Trip Details

Location: Black Hawk County, Iowa

Weather: Overcast and cold. High of about 40 degrees and dropping. Light snow occasionally.

Time: 5:20 p.m.

Herpers: Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: My hands are FREEZING!

It is still an unusual thing for me to start herping in March here in Iowa. This day was an example of that. It was cold and cloudy. However my target for the day was OK with these conditions.

Based on information shared by my friend and fellow herper Don, I trekked north for the elusive Blue-Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale). He had found several a few days earlier so my odds were good.

Upon arriving I did need to walk around the general area and find the best spot to start looking. It took me a little bit before I got the lay of the land, but found an area that looked good and I knew it was in the general location they had been found before. Not long after I found my first Blue-Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale).

It was about 4 inches long. As it was cold I got some shots as quickly as I could before I moved it so it could go back under its cover. You will notice I didn’t really clean off any of the stuff on the salamanders and pretty much got whatever shots I could. They are still amazingly active for as cold as it was. It did not take long before my hands were freezing. Even with gloves, turning things was not all that pleasant.

Soon after I found another about 5 inches long.

I repeated the steps I had for the previous one; however this one posed a bit better as I readied its cover so it could go back under. It was starting to flurry. It had gotten colder. As I had not one, but two of my targets for the day I decided it was time to head out.

When I got back to my car there was a note saying they had locked the gate as they were closing for the possibility of flooding. I was to go to the ranger station to have them unlock to let me out. I did so and had a nice talk with the ranger on my reason for being there.

The season was starting. A slow, cold start…but a start nonetheless.

Good luck to all for 2011 and Happy Herpin’!

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