Amphibian Eggs

Checked a bunch of ponds for amphibian eggs yesterday. Here are some photos of what we found. Check the caption and click on the photos to enlarge.

In addition to frog eggs, we also found newt eggs.

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We even found one fresh batch of California Tiger Salamander eggs.

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California tiger salamander eggs. Note the nucleus in this backlit photo.





Springtime Ponds

The ponds of spring and early summer are alive with insects, amphibians and reptiles. Here are a few from yesterday’s pond survey.

As the weather warms, California red-legged frogs are more visible. This frog is a sub-adult.

The California red-legged frog is listed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and is classified as Threatened.

Each pond has tadpoles, sometimes just tree frog and other times tadpoles of red-legged frog, western toad and tree-frogs.

Tree-frog tadpoles were present in every pond.

The California tiger salamander larvae we found were approaching about half the size of mature tiger salamanders. Their gills are apparent.

This cts larvae is not quite half  the adult size. All California tiger salamanders are listed as either Threatened or Endangered.

A garter snake sunned itself on a floating log.

Garter snake.

This is a Pacific newt larvae that overwintered in the pond.

The ponds contained many dragonfly nymphs. At one pond a “squadron” on red dragonflies gave me a photo opportunity.

These red dragonflies appeared to be reproduction mode.

April Weekend at the Ranch

It was a good weekend to be in the hills. Here are a few of the photos I was able to take while traveling around the ranch. (Click to enlarge.)

Here's the typical view of a ranch road coyote.

Surprise. It’s unusual for ranch road coyotes to pose for a broadside photo.
Another rarity, only in spring will you see two great blues together like this.
Nice cape on this great blue heron.
Rob pointed out some baby blue eyes – with bug.
Mules ear is having a good year. Maybe it likes the cool spring.
Checkerbloom I believe.
The goldfields were looking good.
My first whipsnake of the season. He was sold cold I could have picked him up.
I don’t know whose brand this is.
Fence lizards were out in force for the first time this spring.
Pacific newts have a rubber look.
The does were in hiding with fawns, but a few bucks were around.
We went to a spot I’d never been before.
Instant replay of the earlier coyote.
For the second time in a weekend, a coyote stopped and looked back.

A Walk Around a Revived Pond

Two summers ago we repaired the dam on one of our best ponds. It was also filled with bass and bluegill, something that gave use pleasure on many occasions. However, as we prepared to make this parcel ready for a conservation easement for endangered species, we were required to remove the fish.

We pumped the pond dry last fall and all the fish died. Of course we invited some friends to come up and catch as many fish as possible first, but they only caught a small portion of what the pond held. The rest  were sentenced to flop on the ground until dead.

Nearly a year later, we circled the pond, me with camera in hand. Here’s what we found.

A juvenile red-legged frog sat at pond's edge - ready to hop into the pond for protection.

A large California tiger salamander larvae floated near the surface.

There were juvenile CRFs along the shore and in the pond.

Here's a CRF tadpole with legs.

Here's a good look at a California newt larvae. Much smaller than the CTS.

As we watched a red-legged frog tadpole turned on it’s side, swam in circles and floated to the surface dead.

This tadpole died right before our eyes.

From bad to worse. Not long after that we found the remains of the young buck. I guess that’s life and death at the former fish pond. The good news? It was the first time in many years that any of the above critters survived in the pond, as the fish did a very good job of consuming all of them.