Thursday, July 30, 2009

The creatures that lurk in the stream....

As a part of the stream restoration event held in our yard last week, the guys from Adopt-A-Stream put a few live traps in the stream overnight to get a feel for what is or is not living in this section of Little Swamp Creek. The traps were baited with punctured cans of cat food. I know that is a BAD picture, but I just had to put it on here anyway. Here's what those traps looked like out of the water -

This is a second style of trap that they used, and what it caught -

We had not seen any crayfish or any evidence of crayfish (parts left behind by raccoons, for example...) in the stream for several years, so we were pretty excited to see that they are still living in there.

Then we saw this from another trap -

Woo hoo! That is two crayfish, a sculpin and a Pacific giant salamander! What you have to realize is that all we see when looking in the stream during the day are some small (2-4") fish (probably cutthroat trout or coho fry) zipping around, caddisfly larvae crawling along the stream bottom, and water skeeters on top of the water. Those are great, but this was an amazing discovery and so encouraging as indicators of a relatively healthy stream!

Here's a SECOND salamander, from a different trap -

Mighty cute!

One trap caught only sculpin -

I probably must emphasize here that Adopt-A-Stream had a permit to trap and release in the stream. They didn't keep these creatures out for very long, but it was just the perfect thing for Eric and I and the students from The LEAF School to see what inhabits the stream.

Interestingly enough, there weren't any of the little fry that we see zipping around in the stream. Unfortunately they are food for these other creatures and if any were trapped they may have been eaten. Oops.

Later in the day, CK and Loren from Adopt-A-Stream collected macro-invertebrates from the stream bed so the LEAF School students could figure out what was there. I'll talk more about all of the amazing learning opportunities AAS set up in a later post, but for now here is a picture of some of what they found -

And finally, here is a critter that just happened to show up at the right place at the right time for some ooo-ing and ah-ing and a picture -

I'm afraid that it might be a young bullfrog, which I don't think is a good thing for the native amphibians. I haven't been able to identify it yet, so if anybody out there reading this can tell me what this is, please do!


  1. Great photos! I think the frog is a pacific chorus frog because of the thick brown line across the eye. The bull frogs have those circles near the eye. I can't seem to copy the link I found with photos. But google frog identification key and check out the NPWRC site on the USGS page.

  2. Thank you so much VFL!! For the compliment and the information. I'm very happy to see that it must have been a chorus frog! We hear them every year off in the distance in nearby wetlands (and a neighborhood retention pond), but haven't heard or seen them in our yard before. Another great surprise!