Saturday, February 20, 2010

Endangered Species of the Week

Last Friday I was out in the field working on a tiger salamander project. It's a trapping project so when there is a 50% chance of rain we have to go out and check the traps to see if we caught anything. Salamanders need wet conditions to move from their upland area to the nearest pond to breed and use the precipitation from the rain on the ground to prevent drying out. I have never seen a tiger salamander before so I have been excited to see one.

As we were checking our traps we noticed a large amount of birds congregating in a oak tree. As we were moving closer we flushed a bald eagle! I don't think they are federally listed anymore but its still exciting to see our national mascot.
Look at at that pretty silhouette. Bald eagles are large majestic birds and it was cool to see one in the field. It was hanging out with these vultures and were all feeding on a dead cow in the field. We spooked them but as we left the area, the birds returned to their feast.
So we continued on our trap check and BEHOLD, there was a tiger salamander in our trap!
I was able to hold it and get a photo taken with her. We determined it was a female and she was gravid. My coworker who has a permit to handle the CTS gave me a tutorial on how to handle and do the required measurements we needed to do. I had experience handling endangered snakes and such so it was more of a refresher.
All in all it was a great field day. Most of the time we only capture tree frogs and small mammals so it was exciting to see something different.

Still no plants of the week. Not much flowering out there yet!