Lately I've been taking about an hour and a half each morning to explore the first part of the trail, since I am usually anxious to get home and continue unpacking and hanging pictures.
Today it was muggy and buggy already at 7:15, but I did see some interesting things:
|Coyote scat in the trail.|
This scat has obviously weathered and is several months old; I don't know why I missed it before, it's right in the middle of the trail. You can see a small furry mammal was dinner.
|An Amanita mushroom coming up in the middle|
of the trail. These are beautiful but poisonous.
|Mountain Laurel blooming and two well-behaved|
dogs waiting while I take the photo. Laurel (Kalmia
latifolia) is also poisonous. One of its common
names is "Sheepkill."
|My favorite critter (favorite amphibian, |
anyway) the red eft.
The red eft is a salamander, the terrestrial juvenile of the Eastern Newt. This newt starts out in water, hatching from eggs, and the greenish-brown larval form has feathery gills. It then transforms into a red eft, loses its gills and takes to the land for two to four years, traveling far to find a new pond and thus prevent inbreeding. Once it finds a pond, it transforms again into a breeding aquatic adult with slimy olive green skin and black rimmed red spots. They breed in late winter or early spring. During their courtship dance, the male deposits a "sperm packet" on the bottom of the pond which the female picks up to fertilize the eggs she is already carrying. She then proceeds to deposit 200-400 eggs, but only a few each day, and then abandons them. The larvae hatch in 3 - 8 weeks, and only about 2% of them make it to the red eft stage.
Newts are carnivorous; the efts eat snails, springtails and soil mites; the larvae and adults eat worms, insects, fish eggs and other small aquatic animals. They in turn can be eaten by birds, fish, turtles or mammals, but this predation is usually deterred by their toxic skin. The eft's orange color serves as a warning to potential predators of their toxicity, so they are rarely eaten.snails, spring tails, and soil mitessnails, so they ar, so the,