Canadian Conservation Corps Interns; Ryan and Claire, along with staff member Aiesha – have spent numerous days mapping out milkweed habitats and setting up new monarch monitoring sites at various Nature Reserves. The new protocols for this pilot project are currently being tested in the field by our new Citizen Science volunteer teams!
Featured above are their visit to Ron Reid NR to finish mapping monarch breeding habitats and test sampling protocols. They also hiked into Sweetwater Nature Reserve’s new loop trail to visit one of the meadow habitats where their first monarch monitoring team (Susan and Mary Ellen) were trained and got practice at identifying the Monarch eggs and caterpillars. The meadows were alive with insect life and starting to look especially beautiful with the Wild Bergamot in bloom, and the Goldenrod just starting to turn yellow.
When the bugs are biting, and you’re thinking twice about going out in the forest, you have to remember that there are always interesting things to find that will (hopefully) make you forget about the buzzing insects for a while!
This was the case when Ruth, Nancy, and Toby went out in search of Salamanders and their eggs. Once out at the salamander monitoring site they started finding and identifying Spotted Salamander egg masses, found a few Green Frogs here and there and also the odd Eastern Newt darting away. One newt in particular stuck around and was behaving differently than the others. After crouching down in the water to get a video they realized that it was a male Eastern Newt displaying to a female! In the video below, you can see the male has a deep tail fin which he is undulating in order to attract a female. You can also see his back legs are much bigger with hard black pads. These form so he can hold onto the female. You can see that at one point he deposits a spermatophore, which she didn’t seem too interested in. After a while the female seemed to realize that she could find a better display elsewhere and moved on!