This afternoon I was walking in Purissima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, through Douglas Fir woodlands, along a ridge that was about 1,400 feet aboe sea level. I happened to look down at my feet, and there was a — well, no, it wasn’t a lizard, it was some kind of salamander.
Sometimes it pays to walk slowly and deliberately. I got down on my knees to look more closely.
I haven’t seen seen a salamander since I moved to California more than five years ago, so I stopped to watch it for a while. I placed a quarter on the ground, to give a sense of scale in the photos I was taking. The salamander obligingly stepped right on the quarter:
It was fun to watch it walk — it had that rolling, deliberate salamander gait, so very different from the quicker-than-the-eye sprinting done by lizards. Eventually, it walked off the trail and disappeared into the leaf litter.
When I got home, I looked on the California Herps online identification guide. I’m pretty sure it was a Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa). Another possibility would be the Red-bellied Newt (Taricha rivularis) — but the eye of my newt showed some whitish yellow, while T. Rivularis has uniformly dark eyes.