Sunday, 18 October 2015

Caudata Surprise

Today was overcast with a bit of rain in the morning, but nothing that would keep us inside.  We decided to try one of the regional parks outside of Nanaimo for something new.  It was not long before we came across these two Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii) which was a great surprise as I had never seen this species before.
Two Ensatina found under some leaf litter

 An interesting note about this species is that they are entirely terrestrial, rarely (if ever) entering standing water (something rare for amphibians).  If threatened, Ensatina will rise up on all four legs and caudal lure (a process where the tail is wiggling to distract a potential predator).  If continually harassed the Ensatina will deliberately brake off its tail at the base leaving the wiggling appendage behind while the salamander escapes.  This individual appeared to have had enough of my interactions that it started to raise the tail.  It was released back to where it was found to prevent appendage loss (the process of regrowing a tail would be calorically costly).

Ensatina arching its tail and secreting a little bit of white noxious poison

After completing this trail we decided to try our luck at the Englishman River Estuary.  Tide was in so we hoped to see a plethora of birds.  American Wigeon were high in numbers, as were Northern Pintails with Black Bellied Plover, Dunlin and Long-Billed Dowitchers being the interesting shorebirds.  Sadly no Black Turnstone to be found or Pacific Golden Plover to be seen, both reported in this location earlier in the month).

Along the ocean side, I was awarded with a good number of Pacific Loon as well as a single Red Throated Loon and an Eared Grebe.  There were many other birds observed but the loons and grebe were the prized sights.  This was my first time visiting this birding location, and I am certain I will visit this location frequently.

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