Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oregon 2012

We recently flew to Oregon for a weddding in my family.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with my father's side of the family and spend a nice weekend with Molly and my dad.  Most people might not find Portland to be all that exciting, and it might be way off the radar of most "herpers", but for a salamander enthusiast it was a dream come true!

The herping was limited by the above reasons, but I managed to make the best of a quick trip.  We drove to the coast for a few hours the first day, and enjoyed checking out the tidal pools and nearby streams.  Herping was a huge bust here.

I fooled around photographing some of the tidal pool creatures.

About this time a girl walked up to us yelling "WAR EAGLE!!".  She seemed a little excited to see a "fellow" Auburn fan in Oregon. Sadly, my father was sporting the shirt that was a gift from Brian.  He was completely clueless and couldn't figure out what she was saying or what it meant.  I kindly explained to her he didn't understand, and she proceeded to further educate him on Auburn etiquette.  I found the whole interaction rather humorous.  Crazy war eagle stuff...

The next day, we got to the gorge in the early afternoon after picking up a college buddy to be my "guide" and a quick bite to eat.  We hiked a couple trails he picked out.  Wes is a "nonherper" but is a biologist type and enjoys rustling around for herps when given the chance.

That pool yielded nothing unfortunately.

But I faired better at this one.

Unfortunately, I think they are all coastal giants and I missed out on Copes.  Coastal Giant Salamanders are some pretty cool beasties.  They get rather large, and are considered the largest terrestrial salamander of north america. Many of them actually retain their "larval" form, despite being sexually mature, which is known  as neotony or paedomorphism.

Coastal Giant Salamander Dicamptodon Tenebrosus

Wesley Snipes - Rocking it out!

Wes and I decided to explore farther up a creek that led away from the trail.  I was rewarded with the first frog of the day - Northern Red-legged Frog Rana aurora.

Farther up I explored a seepage that trickled down a rock wall and flowed into a smaller pool in the creek.  I spotted a tail sticking out of moss and was surprised and excited to find this adult Dicamptodon up on the rock face.

The transformed adult form of the Giant Salamander

Wes also found a second Red-legged frog in the edge of the pool.

The next trail we hiked led back to another waterfall.  This pool was very deep and large, and hard to hunt without actually going swimming.  I checked out some of the pools downstream where the water flowed out of the rock walls, as well as some other seepages in the area.  I quickly turned up another 4 or 5 Dicamptodon without much effort.  I flipped another rock and was scooping out a Dicamptodon when Wes said "Hey, here's a frog too!" I had evidently overlooked it. He picked it up and at first glance said he thought it was something different.  Being a bit of a salamander nut, I was still focused on my quarry, until he mentioned it had a tail.

Coastal Tailed Frog Ascaphus truei

These frogs are pretty stinking cool.  The "tail" is actually an organ for internal fertilization, much like a penis. These are the only Genus of frogs in the world that fertilize internally.  It is also thought that they do not vocalize!

Our few hours of hunting unfortunately came to a quick end after this.  I was pretty happy to turn up what I did, but was a little bummed out that I missed Rhyacotriton. I also missed out on the other terrestrials, despite flipping a bunch of logs and rocks along the trail and stream edges. I am hoping it was just due to my timing at the end of August during a drought, but who knows.  Just more reasons to head back, and hopefully soon.


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