January 6, 2021 - South side

January 6, 2021 (Wednesday), 11:39am - 1:43pm.
Coverage: Aldercroft Heights intersection to first stop sign.

68 dead newts (of which 3 were juveniles), 0 live newts. Many more dead newts found on the side of the road further from the reservoir. A majority were relatively fresh.

Other roadkill: One very mangled, gelatinous creature, which I'm guessing is a frog.

Weather: Mid 50s, mostly cloudy, started to sprinkle as I left.

Traffic: 22 cars; 7 bikes; 3 pedestrians

One of the dead newts was curious, on the side of the road, not flattened or mangled, but belly damaged, and mostly dried hard, almost feels petrified. I brought them home to finish petrifying.

After spending the better part of an hour putting together these observations, and fixing the way-too-many whose locations were bad, my iNat browser tab blew a gasket and I have to start over, so will get these posted when I have another chance.

Publicado por newtpatrol newtpatrol, 07 de enero de 2021

Comentarios

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@newtpartol Since it was on the side of the road, perhaps you found one of the previously-removed carcasses?

Publicado por anudibranchmom hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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good point anudibranchmom, i have always tried to send the ones i found to the reservoir side, to minimize this risk.

Publicado por joescience1 hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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@anudibranchmom that is surely possible. It wasn't far off the active road (in an open area that's like half a turnout, so not in a bush or anything), and of course hard to know for sure. In cases like this, I wonder what to do. Perhaps I'll post it with a flag that it could be a duplicate?

Publicado por newtpatrol hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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Good idea @joescience1 I will work on my flick technique - go for distance - aaaak

Publicado por anudibranchmom hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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@newtpatrol, sorry you're having so much trouble with GPS and computer problems. Is there anything other team members could do to help out?

@merav, @newtpatrol, @anudibranchmom, @joescience1, @sea-kangaroo, @karangattu , @tyap:
The roadkill count for Alma Bridge Rd. is way low this season (916 compared to 2,204 last year this time). I'm curious what impression you all have - is it the meager amount of rainfall? diminished newt population? HTH not sharing all roadkill in the "extremely high mortality" regions with us? What do you think?

Publicado por truthseqr hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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@truthseqr: with regards to your question, i wondered the same thing. my last survey of the southern section was the first time i had done that side, but i thought 17 seemed low. when you show those numbers it raises lots of questions. it will be curious to see what the totals look like at the end of the counting season. i'll hypothesize that HTH sections are having an impact, especially given those were placed in high impact zones as identified by our data.

@newtpatrol: with regards to the flicking... i feel you, it's yucky at best.

Publicado por joescience1 hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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I'd think it's a combination. It's definitely very dry, with fewer rain days and less rain as well as a late start. The north side in particular (which I think always had higher mortality than the south side?) has quite a bit of its length taken up by the midpen plots, and on days like today where there's a pretty continuous chain of roadkill newts the gaps where the plots are is obvious on my observation map.

I haven't had GPS troubles so I don't know that I have any useful advice, but I've been using this Android app for GPS (& then using HoudahGeo to attach coordinates to my camera photos) instead of the iNat app + phone photos: https://gpslogger.app

Publicado por sea-kangaroo hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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I actually don't mind newt-flinging (although a few mangled fresh ones were pretty icky this time), and, at the risk of sounding callous, I find it interesting to see where they end up, sometimes hanging dramatically from a bush, or, like once last time, plastered smack in the middle of a guardrail, which I couldn't have done if I tried. I do try to get them far off the road though since it's in all of our best interests.

As for newt counts @truthseqr, it's hard to tell the cause, especially given the HTH project, and I agree with @sea-kangaroo that it's likely a combination of factors, including (maybe particularly) the dry winter so far. Which makes me wonder what they do if the rains never come. When I've looked in the HTH bins on the south side I haven't yet seen a newt, nor any dead on the road in their area, so I've been wondering if it's just my timing with them removing them, or is that a control section, placed somewhere intentionally with low count. On the rain front, perhaps that will become more obvious if/when we get a good soaking rain around there. It was wonderful, yet frustrating, to be house-sitting for a friend off of Skyline/LaHonda where it poured most of this past Monday, they surely got several inches, and I came home to less than .25" at home in Campbell. Damn rain shadow.

Regarding the GPS locations, I don't use the iNat app at all, I just take photos with my phone app and have geotagging enabled. Usually this works fine, but I have had occasional issues elsewhere with this phone, even when it was new, so perhaps it's just getting more flaky and I should splurge on a new one. I could easily try another camera app and see if that makes a difference (although think I tried that last year and it didn't help). Or maybe I'll try using a separate GPS app, but I was really hoping to avoid adding yet another step to the process, which should theoretically be unnecessary. Thanks for the info on how you do it @sea-kangaroo.

Last week I was deep in forest and creek gulleys fungus-hunting, and posted a lot of observations without having this problem (although did have a new error on a few related to location which I've never had, and which is also a PITA to fix in the iNat upload.) I also find it interesting that I can upload 65 fungus (or any other) observations at once without the upload window barfing, but rarely can upload 65 newt observations without something bad happening, such that I generally keep it to batches of around 30-40, same behavior happened last year. I missed one of my callings as a beta-tester, breaking software in unusual ways is one of my superpowers.

Publicado por newtpatrol hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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@newtpatrol- i too have flung the poor things onto a tree, making them look like some sadistic xmas tree ornament. #newtshrike :(

when i did the southern section last week, i checked the HTH tubs and didn't find any either. i know it was before the morning check as they passed me heading that direction (silver Toyota Tacoma lic# HTH17 and another in a personal vehicle) took about 20 min, and one vehicle returned back towards the northern section.

When i did the northern section there were dozens in several sections checked, most seemingly on the reservoir side.

curious to see the data at the end of the season.

Publicado por joescience1 hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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I would guess it's the rain + HTH plots. I do have many of their photos to upload, but it very time consuming, so I'm hoping to do it this upcoming week. How's the rain compared with last year? I think it's much drier, isn't it?
@newtpatrol - I have issues with coordinates from time to time - I'll have random photos with less specific coordinates. I started taking at least 2 photos of each observation, and I try to only use the second one (and I have a backup if I need it). It works very well - in the last couple of times I had no issues. I think when I turn the camera on (regular iPhone camera app) it doesn't always have the right coordinates, but by the 2nd photo it's fine.

Publicado por merav hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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@newtpatrol, @merav, @joescience1, @sea-kangaroo, @anudibranchmom, @karangattu: below is an enlarged section of the map for this season's project. Notice that many GPS markers are off the road; some are in the hills, in the reservoir or in the creek. Since mitigation efforts will eventually be based on high mortality sections of road, I think it's important for the GPS coordinates to be as close to actual as possible. When I was doing patrols and I noticed the GPS markers were off road in iNat, I manually moved the markers onto the road (with a red error perimeter to indicate they were manually moved).

Another odd thing about this map is that the highlighted Lexington County Park boundaries don't always include the road. But oddly, iNat doesn't exclude any of our observations saying they're outside the park boundaries.

Map

Publicado por truthseqr hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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I had a horrible event yesterday... i had a newt specimen i removed last week, in a ziploc bag i was going to place it in a specimen jar in alcohol, to use in my classes. My son found it still moving after a week, missing 1/2 its intestines. It was so sad, but i dispatched it as quickly as possible. Ugh. :(

Publicado por joescience1 hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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OMG, @joescience1!! That's really horrible. I'm so sorry you and your son had that awful experience. Those kinds of things haunt me for a long time. The injured ones are particularly hard to bear.

Publicado por truthseqr hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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@joescience1 - this is so gross!

Publicado por merav hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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i felt so bad for it. it seemed dead, and while it was more intact that most, it had obviously been run over... i'm not sure how it was still alive after the car, let alone in a bag for a week. low and slow metabolism i guess played a part.

i immediately thought to try to rehab it, but it was obviously severely injured. in checking it in the observation and photos clearly show the damage inflicted. :(

RIP little one.

Publicado por joescience1 hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)
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Oh no, @joescience1, that is a terrible thing, both for the newt and you. Thanks for sharing the story, that will make me think twice when flinging. I will hope that the life of the newt was long gone, and just electrical twiches remained a week later. Snakes can keep moving (and react, and bite) for many hours after being seemingly killed, but after a week... wow.

Publicado por newtpatrol hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)

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