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 Post subject: Starting off 2018 Right
PostPosted: February 26th, 2018, 7:13 pm 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 532
Location: Springfield, VA
I considered doing a 2017 recap but I didn't have the energy to complete it. It's been a busy few months for me - our daughter, Natalie, was born just before Christmas, and our son just turned four and requires constant attention. With that, I've had to make the most of my herping outings, and I've done well so far in 2018 despite getting skunked on an excursion to find Jefferson's Salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains of VA. So far I'm up to 16 species from Northern VA and Southern MD.

The 2018 herping season started in the woods behind my house on a warm and wet January night. The first herp of the year was this Green Frog tadpole.

ImageDSCN2004 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Obligatory Eastern Red-backed Salamander

ImageDSCN2010 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Obligatory Northern Two-lined Salamander

ImageDSCN2013 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

From a different night, but still from the woods out back. Northern Dusky Salamander. I wish I could turn these up more often! They are the most seclusive of the salamanders I have in the creek.

ImageDSCN5493 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

On February 10th, we had a major rain system push through with temps hovering around 50 degrees, making conditions perfect for road cruising. I went with some friends and road cruised Southern Maryland on a stretch of road that we saw only three cars all night. It was a superb night, as we turned up 120+ Spotted Salamanders, 20 or so Four-toed Salamaners, about 10 Marbled Salamanders, among others. We had to cease stopping for Spotteds as there were so many!

Southern Leopard Frog

ImageDSCN5419 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2119 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Spotted Salamander

ImageDSCN5420 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Large male ready to breed (note the swollen cloaca)

ImageDSCN5422 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Marbled Salamander

ImageDSCN5430 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Spotted with an aberrant pattern (few spots)

ImageDSCN5432 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Marbled with an aberrant pattern (no crossbars)

ImageDSCN5435 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Another neat Spotted

ImageDSCN5433 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

All three together!

ImageDSCN5441 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Female Wood Frog

ImageDSCN5447 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Another

ImageDSCN2030 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

And another

ImageDSCN2031 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

More Spotteds

ImageDSCN2023 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2026 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2038 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2042 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2068 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2108 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2109 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Young Spotted

ImageDSCN2035 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Many Spring Peepers were on the road...had to swerve to dodge some!

ImageDSCN2027 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2063 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Before this night, I had only ever seen one Four-toed Salamander. It was great seeing them again!

ImageDSCN2043 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2050 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2056 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2060 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2084 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2099 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

They have the best ventral patterns out there!

ImageDSCN2052 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Marbled with light patterning

ImageDSCN2070 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Grab bag

ImageDSCN2072 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2076 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2077 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2091 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2123 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3795 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Random Devil Crayfish

ImageDSCN2085 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

This was one of the most unexpected finds of the night. This is an adult Red-spotted Newt transitioning from its terrestrial stage to its aquatic stage. It wasn't much larger than an eft!

ImageDSCN2097 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

This past weekend, I went out to western Fairfax County to check out some wetlands and a vernal pool during the rain. It did not disappoint! Wood Frogs were still calling, and the Peepers were out in full force.

ImageDSCN2159 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I was surprised to find these American Toad eggs! Seems early for them. I bet they were breeding last week when temps were near 80 degrees!

ImageDSCN2160 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2174 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Wood Frog eggs

ImageDSCN2165 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2168 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Peeper

ImageDSCN2171 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I found a few Spotted Salamanders swimming around in a HUGE vernal pool that extended for hundreds of feet.

ImageDSCN2187 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2189 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2199 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2205 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I also saw a couple of Newts swimming around

ImageDSCN2194 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Last week, I went to check the woods out back for Wood Frog activity. To my surprise, I found more than four hundred using a single vernal pool deep in the woods! This pool was dry last year due to a drought, but the wet month we've had more than filled it up. I never imagined that we had this many Wood Frogs in this forest!

I divided this photo into quadrants and counted the individual eye shines. Approximately 420, with most being males.

ImageDSCN5527 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

The vernal pool during daytime

ImageDSCN5560 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Odd pattern on this male Wood Frog - it's white lip isn't very white!

ImageDSCN2155 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Male Wood Frog in a creek

ImageDSCN5496 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Female arriving at the vernal pool

ImageDSCN5505 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Calling males

ImageDSCN5509 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN5513 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Every female in the pool itself was in amplexus. Poor ladies must have been jumped the moment they got there.

ImageDSCN5526 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN5528 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr



Egg Masses a few days after the breeding explosion

ImageDSCN2211 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2220 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN2244 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN5566 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

To wrap things up, I went herping during lunch on the one day it got up to near 80 degrees in Washington, D.C. I work at the Pentagon and found these turtles just a few minutes from the building!

Northern Red-bellied Cooter

ImageDSCN5550 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Another

ImageDSCN5553 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Red-Eared Slider

ImageDSCN5558 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

That's all for now! I still hope to find some Spotted Salamander egg masses and some Marbled Salamander larvae before things warm up too much. And maybe I might still have a shot at Jefferson's Salamanders - we'll see. I expect things will slow down a bit, especially if I end up moving again this summer. I hope you enjoyed my post!


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 Post subject: Re: Starting off 2018 Right
PostPosted: February 26th, 2018, 11:44 pm 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 9:46 am
Posts: 222
Great post! Nice to see so many amphibians doing well.

FH


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 Post subject: Re: Starting off 2018 Right
PostPosted: February 27th, 2018, 5:08 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Posts: 2251
Location: Unicoi, TN
Wow, Matt, that many "Spotted"s. That's great.

Two locations I've been lucky enough to be in at the right time to see a "Spotted" mating frenzy was in the northern Appalachians and not far from where you are now!


PS
The marbled larva should already be hatched. I find them by stirring up the detritus in the pond at night, and they come out of hiding to feed in the middle of the column of water.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting off 2018 Right
PostPosted: February 27th, 2018, 7:21 am 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 532
Location: Springfield, VA
Thanks guys!

Bill - I have a few spots for Marbled larvae. Just need to find the time to get out there! You used to be stationed at Quantico, right? Is that when you saw one of your Spotted frenzies? It was ridiculous how many we saw on the road that night.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting off 2018 Right
PostPosted: February 27th, 2018, 7:27 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Posts: 2251
Location: Unicoi, TN
Just south of Quantico.

Here's a glimpse into this from Cornell:
https://vimeo.com/158670276

There are probably 30 - 40 animals here. Triple that number and it makes the pond surface boil!


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 Post subject: Re: Starting off 2018 Right
PostPosted: February 28th, 2018, 7:46 am 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 532
Location: Springfield, VA
BillMcGighan wrote:
Just south of Quantico.

Here's a glimpse into this from Cornell:
https://vimeo.com/158670276

There are probably 30 - 40 animals here. Triple that number and it makes the pond surface boil!


That's awesome! I need to see that some day.


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