Title Image

Title Image


This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

High Sierra Sallies

Being the amateur herpers that we are, we looked high and low for herps during last year's camera trapping workshop in Yuba Pass.  We did not find much.  A single garter snake that we could not get our hands on, and a single lizard tail scurrying into the brush on the side of Hwy 49.  Probably a Scelopera.

So heading out this June to pre-set some cams with the Codger I was not holding my breath that we were going to turn up any herps in only a weekend.  See it was a month earlier, much colder, and there was way more snow on the ground then last year when we nearly got skunked over 5 days.

When we got to the SFSU Field Campus the Yuba River was raging and the garter snake spot was class II rapids with dangerous snags.  Not garter snake friendly territory.

We set  the last of our cameras and parted ways with half our group. CTC, randomtruth, Sean P and the Codger decided we could sneak pass the fallen tree in the road and try exploring one last spot.  We made it past the tree without scratching the car and headed on.  It did not take long to hit a snow bank in the middle of the road though so we had to give up and turn around.  Both cars had seen a promising open area so we stopped and got out of the car on the way back.

Our first find was an ecological phenomenon that the Codger will tell you about at some point.

The second was this little guy, the Long-toed Salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum sigillatum. I am embarrassed to admit that I had the Santa Cruz Black Salamander, Aneides flavipunctatus niger, on my mind and mis-identified this guy as Aneides macrodactylum at first.  I had the species right and the common name right but I put it in the wrong genus.  Duh! There is another subspecies of this guy, Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum, endemic to a couple of vernal pools in the Monterey Bay area hence my twisted brain.

Photo by ecov ottos (Christian)

Christian flipped this individual under the last log before the car. A log I swore I had already flipped but had missed. There were excited outburts of four letter words not fit for print on the blog uttered and beer toasts to the find back at the cabin.

Photo by ecov ottos (Christian)

I am not sure where this Sallie's breeding pond is as there was no obvious one in the area.  He or she had a trek ahead of them or behind them, not sure but since the snow was not fully melted yet I will guess ahead of them.

Photo by ecov ottos (Christian)

This was a life-lister for most (all?) of the group. It was a great way to close our camera-trapping day. At least until we started our camera-trapping night catching Brother Fox.


  1. Nice work on the macrodactylum! Have never seen one in the wild and really would like to some day....

  2. Awesome find! It's amazing how different it looks from our local subspecies. One long yellow blotch instead of lots of little spots.

    Now you got me curious about the "ecological phenomenon" ?!?