My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!


Nature Haikus – Frogs

Bullfrog up close

By Young Naturalist C

The frogs are cheerful
Hopping onto lily pads
With a plip and plop

Salamander Migration 2009

Wednesday night was about the Salamanders with the blue-black body and distinct overlaid rows of yellow spots along its sides, back and tail. Its scientific name is Ambystoma maculatum and since “maculatum” means spotted . . . . . we call these guys the “Spotted Salamander”. But predicting the movement from their wintering holes to their breeding pools can be sometimes is a little tricky.

Spotted Salamander
Smiling Spotted Salamander


Cooked Frog Legs

frog legs
Over Cooked Pickerel

When hurricane Ike arrived in the Great Lakes area yesterday, it brought with it some high winds which whipped around tree branches and we had debris flying around everywhere! Yep you guessed it; my power went out about 8:30pm from a fallen tree taking down some power lines. I never got my power back until about 6pm this evening!!! This morning I was part of the crew who worked with the electricians in getting some of the lines back up! After the power was shut off we investigated where the lines had charcoaled the ground . . . . wait a second, we need to investigate this spot closer . . . . . look it’s a zapped Pickerel Frog!!! My guess is that it was electrocuted as it tried jumping away but no matter what happened the poor little froggy didn’t have a chance!!

Please Smile

Smile Mr. Toad
Please Smile Mr. Toad

Sometimes we need a reminder that it’s ok to smile! Found this sad American Toad during an evening hike last night and I just thought he looked soo sad (cute but sad)!!

Allenburg Bog

Allenburg Bog

I was in Allenburg Bog today with Dragonfly Eye who was searching for a bog Dragonfly species that has never been observed in this bog before! Obviously we didn’t locate the “Boghaunter” but we did manage to find a few Darner species and a few damselfly species.

Frogs on the Road [Video]

Wood Frog Portrait

Friday night while the Spotted Salamanders were moving, I also had an opportunity to photograph some frogs that were also crossing the road.

Little Movement Tonight

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander along the road!

I had some movement of amphibians along the roads here in Allegany State Park tonight. I ended up going home before seeing any huge numbers of Salamanders migrating to the vernal pools and doing their yearly ritual.

Wood Frogs [springtime]

Wood Frog
Looking at a Wood Frog up close!

I have been teased recently with Nina’s special evening and Tom’s spring is coming posts talking about the big “amphibian/salamander night”! Many might remember my big migration night from last year on the 27 March 2007 and you just never know when the “big night” will happen this spring . . . . well, until maybe a night or two before the big event. I was looking back on my previous dates and they ranged from the 13th of March up to the 7th of April. What I am looking for is the weather to be very warm during the day and a rainy night to happen . . . . and then you will be seeing me standing out in the rain just waiting for the amphibian migration with camera in hand !! (more…)

Amphibians – 2007 Checklist

I decided to split my 2007 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! Amphibians are the next family in my series of species that I have kept track of within Western New York State in 2007. I have taken the Amphibians and split them up between Salamanders (9) and Frogs (7).

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander (more…)

Another SWAT morning!

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler being released on the MAPS Cap

Today a family from Michigan (who are camping in Allegany for the week) visited our SWAT MAPS banding station here in Allegany State Park. They have been attending my nature walks since 1999 and joined me with my bird banding for as long as we have been friends. They have always supported our studies and volunteered to make all of our bird bags that we are using. They saved the banding station with their wonderful sowing skills and we are grateful for all they have done for us!!! (more…)

Wordless Wednesday (macro edition)

Hooded Warbler (more…)

When we finally got the rain!


Never been so close to a Bullfrog before!

Today we had strong thunderstorms that moved through the area with two Tornado warnings in the county just to the west of us. The rain came down hard given us some needed moisture into the ground. Guess this means that I will have to mow the lawn here soon? (more…)

Allegany Post by Others

Having some problems with the post I had planned! SORRY! So, here are a few other blog post that I have found that are related to the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage that everyone should check out :

Biological Ramblings – You must see the amazing herps that he found here in Allegany!

A Passion for Nature – Jen had such a wonderful time that I rarely saw her!

Dragonfly Eye  – Jeremy is amazing with the Dragonflies! Just check out the Dflies he found! Hint (Common Sanddragon)

Life in the Bristolwood was a blog that I found via a google search!

Jeff  – How cool, found also in the google search and Jeff attended my Old Growth Walk!  Would have commented but not a my space member.

Bill of the Birds – who was our Saturday evening speaker! Heck, he’s BT3 what else can I say!

While you are catching up on the recent Allegany Nature Pilgrimage post, I will figure out what went wrong with the post I had planned!!  BTW:  Wednesday morning I am doing my rescheduled SWAT – MAPS banding that was canceled due to he rain on Monday.  Expect many more great up close banding photos!

Just another Saturday

Spring Beauty

Today I cleaned out all of my Northern Saw-whet Owl boxes that I have here in the park. Hint to everyone, don’t accidentally delete your GPS coordinates or make sure you write them down somewhere before clicking “delete”. I have three boxes that I couldn’t seem to relocate and my luck is that they probably have a bird nesting in them. (more…)

Friendly Birds

Eastern Phoebe

Yesterday I took a quick walk after visiting the local casino (to play my free casino money they gave me, I didn’t loose anything). I tried focusing my time on photographing the Vesper Sparrows down on ASP Rt. 2 and wasn’t successful in relocating them. I found myself just wondering around and enjoying all the wildlife around me. The Eastern Phoebe’s (as in the picture above) were fairly numerous with the males following the females around like a lost puppy. Tree Swallows were mostly heard soaring around in search of insects while the Ospreys were actively carrying sticks to their nesting platform. I noticed that the woodfrogs and spotted salamanders have already started laying their eggs. (more…)

Salamander Migration

Spring is a magnificent time of the year when nature does so many wonderful things. This is when I find myself on a set routine waiting for the next major natural event to happen (and it normally happens right on schedule). My biggest and most favorite activity to participate in is the migration of the Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).

Spotted Salamander (more…)

Kenn Kaufman at RTPI

Kenn Kaufman spent the evening talking to many guest and members of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York. Kenn is the fourth author who has been invited to speak at the Distinguished Speaker Series at RTPI (funded through the Johnson Foundation). Kenn is best known as the author of the book Kingbird Highway and his Kaufman Focus Field Guides. Tonight was the official release date for his newest Focus Guide on the Insects of North America and it looks like a very useful guide for any nature enthusiast (I know its going in my library).

Kenn Speaking (more…)

AMPHIBIANS – My 2006 Nature Checklist

I decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! Amphibians are the next family in my series of species that I have kept track of within Western New York State. I have also taken the Amphibians and split them up between Salamanders (8) and Frogs (7).


This year I had hopes of finding a Hellbender or Long-tailed Salamander along the Allegany River Valley but just didn’t take the time to get out and find them. Maybe 2007 will bring me these two species as “lifer” yet alone 2007 Salamanders that I don’t normally find. I also didn’t take the time to head out to Audubon’s property to see any of the Four-toed Salamanders which I had done in years past.

Spotted Salamander Vernal Pool

The “Salamander Night” occurred on the 12th of March 2006 this year which is much earlier than I can ever remember in years past. There were no larger numbers of them migrating to the vernal pools this year but more scattered visits over the whole week (than just one night). If you have never heard of “Salamander Night”, it is the first “warm” rainy night in the spring where the Spotted Salamanders migrate to vernal pools to breed. Many other critters like Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers can also been seen on this big night as many of us naturalist brave the elements to assist these Salamanders in crossing the road’s (and not get squished).

The three critters of the night Spotted Salamander Eggs

Here is my list of Salamanders which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Red-spotted Newt 5. Northern Slimy Salamander
2. Northern Dusky Salamander 6. Wehrle’s Salamander
3. Allegany Dusky Salamander 7. Spotted Salamander
4. Red-backed Salamander 8. Spring Salamander

An American Toad

This was a wonderful year for me taking Frog pictures and I was able to capture all 7 species of frogs that I had seen this year! I was most proud of capturing my first ever “pictures” of a Bullfrog and Pickerel Frog. I wasn’t that successful in finding any Gray Treefrogs within the Allegany State Park area (the one species which I missed out on this year). I did see someone’s pet gray but they don’t count for my list! As most know, I have fallen in love with the Gray Treefrog ever since I first saw them in Michigan many years ago. Next years goal is finding this species here in the park (which they have been recorded vocalizing in years past). Expect the blog world to be woken up with my excitement when that happens!

Its about to jump - no bull about it This really is my first Pickerel Frog

Here is my list of Frogs which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. American Toad 5. Northern leopard Frog
2. Spring Peeper 6. Pickerel Frog
3. Bullfrog 7. Wood Frog
4. Green Frog  

cooling off in the pond Northern Leopard Frog

I can’t wait to see what amphibians in 2007 will bring me.

365 days on flickr

Thanks for an amazing 365 days!

I joined flickr one year ago and uploaded some butterfly pictures to a world which I never expected to change my life like it did. I have learned soo much from everyone and I have made such wonderful friends on the site. I helped Bird Mom in organizing camp flickr and attended some other flickr meets that have been scheduled. I have been encouraged through flickr to create this blog and share all my experiences with everyone. I started a few groups like herps and insects in the hand. So much has been learned by just looking at everyones pictures. I would like to thanks everyone for just being there for me when I need a smile. THANKS!

Pictures which made the top 500 on flickr’s explorer

What has made explorer over the past year!

1. Saying So Long for Another Season, 2. Waxwing when we use to have leaves!, 3. Herring Gulls riding the wind, 4. Northern Saw-whet Owl, 5. darner species, 6. running away newt, 7. Red House Creek, 8. a Happy Red Squirrel,

9. Summer Velvet, 10. Trouble Bears, 11. summer azure, 12. mamma and the kids, 13. cecropia moth, 14. big campfire, 15. Along the side of the road!, 16. Office Visitor,

17. Sharp-shinned Hawk, 18. can I help you with something, 19. woodfrog eggs, 20. an older monarch photo, 21. Snowdrops in the Rain, 22. Northern Saw-whet Owl, 23. Mini Me!, 24. Scotish Highland Cow,

25. Red House Lake, 26. A Summer Millipede, 27. Viceroy, 28. Gray Comma Looking a little camouflage!, 29. NSWO, 30. White Admiral

Learning about Animal Sounds

This evening at the Roger Tory Peterson Ornithological Club, we had Greg Budney present a program on Animal Sounds. Greg is the Director of the Sound Collections from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Don’t expect the Macaulay Library to be your typical library because they have very few books on their shelves! They have the largest archive of animal sounds and associated video located anywhere in the world. You can find the natural behavior/vocalizations from the large whale to your local tiny leaf hopper. They have a very long hisotry of inventorying from way back when the lab first originated.

I had an opportunity to visit the library back in 1997 when working on some studies with post nesting vocalizations of the Veery. The staff was extremely helpful with our numerous goofball questions and they gave us a wonderful tour of their facilities (3 years ago they moved into a new building). After leaving the Library, we felt more confident in capturing the needed data for the project but funding never became available and we only collected some preliminary data for the project!

Learning about Natural Sounds

Greg Budney’s program this evening didn’t consist of any slides or pictures but we solely used our ears for this program. He played some sounds from animal that are commonly heard in movies to very low frequencies of the alligator which show vibrations of water before hearing the sound. We learned how researchers use these sounds for endangered species and discovered how insects use vibrations for communications. Best part of the program was learning what a researcher accidentally hitting another research’s head with a paddle (waking them up) sounds like over the microphone. Greg was a wonderful speaker and he helped remind me how important it is to use our ears while out in the field. While leaving the Roger Tory Peterson Institute we heard a Spring Peepers vocalizing behind the building (Linda and a few others at the meeting talked about hearing these guys squeaking, glad to have heard them also).

Do visit the Macaulay Library free online Animal Behavior Archive website.

New Animal Sounds Website

Mon@rch News

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has recently released a new free website on the world’s largest collection of animal sounds. Animal Behavior Archive

I have found this site to be very user friendly and extremely valuable to anyone who needs to better understand the natural history of any particular species. I did a simple search of my all time favorite Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) with 13 results:
Here is the first Record # 85162 (link no longer works so I broke it) I found in the search! No longer working so here is my own photo and audio link.

Gray Treefrog

I recommend everyone to visit this site and take the time to learn about those special sounds you have always been curious of (like maybe a Rhinocerous or Seal).

Other sites provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology include:
Birdflu updates – Location to learn about updates of the Avian Bird flu!
All About Birds – Location to Learn about Birds!
E-bird – Location to Store all your Bird Data!

Some time between rain showers



September is appearing to be the month of rain!  I took the opportunity to get out and take some pictures between the rain showers.

Winter Wren

This Winter Wren was hanging out around the Bova area where I was looking for some snakes. What was interesting about this bird was the way it would pop up (look for an insect) and then dart back into the shrubs.  Few seconds later it would come back (eat its insect) then dart back into the shrubs!  Between all that I was able to get a few photos!

Bull Frog

This Bull Frog was located while hiking down ASP Rt. 2.  I typically encounter a splash or see a quick movement when walking along any wet area.  Rarely do I encounter or visually get a good look at these squishy little critters.  But, today was an exception. I happen to encounter it just before the big jump and started to move slowly. With a blink of an eye it disappeared into the water but just after a few clicks of the camera.   

snapping turtle

Snapping Turtles are sometimes encountered along the roadside in the spring laying their eggs.  In September you’re more than likely to find them along the waters edge looking for food.  This snapper was spending most of its time with its head underwater moving very slowly.  It seemed to peak its head out of the water, check me out and continue what it was doing.

A flickr get-together looking for Dragonflies

Took the day off of work today and spend the afternoon with Jeremy and Karen Martin Pictures over at the James A. Zaepfel Nature Sanctuary and Research Center.  Jeremy had taught me some great info on improving my dragonfly pictures and gave me info on how to identify some different dragonflies!  Here are a few thumbnails from some pictures that I took.


Taking the Pictures! Silver-Bordered Fritillary Common White Tail Shadows 

Blue Dasher Northern Leopard Frog I believe female white faced meadowhawk 

Great Spangled Fritillary Green Darner White-faced Meadowhawk