Laura Guderyahn, Watershed Restoration Coordinator for the City of Gresham, joined us at Rock Creek to train us up on survey methods for terrestrial salamanders. Six of us spent an hour and a half on hands and knees delicately searching through leaf litter, under rocks, under logs, and through the upper layers of soil trying to find these secretive animals. Three different species were found; Ensatina, Dunn’s Salamander and Rough Skinned Newt. All seven salamanders found were measured for length from snout to vent. We also noted what kind of substrate and cover they were found in.
Several salamanders were found in brush piles of ivy and blackberry that are left on site to decay. These brush piles can provide great habitat and cover! When removing a large area of an invasive plant we are also removing a lot of cover for salamanders and many other animals, so it is important to leave these brush piles behind to offer some cover.
In a natural landscape, brush piles happen without any assistance from people. In the woods, storm-felled trees and branches take on new life as havens for birds and wild animals. Toads, salamanders, insects, and spiders live in the tangled brush on the forest floor, creating a smorgasbord of delicacies. Streams at flood stage pile up fortresses of wrecked branches, where waterthrushes, common yellowthroats, catbirds, swamp sparrows, and many other species find shelter and good foraging.
Laura also showed us some Western Painted Turtle hatchling she found while surveying a pond in Gresham. She is taking them into the office to take measurements and then will release them on a sunny day back into their pond. Check out the pictures above!
Thank you Laura for taking the time to teach us about these important creatures!