I attended the 2nd Ohio Reptile Conference over the weekend. It was once again a truly enjoyable experience. There is a conference held in Columbus every two years, and the subject rotates between Reptiles and Amphibians. I missed the very first amphibian conference 6 years ago but have made the 3 conferences since. They always line up some wonderful speakers, you learn a ton, and it's a great opportunity to catch up with old friends.
Another bonus is the conference always falls around midMarch. This has coincided with spring rains the last 2 times, and it seemed that this year would be no different. I don't always get up into that part of the state during the spring, so it provides a welcome excuse to check out new territory.
My brother Brian rode up from Ohio with Carl, and my dad made the trip down from Cleveland. As is becoming a tradition, after the conference we grabbed a bite to eat and waited for night to fall. We had a few friends join us, some new, some old, so dinner was a great prequel for the night to come.
The rains long passed over Columbus, and despite some initial promising radar reports, no further rain hit. We saw a few Rana pipiens, and got soaked trying to catch calling Pseudacris triseriata and P. crucifer. Alas, the salamanders weren't moving.
It was getting late, and all of the group had long drives (mine was 4.5 hours) so we decided to call it in. As I headed north, drizzle started to wet the windshield and finally some good rains hit north of Columbus. I threw caution into the wind, and drove back roads most of the way home. I was rewarded with my first Ohio Ambystoma texanum.
This is a common salamander in the right part of the state. Laughably I had never seen one, and really never focused on looking for one before. I had wandered into range many times, but never made a true effort.
And thus, the title of the post. Excluding a few species that have questionable history/range in Ohio (Wehrle's salamander, wood turtle, coal skink) I have only 4 more species to find in Ohio borders. This used to be a fairly important goal for me, but has very much fallen by the wayside in the last 2-3 years. In truth, I haven't looked for any of the remaining species in about that long. Anyway, it is nice to knock one off the list, and I have to say I was really hoping it would happen last night with the texanum. Maybe someday I will get around to the remaining suspects: copperbelly watersnake, short-headed gartersnake, Ouachita map turtle and southern leopard frog.
The night also produced some western chorus frogs, and a jefferson salamander. I rolled into Detroit after 5am thanks to the time change. Today was rough needless to say, but it was all worth it.
Hurrah for spring, and happy hunting everyone. Winter had gone on far too long...