Spotted Salamander oct 5 2013
Northern Water Snake oct 5 2013
On Saturday, October 5th, the Herpetology class from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry spent five hours searching for salamanders, frogs, snakes and other reptiles on some of the public lands at the NW corner of the Owasco Flats in Venice and Moravia.
The day included exploring the County-owned woodlands west of the Flats. This area was suspected to be good salamander habitat, which was confirmed that day.
That afternoon, around 6 acres of the woodlands was explored by ESF Professor Jim Arrigoni, 6 students and three local volunteers for 2 hours. Here are the species found in the afternoon and the numbers of each:
Red Back salamanders 33
Northern Dusky salamanders 12
Alleghany Dusky salamanders ? 2 or 3, see below
Dusky salamanders 19 (mostly northerns)
Spotted salamanders 11
N. Two-lined salamanders 2
N. Spring Peepers 13
Gray Treefrogs 2
Totals… 77 salamanders and 15 frogs in 2 hours.
At the same time, a smaller group was exploring the flatter parts of the Flats via the Loop Trail… They saw mainly frogs, mostly Greens and Leopards.
Live snakes and turtles completely evaded the group for 5 hours, only to be seen by a photographer that happened by the site just before we finished. The photo at the right was taken that day.
It was a beautiful October day, but a lot of reptiles and amphibians are hard to observe in the fall. Plans are being made to repeat the fieldwork in the spring and summer, so let me know if you’d like to join us next time!
I don’t have the field report from the other afternoon group yet, but the preliminary species list for the day includes…
Red Back salamanders
Northern Dusky salamanders
Allegheny Dusky salamanders
N. Two-lined salamanders
N. Slimy salamander ##
N. Spring Peepers
Green frogs (Flats)
N. Leopard frogs (Flats)
Pickerel frog (Route 38, deceased) ##
N. Water Snakes (photographer’s find plus 2 on Route 38, deceased)
Two of these are new confirmed sightings within the Moravia USGS quadrangle (##), which is how species are normally tracked and mapped. The original 10 years of mostly volunteer observations that went into the 1999 NYS Herp Atlas only found 22 species in the entire Moravia quad (which is larger than the Flats and includes south to the Locke/Groton line)… With species added and confirmed in the last 13-14 years, including 2 Saturday, that is now up to 27-28…
Finding 12 species of herps in 5 hours of fieldwork in October is not bad, especially when 2 are new species!
Why is this important? Well, only one USGS quadrangle North or West of the Catskills had 30 or more species in the original NYS Herp Atlas (1 in about 800). With a little more field work, the Flats area will be confirmed as being one of the best habitats for amphibians and reptiles in all of western, central and northern New York!
Cayuga County Planning
PS on 11/6… I have been to the Flats several times since 10/5, and keep finding the snakes that eluded us during the “salamander hunt.” Today I saw a garter snake and a red-bellied snake, plus a spring peeper, in November! That’s two more species, bringing the total to 14 species in 4.5 weeks (without any turtles or toads…)…