For months, I’ve been meaning to write a long post on this topic. I might still do it one day, but in the meantime, here’s an article that explains why Smoky Bear was wrong: it’s sometimes a good idea to set forest fires. California’s Explosive Wildfire Call for More Southern-Inspired Prescribed Burning
When I first moved to North Carolina, I didn’t have a place to live lined up. I figured I’d camp out at a park for a few days until I found one. Lucky for me, NC has approximately a bazillion state parks, and I found one nearby with a campground.
A few days turned into two weeks, during which it rained the ENTIRE TIME and I got more and more frustrated as various possibilities fell through. At one point, I posted this extremely green photo on Instagram and Facebook:
My concerned friends back in Florida replied that they hoped this was just a temporary situation. It did turn out to be temporary, and a friend who lived in the area called some of her friends, and they offered me a place to stay for a couple of days. Then I finally managed to find someone with a room to rent who didn’t sound creepy and didn’t think I sounded creepy. And after a year of that, I moved into a little house all by myself, and I still live there.
So, this photo? This is not home. This is just the spot where I was camping this weekend. For fun. And it didn’t even rain!
I recently lost a large chunk of the contents of my hard drive, including many of the photos I intended to use for this blog. Most of them still exist, scattered over an old hard drive, several thumb drives, and at least three camera cards. My files were backed up, but not organized.
I’ve been slowly going through them all, occasionally finding something I forgot I had. Like this video version of the Spider vs. Anole photo!
Most of my wildlife photos came from one job. That job, in spite of allowing me a lot of time and access to wander around taking pictures, did have a goal: to find and document flatwoods salamanders on two state forests.
It had recently been discovered that the flatwoods salamander is actually two species, so recently that the current Petersen Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians still lists them as one species: Ambystoma cingulatum. A few years before I started the job, the populations west of the Apalachicola River were declared a separate species, the reticulated flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma bishopi). They were already rare as one species; this little offshoot was extremely rare. There were only about 36 known ponds where they had been found, and at many of those, none had been seen in years.
Continue reading This is probably the worst photo I will ever post. And the best.
In the comments for last week’s cricket frog post, I mentioned that the cricket frog was not the smallest frog in Florida. Then, I completely neglected to say what the smallest frog was. So, here it is: the little grass frog. It’s related to the spring peeper, in the Pseudacris genus.
They are tiny. The frog pictured above is sitting on my raincoat, which doesn’t really give a good sense of scale. Here’s one on a square of ordinary velcro, and one on the palm of my hand:
Little grass frog, on velcro.
Little grass frog, on hand.
The little grass frog is another amphibian that breeds in ephemeral ponds, as well as other grassy-edged bodies of water. I’ve only ever seen two, and I spent a great deal of time in their habitat.
It’s not particularly rare; it’s just very hard to see. Put this little guy in some dead grass, and he would disappear. These, like literally hundreds of mole salamanders, ornate chorus frogs, and leopard frogs, were captured in an attempt to catch flatwoods salamanders (more about those next week). I’ve never seen one just hopping around on the ground. If you do, what luck! Take a picture. Preferably with an object for scale, because nobody will comprehend just how tiny it is without one.