To all those interested in the natural world. Please add your sightings.

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Utah: Tiger salamander and Praying mantis

10.13.12   Yesterday and last night we were treated to an unusual event: rain!  This morning we noticed a mole running around and around in the base of the 2.5 foot sunken trampoline base in the back yard.  When we went out to rescue it, this somewhat dehydrated 8-inchTiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) was also trapped.  The only salamander to live in Utah, according to nationalgeographic.com, it is the largest salamander on Earth, sometimes attaining a length of 14 inches.  It emerges from its 24-inch burrow at night to feed on insects, worms, and small frogs.  Like salamanders in Dummerston, it is at peril on the "big night" in spring when it has to cross roads to reach its spawning site.  Perhaps I'll start a salamander crossing escort service!

        In the past couple of months, we've spotted several Praying mantises; insects are attracted to lights at night; these predators find the hunting easy in lighted areas.  The tan one was on the garage door in September; the (female) green one, abdomen heavy with eggs, was on the cement driveway just before the first heavy frost.  Yesterday I spotted two egg cases attached to the western exterior wall underneath an overhang where they would receive some protection over winter.  The adults probably expired in the recent 20-degree temperatures, but the eggs will overwinter and hatch baby Praying mantises in the spring. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Utah 10.04.12

Red tailed hawks are year-round inhabitants of this area; since the Swainson's hawk left, I see them much more frequently.  Recently, I've seen two of them have been perched together in various trees; the larger appears much more wary than the lighter one.   When I went out for my walk,  I observed this Eastern racer in the path.   The puncture wounds on the belly seemed consistent with talon wounds.   I didn't have my ruler, but my best estimate is that it was 22-24 inches long.  They grow to more than 4 feet in length, so this must have been a fairly young one.

     Near the reservoir where the White pelican continues to spend much time, the pair of Red-tails flew from the snag they both occupied and soared around the area.  I wonder if one of them had something to do with the abandoned snake.