Showing posts with label nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nature. Show all posts


Easy steps to caring about the environment instead of just lecturing and protesting as if you care.

My brother sent me this photo last summer, of dad holding a salamander. I can see, by the background, that we had salamanders in the Quonset.

This is not the first time that's happened.

About fifteen years ago I wrote a blog post about my efforts to catch and release lots of salamanders that were in the farm shop and Quonset. On occasion, when I run into someone who was a regular reader of my blog back in the day, they remember that post. I'm not sure why; perhaps some were traumatized by the photo of a bucket of squirming salamanders.

I've always loved salamanders. I think they're about the cutest thing around. I love picking them up, and having their little feet crawl across my hand and arm. I have spent hours watching and studying them. I swerve to miss them on roads. On those days when there are mass quantities out on the roads and highways, crossing from one side to the next, I try not to go anywhere because I don't want to run over them.

Now that I live in town, I see them far, far less, of course. Perhaps that's why my brother sent the photo; dad is certainly aware of my obsession with salamanders. (Suggestion: Watch the Disney movie "The Rescuers Down Under" just to watch Joanna, the ridiculous salamander.)

I used to have a photo album on social media that I entitled "Things I've held in my hand" and it had pictures of giant moths, wounded birds, salamanders, frogs, a dead snake, feathers, skunk skulls...unless it has eight legs, I'll probably pick it up to examine it.

Anyway, for those who enjoyed that old blog post, I thought I'd run it for you again, after all these years.


5 Easy Steps To Rescue A Species

This is not intended for the squeamish.

1. Collect the necessary gear.

In this photo, you see that I have collected all the technical gear I will need, which included a battery-powered flashlight (torch, for my British readers), 5 gallon bucket (don’t know the metric on that, for my British readers), and plastic protective gloves (emphasized in the photo). Not pictured: pith helmet and cotton rope.

2. Decide on a species to rescue, and locate them.

Deciding upon the salamander as my own personal spotted owl, I was informed that they were “piled on top of each other like snakes in the shop pit.” Clearly, the critters needed help. You’ll note in the photos below the quantity of trapped salamanders.

A number appeared to be making escape efforts, although they consistently fell back to the concrete with a thud. Disheartening, I am sure.

I was, however, able to pick out Steve McQueen from those attempting to escape.

Clearly these critters desired freedom. Although salamanders at the opposite end needed rescuing, they were rescued later. Heavy evidence of spider infestation from low level boards prevented immediate action on my part until I could get assistance in removing the webs. Spiders? No thanks.

3. Rescue the species.

Attaching a rope to the bucket, I lowered the container in place. I then climbed down the rickety ladder into the pit. Snapping on a pair of gloves, I grasped each creature gently and deposited it into the bucket. After reaching 25 in my count, I lost patience and began to grab them by the handfuls. My best estimate is of around 60 salamanders. I knew I had to act quickly, as the critters at the bottom would not be able to breathe well under that pile.

4. Locate new habitat suitable for species.

Locating a stagnant and insect-filled pond was relatively simple here in the pothole region of Northeast North Dakota.

5. Release species into the wild.

I tipped the bucket over, but the salamanders were hesitant to exit the container.

After some encouragement, they began to rush out of the bucket with much scratching and wriggling, crawling across the rocks and sliding into the water.

It was a thing of beauty, indeed.

The evidence of a slough newly filled with nearly 60 amphibians was evident, as much splashing could be seen and heard as the salamanders leaped to the surface to catch insects. They appeared to be small sea monsters as their heads and tails broke the surface of the water for lunch.

Summary of actions taken

This five-step plan allows even the most reluctant individual to enjoy being an environmentalist. Instead of living in a city of concrete and steel and harping on those who live in rural areas for not being environmentally sound, you can take an active role in “saving the environment."

Let's have a closer look at the rescued species:

Let’s have a closer look at the newly adjusted species as they enjoy the natural environment they’ve been placed in.

Is there any grander creature than the salamander? I question your answer if it's anything but no.


What keeps you up at night?

Once upon a midnight dreary,
While I slept, weak and weary,
There came a scratching at my bedroom window.
And that was pretty much the end of a decent night's sleep.

My bedroom is in the basement, and its window, with a deep well surrounded by corrugated metal, is known for periodically trapping critters down there who die of starvation and exposure if I don't find them in time.

It's terrible, really. I look out my window and have this glassed chamber of death to observe.

Last night, around 3 a.m., I heard a frantic scratching at the window. It wouldn't go away, no matter how hard I willed it to.

I got my flashlight from the bed stand, and went to the window. The beam of light shot through the glass and I could see the critter, clamoring for the light. It was cute, but not at 3 a.m. Or at 3:30 a.m. Or at 4 and onward, which is how long the racket continued.

Clearly, it was frantic to get out.

I don't blame it.

There were the remains of two little mice who had the misfortune to get trapped in there while I was gone for the weekend. No doubt it was terrifying to realize you'd fallen into a pit of death with little sustenance beyond some weeds.

I tried to sleep, but it was mostly an orchestra of scratching at the window and grumbling under the covers. Periodically I'd go to the window with the flashlight to yell some vague threats only to see a little head and paws pop up at the edge, begging for salvation.

Now, with the sense that comes with daylight when the befuddled illogical thinking of night has been pushed away, I see that the decision I should have made was to just go sleep on the couch. But, at the time, I had this thought that the little critter might chew his way through the wood or the window latch and get into my room and I ought to stick around just in case that happened to keep him from getting to the rest of the house.

This is a non-story, really, other than to explain I'm super tired today and that if some emotive reporter thought to ask me what keeps me awake at night, the answer would not be some kind of deep philosophy, but would be simple instead: rodents.

(Yes, the critter was safely removed in the morning and sent on its merry way.)