Trip Details

Location: Linn County, Iowa

Weather: 50 degrees. Light rains, windy

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Herpers: Laura Scharosch, Jim Scharosch

This was an area I had seen a number of road killed salamanders the previous spring during a morning run. I had also found one live salamander crossing the road that morning. I wanted to come back and take a look when weather conditions were right for seeing salamanders. It was a rainy evening after a warm early spring day, so I knew they would be on the move. As we drove to the location, I noticed a lot of cars at the middle school in the nearby town. Some event was ending and there were a lot of people piling into their vehicles. I knew this would be trouble, as many of these cars would be driving the road out of town, right through the spot I wanted to look for salamanders. Our first pass through we dodged vehicles as we cleaned up dead and dying salamanders from the road. It was sorta depressing, but at least we knew they were moving. I'm sure we saved a few from certain vehicular doom as we scooped them up between passing cars. After about 30 minutes of dodging cars the traffic thinned out and we were able to search more casually. It ended up being a lot of fun, and very productive.

All told, in a little over an hour of search time both cruising and walking, we found nine live Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) and four or five dead ones. They were still on the move when we left, so if we had stayed we would have found a lot more.

I took a couple of pics with my good camera.

The rest were just cell phone shots so we could keep looking.

There were also a variety of frogs crossing the road. This is a Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) that sat still long enough for me to grab a pic.

The salamanders in the bucket were the ones we pulled off the road during the high traffic portion of the night. They were released into the ditch when we left for the evening.

Here is a video of a couple on the crawl. It's surprising how fast they can move when they want to.

All in all it was a lot of fun. Thanks to Laura for putting up with these shenanigans on a work night.

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