We’ve finally had some serious rain here in the Bay Area. Kieran and I went up to the two research ponds on the plateau in Briones Regional Park on Saturday to look for newts (Taricha torosa), which migrate great distances every year to meet and mate in the water. A year ago, deep in drought, the ponds were shrunken and so were the newts we found. They were emaciated and skeletal, showing their ribs through their skin. A few we found last year had died on their attempt to march miles to the ponds.
But this year, happily, there seems to have been plenty of rain. The ponds are both overflowing with water, and all the newts we found and caught in our nets were well-fed and healthy looking. We walked the perimeters of both ponds, looking at “newt balls” in the water, where one female is surrounded by lots of eager males. And we stalked and caught three Pacific Treefrogs (Hyla regilla) in the tall grass by zeroing in on their calls.
We also brought home some tiny water creatures to study under the microscope. One was some sort of water flea, perhaps Daphnia, and the other a type of copepod.
We stopped on the way home to visit my father and show him some of the marine fossils Kieran found in rocks right in the trail.