Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh, its sprung all right!

This morning Lucy left early to go to a meeting in Dayton (about 6:00 am). About 7:00 she called me back to say to be careful driving down our road (Brush Creek Rd.) it is alive with critters! She reported over 30 brown snakes (upper right), a toad (upper left), spotted salamanders (center) and unknown numbers of red efts (lower right) crossing the road. I soon left and found that she was in fact correct. I had to drive 5 to 10 miles an hour to avoid them all! Now this is a seasonal thing that we look out for and it happens a bit when it rains but this was exceptional. The brown snakes seem to be synchronized so they move all at once but normally we see them in the fall, when they are going up the hills so it is unusual to see them heading down. The salamanders we start seeing them in December when they are laying their eggs in frozen or near frozen ponds. The toad was a little early as we have heard the peepers in great numbers these last few nights and would expect the toads shortly after that. Now the red efts, who knows what they were doing? They are actually young red spotted newts (lower left), they rise from eggs in the ponds as land dwelling creatures and they then go out on an American version of the Australian "walk about" for about 2 or 3 years. After that they grown slimy skin, gills and a flat tail and crawl back into the water to remain to breed and die. An interesting little bugger.
So watch out in the early mornings don't just be looking for deer (though not a bad idea also), the toads may be spotted with other lives, for goodness snakes. Remember the newt you save may be an eft!