Tiger Salamander Larvae Approach Metamorphosis

Here are some of the better photos we’ve taken of California Tiger Salamander larvae this summer.  These larvae are all showing various signs of morphing into adult CTS. These photos were all taken under the supervision of biologist, Joe DiDonato, who has a state and federal permits for handling CTS.

We began to monitor CTS larvae in May. Initially, our take was larva all under 50 mm in length. Look where they are now.

This larva measured 122 mm in length. It is beginning to develop the some of the adult coloration. It's gills are 16mm, showing signs of shrinkage.

This larva measured 122 mm in length. It is beginning to develop the some of the adult coloration. It’s gills are 16mm, showing signs of shrinkage.

This 141 mm larva is quite large. It is showing coloration changes.

This 141 mm larva is showing coloration changes.

120 mm in length

120 mm in length

 

140 mm length, 17 mm gills and coloration changes.

140 mm length, 17 mm gills and coloration changes.

105 mm long and showing signs of morphing.

105 mm long and showing signs of morphing.

123 mm in length and 166 mm gills.

123 mm in length and 16 mm gills.

124 mm in length with gills down to 3 mm, this is a metamorph that will leave the pond any day.

124 mm in length with gills down to 3 mm, this is a metamorph that will be ready to leave the pond any day.

120 mm in length with 16 mm gills, this larva also has a reduced dorsal fin.

120 mm in length with 16 mm gills, this larva also has a reduced dorsal fin.

These larvae are representative of 42 CTS larvae seined at the proposed Ohlone West Conservation bank on July 24th, 2014.  Yesterday, August 21, our crew seined 27 in similar stages of development, including another larva that was a metamorph ready to leave the pond. We believe that larvae similar to the ones shown are leaving the pond and moving into the upland on a regular basis. However, it is very difficult to validate exactly when they leave. We are continuing to develop ways to pin down the exact time that these larvae leave to pond and move into mammal burrows, primarily those of the California ground squirrel.

Of the five ponds in which we have recorded successful breeding at on various years, three are completely dry at this time and two still have significant water.

This has been a difficult drought year, but we are convinced that the diversity of our ponds has been beneficial to CTS breeding.

A-Zone Opener

We were in position. That is, my son-in-law Brett and myself were in position to shoot a buck on opening morning. We were on a rise overlooking one of our watered ponds and a three-point buck was coming towards the pond. As the buck approached, I told Brett the words he did not want to hear.

Hey Brett, I whispered, “This is a buck that we’re not going to shoot this year.”

For a moment he thought I was kidding, but I wasn’t. The buck was a young three-point buck that was not a trophy, but it was the kind of buck we wanted to keep around to see if he might become one. It wasn’t my idea, in fact it was the idea of our biologist, Joe. He suggested that by not shooting the young three point bucks, we’d probably keep them around until they became true trophies and in the meantime, they’d get a chance to add to our gene pool, which was flooded by fork-horn bucks.

A spike followed the three-point. We had both types of non-shooters in front of us.

Of course this meant that we would go the rest of the day without seeing a buck, which was the case. So, on Sunday morning we opted to head to a high point where we would be able to see more deer and that we did.

On the way, we had a nice view of the setting moon and massive fog bank that was covering the East Bay Area.

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Nevada Anteope Hunt Day 2

Tried to post more about the hunt while I was at a Motel 8 in Battle Mountain. Unfortunately the internet service was not very reliable. I’m home now, and my antelope meat is safely in the fridge. The scabs on my knees from crawling are still weeping a bit. Everything didn’t go exactly as planned, but that’s normal.

You can read my last brief post and get the gist of day one in the blind. I did see antelope and here are a couple photos from day one.

 

Read on

Long Day in the Blind

The hotel phone rang at 3:30 AM. Time to hunt.

In the blind at first light and it was so still that an antelope could have heard my stomach growling at 40 yards.

Every move made too much noise.

Birds were active  – a wren that I didn’t recognize, meadow larks and morning doves.

About 7:30 the first of the pronghorns arrived. But, they walked right by.

I managed to snap a couple photos, but haven’t figured out how to upload them to the blog yet with this computer. Maybe tomorrow.

Since the blind didn’t work out very well, we’re going to try some spot and stalk tomorrow. That will be interesting.

 

Battle Mountain, Nevada

Definitely more than a wide spot in the road, but not much more.

Met my guide, Kelly, and the outfitter, Mike. Good guys.

Drove out into the desert a ways and shot my bow. Looks good out to 40 yards which should be far enough.

Ate some chicken-fried steak at the Owl Casino. Not bad.

Have my stuff laid out for the 3:30 AM wake up. We’ll be in the blind before daylight.

Hopefully a nice buck will stop by.