Mother Nature is the artist. I just collect the memories…

Endangered Toads

The California Black Toad(Bufo exsul) exists only in a tiny chain of natural springs in Eastern California.  They are endemic to this area, and as a founding member of the Eastern Sierra Herpetology Club, it is a privilege to be able to work with the California Department of Fish and Game to protect and maintain the habitat for these animals.  Yesterday, we took a trip up there to check on the toads, and see how the breeding season was coming along…

Adults in amplex amid egg strings

Adult pair in amplex(mating)

We observed 4 or 5 pairs of adult toads in amplex, which means the male has mounted the female and breeding has begun, and we also heard several “release” calls, which is a signal that mating has finished and the male is releasing the female.  We also saw millions developing egg strings, and even a few tadpoles…

Egg Strings. Each tiny, black dot is a developing tadpole. The empty areas are from recently hatched tadpoles...

2 tiny tadpoles, likely only a day or two old...

After visiting the breeding habitat, we followed the spring system to a location known to be home to several toads to see how they were progressing.  We were pleasantly surprised to see a countless number of juvenile toads, likely hatched last year, hopping and swimming around, seemingly everywhere we looked.  To say there were thousands would be an understatement…

Juvie Black Toad

Juvie Black Toad

It was a real treat to see so many breeding adults peacefully using the breeding habitat that we, as a club, helped to restore and protect.  It was also a real treat to see that the implementation of a seasonal road closure, also initiated by the Eastern Sierra Herpetology Club, led to such a successful amount of breeding last season.  We were all smiles and giggles over our short-term successes.  Now we can begin long-term documentation and maintenance and hopefully watch this endangered, endemic population of toads thrive in their only native habitat.

Obviously, while out on these trips, we see other reptilian wildlife and even a few insects.  So here are a couple of “bonus shots” from the day…

No idea...any guesses on species out there?

Great Basin Fence Lizard--Sceloporus occidentalis longipes

Common Sideblotch--Uta stansburiana

Northern Desert Horned Lizard--Phrynosoma platyrhinos platyrhinos

I did find a very pretty and extremely healthy Mojave Patchnose snake(Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis) on the way up to the habitat, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  I got to share it with my friend Rusty who had never seen one before, though, so that’s good enough for me…

Thanks for coming along!

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One response

  1. I’m all smiley and giggly too. That is wonderful news. Great to hear about a local conservation effort yield such positive results. It doesn’t hurt any that those toads are cute. Dig the spinal/dorsal stripe. Very stylish.

    April 4, 2011 at 11:19 am

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