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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rough Skinned Newts and a Starfish

Close up of starfish that was plucked from a pier post
Remy holding a starfish the pouring rain
We spotted three rough-skinned newts  crossing a snow-covered road
Remy holding a newt the pouring rain

Remy is a friend of mine. His little sister was diagnosed with leukemia on Christmas Eve. We decided to take a nature trip out to my forest property. The weather was typical for this time of year, forty degrees and pouring rain.

There was a lot of snow on the ground and ice on the lakes and ponds. This is the time of year when rough-skinned newts go into a terrestrial stage and migrate out of the lakes to new ones where they return to their aquatic stage. Migration is a way of finding better digs and nature's way of keeping the gene pool mixed. Many amphibians have evolved the ability to use the cool temperatures of winter and early spring to do their reproductive thing because that is when one of their main predators, snakes, are hibernating. These newts are quite toxic if you try to eat one but many garter snakes have developed resistance to their poison.

We saw three newts within a few feet of each other crossing a snowy road, all going in the same direction. There must be thousands of them migrating through the woods but until they hit a white patch of snow on a road they are very difficult to spot.

The frogs will be out in about a month and we may make another visit then.

While waiting for a ferry we went down to the docks to explore the piers and moorings. There were gates protecting each dock but we found one that was unlocked. I reached down a few feet into the water to retrieve that single starfish from the riot of sea life clinging to the sides of the piers.

While at my forest property we had stumbled upon a car and lots of beer cans that did not belong there so we quietly walked off to explore other areas. We later backed out of another trail because we heard the sound of an automatic weapon in the distance. Such is human nature.

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