Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winter sucks

Normally I spend winter occupied with fun activities like wallowing in depression and playing videogames all day but despite how fulfilling that might sound I decided to do something different this year. So I finally went outside to enjoy the nature that somehow persists during this dreadful season. Luckily there's one amphibian that is crazy enough to be active during the winter or else I'd really have no motivation to go outside except for maybe exercising my atrophying body. While I once hiked up and down the Grand Canyon with ease I found myself out of breath after the short walk through the woods as this was the first instance of sustained physical activity in months, unless you count going to the mall to pick up a copy of the latest Pokemon game. Anyway enough about me, let's go to the vernal pool.

The vernal pool.

Behold, the lair of the marbled salamander! At least their aquatic larvae anyway. Adults are terrestrial and rarely seen, living up to their family's common name of "mole salamanders" by spending most of their time underground. This is an interesting salamander with a unique lifestyle which has been conveniently covered by David Attenborough's Life in Cold Blood series so just watch this video if you want to know more about this wonderful creature. Actually Sir David forgot to mention how these salamanders lay their eggs in the bottoms of dry vernal pools in the fall which hatch when the pools fill later in the season. The larvae then slowly grow throughout the winter and get a significant headstart in growth compared to the other species which normally breed in the springtime. 

Find it?

To my surprise there were also a few adult eastern newts hanging out in the pool. Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of them, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. Will I brave the cold again to find these animals and maybe pay attention to the other winter flora and fauna? Tune in next week to find out! 

A closer look.