Salamander Cover Boards

Red-backed Salamander photographed by

Dave Rosgen at WMF's Duck Pond Trail

On Tuesday, 8/23/11, I checked all 174 salamander cover boards at White Memorial's Ongley Pond, Lake, Windmill Hill, Butternut Brook, Interpretive, Duck Pond, and Pine Island Trails, Mott-Van Winkle Area, and the east slope of Windmill Hill. The results were rather disappointing: 50 Red-backed Salamanders, 7 Red Eft-stage Red-spotted Newts, and 2 Northern Spring Peepers. This is despite wet conditions which would seem to favor amphibians. However, I did find huge numbers of earthworms; many of them being of nightcrawler size. Some concern has been expressed by herpetologists about the growing numbers of earthworms (most of which are non-native species) and their possibly ill effects on salamanders. I found at least 500 earthworms under our salamander boards. Five days after this survey, Tropical Storm Irene hit, dumping 8 inches of rain on this part of Litchfield, and flooding most of our salamander boards. Yesterday I found 21 of the 25 boards at the Interpretive Trail floating in the Pike Marsh's flooded backwater. Two boards were missing, and the 2 remaining boards on land harbored 4 Red-backed Salamanders. Of the 20 boards at Mott-Van Winkle, 6 were missing. The remaining 14 boards harbored 3 Red-backs. I'm heading out now to check on the fate of the rest of the cover boards.

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