Journal archives for January 2019

January 06, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 29 found dead today; no live ones seen

December 31, 2018 (Monday)
Thankfully, I only found 1 fresh carcass today. I took pictures of 155 partially decomposed carcasses, and after comparing the photos with previous days, I ended up adding only 28 to the project.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2018/12/31

It was cold and windy. My sense is that about half the carcasses from last week (12/25/2018) have completely decomposed or dried up and blown away.

Other Roadkill: Columbian Black-tailed Deer, beetle

Coverage: (52%) Today I surveyed Alma Bridge Rd. between St. Joseph's Hill and Aldercroft Rd.

Rainfall: (MTD: 2.73 in; YTD: 6.21 in) It hasn’t rained all week.

Note: This journal post was updated on 02/10/2019 with the latest information: fresh vs. decomposed carcasses, % Coverage, Rainfall, and link to observations.

Posted on January 06, 2019 11:09 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 130 found dead today; 2 alive; Total death toll >1,000

January 6, 2019 (Sunday)
There were 130 newt carcasses on Alma Bridge Rd. this morning: 114 fresh, 16 decomposed. There were relatively few decomposed carcasses from the last couple of weeks. The cumulative death count is now 1,070.

I saw 2 live newts on Priest Rock Trail.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/1/6
(photos of dead newts were originally submitted in groups of 10 per observation, but later decoupled)

Coverage: (65%) Today I surveyed Alma Bridge Rd. between St. Joseph's Hill OSP and Soda Springs Rd.

Rainfall: (MTD: 1.27 in; YTD: 7.48 in) It rained yesterday (Saturday) and it was raining this morning. After ten days without rain, we've had 1.14 inches in two days.

Note: This journal post was updated on 02/10/2019 with the latest information: fresh vs. decomposed carcasses, % Coverage, Rainfall, and link to observations.

Posted on January 06, 2019 11:13 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 12, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 183 found dead today; no live ones seen

January 9, 2019 (Wednesday)
I took 250 pictures of newt roadkill on this short stretch of Alma Bridge Rd. in one hour.

There were 139 fresh newt carcasses (i.e., the belly was bright orange/yellow or there was fresh blood). In addition, there were 111 partially decomposed carcasses. For these, I had to compare each one to all previous observations to make sure they weren’t counted twice. This was a very time-consuming and tedious process that involved hundreds of visual comparisons, but I think it’s important to go through this exercise in order to have an accurate death count. (I wish I had visual comparison software to do this for me!) I ended up adding 44 out of 111 to the project.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2018/1/9
(photos of dead newts were originally submitted in groups of 10 per observation, but later decoupled)

Coverage: (30%) I surveyed Alma Bridge Rd. between St. Joseph's Hill OSP and Los Gatos Rowing Club

Rainfall: (MTD: 1.31 in; YTD: 7.52 in) We've had 1.3 inches of rain in the past 5 days, and it was raining this morning.

Traffic: There wasn't much traffic on the road this morning: several white pickups (Santa Clara County maintenance?), one MROSD ranger truck, one police van, a heavy truck scraping fallen rocks (and probably dead newts) off the road, and several cars and SUVs. I didn't see any semi-trucks coming from or going to the quarry.

Note: This journal post was updated on 02/10/2019 with the latest information: fresh vs. decomposed carcasses, % Coverage, Rainfall, Traffic, and link to observations.

Posted on January 12, 2019 11:59 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 13, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 363 found dead; 2 alive; 1 fatally injured

January 12, 2019 (Saturday)
I took 508 pictures of dead newts this morning: 272 fresh, 236 decomposed. After comparing the decomposed newt pictures to those from previous days, I ended up adding 91 of the 236 to the project; the others were either duplicates or too decayed to recognize. Total added to project: 363

I saw 2 live newts. One was mutilated – its injuries were surely fatal. It painfully lifted its head up and down. It brought tears to my eyes.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2018/1/12

Coverage: (76%) I surveyed the section between Priest Rock Trailhead and Aldercroft Rd.

Rainfall: (MTD: 1.65 in; YTD: 7.86 in) It rained the last few days and the street was wet this morning.

Traffic: There was a lot of traffic due to an event at the Los Gatos Rowing Club (LGRC). I saw 61 cars parked along the road near the LGRC and their parking lot was full. Cars were coming and going in a steady stream. I'd guess a couple hundred cars passed through there this morning.

Note: This journal post was updated on 02/10/2019 with the latest information: fresh vs. decomposed carcasses, % Coverage, Rainfall, Traffic, and link to observations. The total count was also updated.

Posted on January 13, 2019 12:01 AM by truthseqr truthseqr | 6 comments | Leave a comment

January 15, 2019

73 Dead; 2 Alive; Total Death Toll: 1,672

January 14, 2019 (Monday)
I returned to check on the dead newts I marked for studying the decomposition rate (I put a dot of purple nail polish near them so I could tell them apart from the hundreds of other carcasses on the road).

I covered as much of the road as I could in the 2 hours I had available. I spot-checked parts of Alma Bridge Rd. between Douglas B. Miller Memorial Point and Aldercroft Heights Rd. I also walked the entire length of the road between Los Gatos Rowing Club and Vulcan quarry entrance.

There were 65 newly dead newts (bright orange/yellow belly and/or bright red blood). There were also lots of decomposing carcasses, many of which are now just a slimy mushy splat on the road. I didn't photograph all of them - it takes too long to make the necessary comparisons with previous observations to ensure no duplicates are added to the project. I ended up adding 7 decomposed observations for a total of 73 dead.

This means I am likely under-reporting the deaths on the road by quite a significant amount. I do what I can with the time I have.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/1/14 (photos of dead newts submitted in groups of 10 per observation)

I saw two healthly newts on the road this morning heading toward the reservoir. I helped both across the road. On closer inspection of the picture, I noticed that one of the newts had an injured tail.

Rainfall: there has been 0.07 inches of rain since I was last here. There was light rain this morning and the road was wet. Monthly rainfall (Jan): 1.72 inches

Traffic: Not much traffic this morning: about 10 cars/SUVs, 6 pickups (SCC Water, SCC Parks, & private), 6 heavy trucks leaving the Vulcan quarry.

Posted on January 15, 2019 03:45 AM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Reasons why roadkill may be significantly under-reported

Here are some reasons why the newt roadkill on Alma Bridge Rd. may be significantly under-reported.

1. Most of the time I'm not able to cover the entire 6.6 mile length of Alma Bridge Road. I walk both sides of the road, so the entire hike is 13.2 miles. It takes about 4-5 hours to walk the entire length taking pictures. Some days (during the week) I only have a couple hours to do this work. I'm keeping a spreadsheet that shows the percentage of coverage for each day I go to the site. I've only covered 100% on two weekends.

2. Carcasses disappear from the road over time. @merav and walked between Limekiln and Priest Rock trailheads one Saturday morning, and she shares this info: "By the way - I was there again in the afternoon for a hike, and was surprised to see that almost all the newts we saw in the morning just by the limekiln trailhead were gone. In the morning there were at least 10 dead newts. By 4 pm they were all gone, but 1 that was still there."

3. We have not taken into account the effect that scavengers may have on newt roadkill count. According to Greg Pauly, Curator of Herpetology, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, "Raccoons, skunks, otters, crows, and ravens are all known predators of newts. While garter snakes swallow newts whole and therefore get exposed to the full dose of toxins (which of course is highly variable across species and populations within species), these bird and mammal predators tend to slit the animals up the belly and then eat the muscle tissue inside, often pulling limbs out. This leaves behind most of the organs and the skin with some or all of the limbs turned inside-out."

4. I've seen crows eating the newt carcasses on several occasions:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19649069
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19649066
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19476078

5. I've also seen beetles that appear to be eating newt carcasses:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19375712
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19354057
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19184311

6. When there's a lot of rain, the carcasses tend to turn to mush rather quickly and they look like grayish splats on the road. You wouldn't even know they're newt roadkill unless you know what to look for. I'm not adding those to the project - there are a lot of them, but I can't even begin to quantify how many.

Posted on January 15, 2019 01:47 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 3 comments | Leave a comment

January 17, 2019

99 Dead; no live ones seen

January 16, 2019 (Wednesday)
I found 96 fresh newt carcasses (i.e., belly was bright orange/yellow and/or there was bright red blood).
See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/1/16

I also found 45 partially decomposed carcasses. I'll have to compare these with previous observations to make sure no duplicates are added to the project. This might take several days or weeks. Just be aware that the total roadkill for this date could jump to 141 if all decomposed ones are added to the project.

Other roadkill: I also found the following roadkill: arboreal salamander, bullfrog, black-tailed deer

Coverage: I only covered about 1/3 of the study area today because I only had 2 hours to spend. The road was blocked in Soda Springs Canyon by heavy trucks clearing rockslides.

Rainfall: 0.44" today (Wed), 1.44" yesterday (Tues), 0.07" (Mon)

Traffic: traffic was light this morning compared with the weekend. I saw 6 heavy trucks going & coming from Vulcan Materials quarry, a few cars and pickups, a UPS truck, ranger truck, park maintenance trucks, heavy trucks clearing rock slides from the road.

Posted on January 17, 2019 04:46 AM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 20, 2019

268 Dead; no live ones seen; Total death toll: 2,040

January 19, 2019 (Saturday)
I found 268 fresh newt carcasses (i.e., belly was bright orange or yellow and/or there was bright red blood).
See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/1/19

I also found 140 partially decomposed carcasses. I'll have to compare these with previous observations to make sure no duplicates are added to the project. This might take several days or weeks. Just be aware that the count could jump up to 408 for this date, if all the decomposed ones are added to the project in the coming weeks.

Other Roadkill: I also saw a broad-footed mole dead on the road (DOR).

Coverage: @merav joined me for the roadkill count between Limekiln and Priest Rock Trailheads. I also surveyed St. Joseph's Hill OSP to Aldercroft Heights Rd. (6.6 miles total). 100% coverage today.

Rainfall: 1.18" since I last did a roadkill count. Total rainfall for Jan: 4.34"

Traffic: There was a steady flow of traffic to and from the Los Gatos Rowing Club (not a safe time to be taking roadkill pictures). Traffic was not so bad once I got past the rowing club entrance. Lots of bikes and joggers on the road today as well.

Question: what does a newt look like after it's been run over by 100 vehicles?

Posted on January 20, 2019 10:51 AM by truthseqr truthseqr | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 24, 2019

No fresh carcasses found

January 23, 2019 (Wednesday)
At last the newts have a reprieve from vehicle-induced death! I didn’t see any fresh carcasses on Alma Bridge Rd. this morning. I photographed 70 decomposing carcasses that were >3 days old (i.e., all orange, yellow, and red color was gone). I’ll have to compare these with previous observations to make sure they haven’t been added to the project yet. Large sections of the road were completely clear of carcasses, as if the road had been swept clean (perhaps by the last heavy rain or heavy winds). There were many carcasses that were in the final stages of decomposition and not worth photographing.
See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/1/23

I might not go again this week since we’re not expecting more rain until next week. I’ll go back then.

Coverage: (~40%) St. Joseph’s Hill OSP to Memorial; SCC Water Co. entrance to Soda Springs Rd.

Rainfall: No rain in past two days; 0.12" since I last did a roadkill count. Total rainfall for Jan: 4.67"

Traffic: Unusually busy for a weekday. Many trucks coming and going from the Vulcan Materials quarry. Many people were out walking, jogging, or biking (and drove their cars to get there). Many pickup trucks (rangers, maintenance, private). Some heavy trucks moving fallen rocks off the road.

Posted on January 24, 2019 04:23 AM by truthseqr truthseqr | 1 comments | Leave a comment

January 29, 2019

118 Dead; no live ones seen

January 28, 2019 (Monday)
I found 118 fresh newt carcasses on Alma Bridge Rd. within 2 hours this morning. I didn’t find any last Wednesday, so I thought there wouldn’t be any dead today (we haven’t had any rain all week), but I was wrong.
See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/1/28

I also photographed 14 decomposed carcasses, but didn't add them to the project. It wasn't clear in the field if these were new or old roadkill.

Coverage: (~40%) St. Joseph’s Hill OSP to a little past Douglas B. Miller Memorial; SCC Water Co. entrance to a little past Soda Springs Rd.

Rainfall: No rain in the past 5 days since I did the last roadkill count.

Traffic: Regular traffic was light this morning – only a few cars and pickups. However, there were the usual 6-10 heavy gravel trucks travelling to and from the Vulcan Materials quarry. I didn’t see any bikers or hikers and only one jogger.

Posted on January 29, 2019 02:01 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment