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


The Nature Conservancy

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander

Exciting News: The Nature Conservancy has recently published an article on Critical Linkages: Resolving the Conflict Between Roads and Wildlife. With permission TNC used video footage of the Spotted Salamanders that I have filmed here in Allegany State Park. They also used the above photo in the cover of the Massachusetts Nature Conservancy Newsletter.

Salamander Movement Tonight

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander Smile

Allegany State Park has had some outstanding temperatures recently and I have been anticipating this night for the past few weeks! The migration of the Spotted Salamander starts each spring when these yellow spotted creatures emerge from the ground and slowly work their way towards their breeding pools.

Nature Haikus – Salamanders

Spotted Salamander in the Water
Spotted Salamander

By Young Naturalist C, Young Naturalist E and Adele

Slick salamanders
Roaming in the wet, wild woods
Looking for their love

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


Last Nights Salamanders

Spotted Salamander
You need to be fast for the perfect Salamander photo!

By 8pm the migration had not started yet . . . . . but our sprinkles were quickly turning into heavier drops!! We investigated the Vernal Pools again by 10:30pm and were welcomed by a few amphibians just starting their migration! The migration of the Spotted Salamanders only happen a few nights a year when we receive the first warm rain of the season. I am busy with my time right now but promise my next post will include the full details on our amazing night!!   Here are just a few teaser photos for everyone!

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.

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…)

Less Daylight Hours and Spotted Salamanders

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander heading towards the woods.

I did a post almost 7 months ago on the migration of the Spotted Salamander. Each spring these large salamanders come out of the ground and migrate to special mud puddles called vernal pools. It is in these vernal pools where they breed and the females will lay their eggs. It is such an amazing spring time event and who would expect that I would find two of these salamanders crossing the roads during mid October (going the opposite direction?)? (more…)

Northern Slimy Salamander

Northern Slimy Salamander
Northern Slimy Salamander

While out on the Conservation Trail last week, I came across a few Northern Slimy Salamanders under some logs. They are cute little salamanders but think twice before picking them up!! Their skin has a secretion that is very sticky and hard to wash off your hands!! Hello . . . that’s why they call them “slimy” salamanders!! They are identified out in the field bytheir shiny black coloring and white spots.


Purple Headed Sneezeweed

Purple Headed Sneezeweed (all-time fave flower)

Yesterday I took a family that I have known for a very long time into the Big Basin area (old growth forest) of Allegany State Park. We had a wonderful time looking at the many old trees and then a few other unexpected treasures. We have an ongoing joke about how whenever I take them for a walk we somehow end up off trail and “sort of” get lost! I couldn’t let them down this year so everywhere we hiked “it was” off trail!! (more…)

Mudpuppy in Allegany

Mudpuppy in Allegany

During the kids fishing derby this weekend the DEC staff biologist were on site to hand-out educational information on fishing, etc. . . . they had also captured a few fish to placed into a fish tank for everyone to view up close! But, what was most amazing is that when they were capturing the minnows and fish . . . . they came across a mudpuppy along the waters edge. He stated that they witnessed this mudpuppy entangled with a little Water Snake. And it was the mudpuppy that had the upper end of the snake battle!! I call that “salamander power” and would have LOVED to see that battle!! (more…)


red eft

When it rains the Red-Efts come out!

Unwanted Visitor at the SWAT site!

Juv Downy Woodpecker

A very light colored juvenile Downy Woodpecker

We had a wonderful day banding birds over at the SWAT MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding station today. We had a family visit who has been camping here in the park for a very long time, two couples from buffalo make it down, Young Naturalist C (who was the Banding Assistant for the day) and her sister Young Naturalist E visit the banding station. But, you ask, “who was the unwanted visitor??”!! I will get to it . . . . I promise!! (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!

Bluebirds, Phoebe and Osprey

There have been soooo many “nature” things going on and I don’t even know where to start. I got back from Massachusetts on Sunday and realized that all 4-5 inches of snow had melted. These are the wonderful turning points in the weather where I could be spending all my time focused on the critters (but I need to work to pay the bills). I quickly opened all my windows so my kitties could get some fresh air and there was the “wonderful” sound of Eastern Bluebirds down near my bluebird box. Monday morning the Bluebirds were actively adding nesting material to the box and I plan on trying to get a video clip of them once I get a little more time.

Eastern Phoebe



Depending on where you live in the world, March 20th or March 21st is your official Equinox with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. To celebrate this important “natural” holiday you can make many wonderful camping style treats for your Equinox party. The dessert called “DIRT” is one of my favorites:


3 pkgs of instant vanilla pudding *

4 ½ cups milk *

1 u oz pkg Cream Cheese (room temperature)

1 carton Cool Whip (room temperature)

1 pkg Oreo Cookies (frozen)

Gummy Worms

Mix vanilla pudding, milk and cream cheese together. Fold in cool whip. Chop cookies in blender or food processor. Layer (starting with cookies and ending with cookies) one of cookies, then pudding mix, then cookies, etc. Top with Gummy Worms.

*1 large pudding and 3 cups milk can be substituted.

It is always good to see dirt after a long winter. I figured this Dirt Dessert would be right up everyone’s alley. Don’t forget your gummy worms!! Happy Equinox and I have a ton of things to write about but very little time to get it posted. I am trying to get ready for my Eastern Bird Banding Association conference at Cape Cod this weekend (well leaving on Thursday). Lets hope that the big “Salamander Migration Night” doesn’t happen while I am at the Cod! 

BTW: Had my first Fox Sparrow of the year today!!  CHECK!

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

Following the Pot of Gold

A rainbow appeared around 3pm today after a constant 20 hours of rain. I just needed to open my windows due to temperatures being above average (71.2°F) and I wanted my cats to get some outside smells.  I had full intentions on going to Wal-Mart for some needed groceries but something told me to try to find that gold (or fluff ball) at the end of that rainbow!

OWL Photo taken by Birdmom in mid October during the Camp Flicker Event.

I have found myself reenergized after the opportunity of meeting Scott Weidensaul yesterday. We had some wonderful discussions on owl banding and I feel it helped me remember how important it is to get out each evening to study these owls.

As the sun started to set, I started asking questions like “will I continue to capture birds later than the previous two seasons”, “Could birds still be hanging around” or “could I capture any new birds tonight”?? All questions which I anticipate answering after another wonderful warm evening.

On my first net check there was a recaptured Northern Saw-whet Owl from a few nights previous but with this rain there weren’t any surprise that it was still hanging around. I did not expect that newly captured bird caught only minutes before a mini rain storm that hit. This has been my 31st bird this season.  During the 4th hour of operation the nets were closed due to a larger storm that started to approached from the south. Thank goodness for nexrad radar for giving me the heads up on this storm.

Redbacked Salamander

It’s so hard to believe that snow and more rain is predicted for the next few evenings. I saw numerous Redbacked Salamanders running along the the leaves and logs while closing my nets. It almost feels like April Showers without any of the May flowers. I don’t expect to open again until next Monday or Tuesday! 

FYI: I would like to thank my friend Bill Adams who blogged one of my owl photos from this site. Please check it out at: