Here’s an interesting citizen science project….
“The Newt Patrol is a group of citizen scientists in the South Bay. We have been surveying newt roadkills near Lexington Reservoir since 2017. We have documented over 10,000 dead newts so far, representing one of the highest rates of amphibian roadkill mortality known worldwide. This project aims to raise awareness of this problem and provide a rigorous database that could be used by the authorities to implement mitigation measures.”
You can see their Web site here.
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.