completely different and unparalleled in the animal kingdom – so having children and teaching them to live well as good stewards of the life and Earth they’ve been given is of utmost importance to me. All that aside, be looking for new Field Ventures post that should be upcoming on a more regular basis, with more experiences from the field, flashlight and other gear reviews, and all sorts of other stuff. Also, if you’re a herper, biologist or nature lover out there, Field Ventures would love to have YOU as a guest or regular blogger. We can’t pay anything, but we can give you an audience to educate and share in your passion for getting in the field. Email JDHolbrook@gmail.com for more information!

Having just moved from the two-season South Floridian weather (wet/dry season), the seasons here are wondrous to me – an amazing cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth every year speaks to some of life’s fundamental truths. My herping season doesn’t really have to end because of salamander’s tolerance for extremely cold weather, but it really ‘heats up’ in March – and this is when I started finding many salamanders on the road with the rains, especially welcomed were the vibrant Red and Spring Salamanders:

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)

Blue Ridge Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus danielsi)

Of course, dipnetting is a good way to see some cool critters:

Seepage Stream with dipnet.

Desmognathus conanti

The weather steadily got warmer and warmer from April on, and it wasn’t long before scaled ones began to make their appearances:

Northern x Southern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix x A. c. mokasen)

From there, things just kept getting warmer. I got out a little bit locally, but seldom broke out my camera for a long photo session – but either way, snakes, frogs, toads and salamanders were out and active, but as the summer continued the oppressive heat suppressed the salamander movement for the end of July and most of August. It was the age of snakes, and most nights yielded several individuals coupled with oppressive humidity – the kind that fogs up ones glasses instantly after stepping out of the car.

Amazingly though, the end of August began to produce nights that started to cool down to an almost chilly level. What sorcery is this? Sure enough, by the beginning of September some nights were getting downright cold. And so Fall came to western North Carolina. And with the return of the equinox came the resurgence of salamander movement, including dozens of these Bat Cave variants of the Yonahlossee Salamander (AKA “Crevice Salamanders”) in the proper locations:

Crevice Salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee, Bat Cave variant)

And others made their appearance. A typical drive at a road near my house:

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)

Desmognathus conanti

Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Blue Ridge Two Lined Salamander (Eurycea wilderae)

But all good things come to an end, and the frost begins to threaten regularly in my little corner of the world – and it leaves me to sit, dream, and await the rebirth that is the Spring.

Thinking of the things that might live in places like this montane wetland will surely get me through winter’s icy grip…

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Posted by on 05/11/2015 in Uncategorized

 

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