Critter Count 2012

It’s spring here in the northern hemisphere.  Or the calendar says so.

And every spring, for the past 6-7 years, we’ve gone to the Critter Count organized by the Water Resources Education Center, in Vancouver, Washington.  It’s lots of fun, and we look forward to going each year.

We especially enjoy going with Char Corkran, who leads and takes a group to one of the four sites they are studying.  Siena especially loves listening to what she has to say about the critters we find, and follows her as we search under rocks, logs, water, and everything around that can be of shelter for the amphibians and reptiles we are looking for.

We meet everyone at the Center for a lecture and training on how to do the research and the count.

We pick the site we want to go to, and this year we went to CASEE Center.  It has two ponds where we did the counts with the help from the students who go to the school.

We first found some tadpoles.

And then…. Oh my! Look at this!

No matter where you look at it, I think this Northwestern Salamander is my favorite.

Look at the gills. Beautiful!

And Char, is just amazing.  Siena and Lucas always enjoy their time with her on this outing.

We had to measure the salamanders we found.  Complete measurement from head to tail, and then from head to behind the the legs (because sometimes they loose their tail, so this is a more accurate measurement.)

And another salamander.

I know, I had to put it in my header of the blog. Who can resist!

There are lots of families who come to this event. And at this site, there are students who go to this center from different schools to take their electives, so they know this place.  We get help from them and we help them count and see what they have in their traps.

We found lots of Bullfrogs, but a whole lot less than last time we were there…. 3 or 4 years ago.  Look at this tadpole. HUGE!

They can be tadpoles and stay in this stage for two years, while the other frogs, native from our area, remain tadpoles for just one spring.

We kept looking and found some egg masses.  One that you can’t really pick up because it falls off your hands.

And this other kind, that keeps its shape.

The green algae inside you can see, it’s part of a symbiosis, helping the eggs because it produces the oxygen the eggs need to survive.

I don’t get tired of these eyes.

Or seeing the gills.

This is a Rough-skinned newt.

Cute, but make sure you don’t touch them or put your fingers in your mouth after you touch it.  Wash your hands very well.

After spending a while by the ponds, we headed to the forest area.

Someone lifts up the log while the others look and see if something moves.  Be prepared to catch!

We found a Common garter snake.

As opposed to the snakes we saw in India, this is not poisonous.

Even though the weather was telling us otherwise, we saw signs of spring.

Fiddleheads.

Blackberry.

Red-winged blackbird.

And at the end they gave us a special treat while we gathered all the supplies and colected the data.

As we are getting ready to leave, this huge group of Canadian geese flew from the fields next door.

I don’t know how many hundreds.

But they didn’t take long to form the “V” and fly over us.  What a beautiful day out of doors!  These geese though… I surely miss them and their sounds when we were gone last fall.  Welcome back!

This entry was posted in family, homeschooling, locals, Oregon, outdoors, Science, spring. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Critter Count 2012

  1. Such a sweet homeschooling outing! How lucky our children are!

  2. Hi Catherine.
    Yes, we look forward to this event every year. it’s really fun.

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