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

Amphibians

What a Day!

So…I picked my son up at the airport on Sunday.  I haven’t seen him since he was 2 years old, and he has no conscious memory of me at all.  He’s a 21-year-old Army combat veteran, now.  We had a 4 hour drive from the airport to the house, and we spent 99% of it talking, laughing, and getting to know each other.  It really surprises me how much we have in common, both in terms of things we enjoy, and our personalities…the way we think.  We share similar opinions on many subjects, and enjoy many of the same hobbies and activities. 

It’s really been a nice couple of days.  We went for a walk around the Buttermilk area, looking for snake and lizards, and taking pictures yesterday afternoon…

My son, Kevin, looking for snakes and lizards, camera 'round his neck

 We did manage to find a few lizards, but no snakes…

Great Basin Fence Lizard--Sceloporus occidentalis longipes

And a B&W panorama of some of my favorite mountains…

2 shot pano--Paiute Crag to Mt. Humphries

 Last night, Kevin and I went road cruising for snakes for a little bit.  We didn’t see any snakes, but we did find a Great Basin Spadefoot toad, which is always a welcome and rare treat in Inyo County…

Great Basin Spadefoot--Spea intermontana

It’s been fantastic so far!  We are going to pick up Zayne either tonight or tomorrow.  These two haven’t met, yet, so I’m pretty excited to get them both together…

Thanks for looking!

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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!


My New Buddy

Someone called up the shop the other day, and asked if I knew anyone that rescued animals.  She said she found “some kind of turtle” walking in her backyard.  She described it to me, and I figured it to be a Red-eared Slider, which is a semi-aquatic turtle, popular in the pet trade, and not at all adapted to life in the hot, dry, high desert of Bishop.  So I told her to bring it in the shop, and I would make some calls.

I didn’t need to make any calls, because as soon as I saw him, I knew I was just gonna have to bring him home with me.  So I’d like to introduce you all to my new buddy, Rocky, relaxing comfortably in his new semi-aquarium…

Say, Buddy...Is that a camera ya' got there?

CHEESE!

This is actually my good side...

We done here? kthxbai!

He really is an entertaining little critter.  I never had a turtle before, believe it or not.  I have a tortoise, and loads of snakes, a couple dogs…I’ve had lizards of many varieties, hamsters, rats, and rabbits…cats, goldfish, and birds…but this is my first turtle.  He’s cool!!

Thanks for taking the time to look!


Baby Tree Frogs

As part of our commitment to the California Department of Fish and Game, the Eastern Sierra Herpetology Club went out to survey for Northern Leopard Frogs this morning.  We didn’t find any, but we weren’t really expecting to.  They haven’t been seen in this area in many years.  We did find some freshly metamorphosed Pacific Tree Frogs(Pseudacris regila), though.  A few of us found a breeding location, and spotted 15-20 or more froglets within 3 meters of each other.

In situ froglet

Pacific Tree Frog

Pseudocris regila

These little amphibians are absolutely adorable.  Given the size and number of bass and bullfrogs we found in the area, it’s really quite a testament to this tree frog’s resiliency that they are coming back and doing so well.  Hopefully, we can find a population of Northern Leopard frogs that have been hiding…

We also saw a ton of dragon flies, some of which I posted earlier.  Here are a few more of those, as well…

Thanks for taking the time to look!