On my way back to college in Virginia from Michigan, I decided to hit a little park in Kentucky's rugged southeastern mountains in search of my 14th lifer of the year. As such, I left Detroit at midnight headed southbound and arrived in the Southern Kentucky hills on I-75 just as the sun rose and fog was coating the verdant expanse. The locale was a lush hemlock forest ravine with streams cutting through the bottoms of the various hollows that emanated from the central ravine. Everything was as mossy as a peat bog, and the moist rockfaces looked perfect for caudates. Within an hour, the forest adjacent the stream had given up five longtail salamanders and a few seal salamanders, but no lifers yet. Then, under a small rock in a talus slope beneath a rockface, there was lifer #14: Cumberland Plateau Salamander! These sallies look much like Slimies but hace a gray rather than black chin and the spots look different. I can't really explain how they are spaced and sized differently, but it just seems that if you have seen enough slimies, you'll know right away when you flip a Cumberland Plateau that they look a little distinct. Through the rest of the morning, I found two more Cumberland Plateau salamanders, a Slimy that got away, a few two-lined sallies, and one Black Mountain Salamander, a dusky salamander endemic to the mountains of Eastern KY. For those of you keeping up with my posts, my record for most new species in a year is now tied. Needless to say, it was a happy drive back through far southwest VA and into the Shenandoah Valley.
Pictures are available on caudate.org and naherp.com. Also, the youtube video of my finds up to July 4 is up at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwK_lChTB6M
Happy herpin' you all!
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