Journal archives for March 2019

March 03, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 146 found dead today; 1 alive & injured

March2, 2019 (Saturday) 8:00 am – 11:430 am

I found 146 dead newts on Alma Bridge Rd. this morning between the Vulcan Materials quarry and Aldercroft Heights Rd. I also found one injured newt next to the road. I picked it up and put it in the grass. On my return trip, it was still in the same place – hadn’t moved. I’m not sure it will survive. I covered it loosely with bigleaf maple leaves.
See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/3/2

Other roadkill: Two frogs, a mouse, and possibly a Hermit Thrush

Coverage: (~85%) Vulcan Materials quarry to Aldercroft Heights Rd.

Rainfall: (MTD: 1.48 in; YTD: 20.64 in) It was pouring rain all morning. We had 1.39 inches of rain today.

Traffic: Lots of cars going and coming from the Los Gatos Rowing Club. At 9am I counted ~30 people out on the reservoir. If each of those kids are dropped off and picked up by their parents, then each car traverses Alma Bridge Rd. 4 times (in-out-in-out). If this happens hourly, then it’s the equivalent of 120 cars driving on Alma Bridge Rd. per hour. If there are hourly classes, then this could happen multiple times. For example, if there are 4 classes, the traffic is the equivalent of 480 each Saturday morning. No wonder the roadkill is so high along this 1-mile stretch of Alma Bridge Rd. Not to mention that most of the cars are speeding. I’d guess the average speed is about 40 mph on this 25 mph road (15 mph around curves like Limekiln Canyon). Very little traffic south of the rowing club – less than 10 cars.

Posted on March 03, 2019 15:49 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 07, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 70 found dead today; 1 alive & injured

March 6, 2019 (Wednesday) 9:45 am – 11:45 am

I found 70 dead newts on Alma Bridge Rd. this morning between Limekiln Trailhead and gate SA-19. I also found one injured newt on the road. Its injuries were very severe. I don’t think it will survive.

The injured newt I found on Saturday is now dead. It was about 3 inches away from the place I put it in the grass.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/3/6

Other roadkill: A frog, toad, Jerusalem cricket, and spotted salamander

Coverage: (~66%) Limekiln Trailhead to gate SA-19.

Rainfall: (MTD: 2.46 in; YTD: 21.62 in) It was raining last night and all morning.

Traffic: There were about 20 cars and trucks on the road this morning, including a U-Haul van.

Posted on March 07, 2019 04:38 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

45 dead newts, no live newts

March 6, Wednesday, 9:200-10:20 am, from Limekiln trailhead to Saint Jones trailhead.
Weather: light rain.
Saw about 20 cars, about half are trucks.
In addition to the newts, I saw 2 western toads, a millipede, and some earthworms, reported on https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/other-roadkill-lexington-reservoir-area
Saw two live newts in the little pool by the Limekiln trailhead

Posted on March 07, 2019 18:17 by merav merav | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 09, 2019

Santa Clara County refuses to close road to save newts

The death toll for Pacific Newts on Alma Bridge Road is fast approaching 4,000 for this migration season (plus a few days from last season).

On February 11, 2019 the Audubon Society and Sierra Club environmental advocates wrote a strongly worded letter to the SCC Board of Supervisors requesting immediate action, such as partial road closure, to address the massive roadkill problem on Alma Bridge Road. Today we received a response from the county. They refused to close the road, they agreed to post "Newt Crossing" signs, and then threw the responsibility for coming up with a permanent solution back at Audubon and Sierra Club, even though the county owns the road and it's their responsibility.

It feels like I'm witnessing the annihilation of this population of newts. There may come a time when there are no more newts at Lexington Reservoir.

Posted on March 09, 2019 06:09 by truthseqr truthseqr | 23 comments | Leave a comment

March 10, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 110 found dead today; 1 alive & mortally injured

March 9, 2019 (Saturday) 6:45 am – 10:45 am

I found 110 dead newts on Alma Bridge Rd. this morning between St. Joseph’s Hill OSP and Aldercroft Heights Rd. (4.1 miles). Curiously, my favorite wooden “Newt Crossing – Look Down” sign reappeared this morning (it was missing last weekend – I thought it was stolen along with 4 other signs).

I also found one injured newt on the road. Its injuries were very severe. I don’t think it will survive.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/3/9

Other roadkill: An Arboreal Salamander and Sierran Tree Frog.

Coverage: (~100%) St. Joseph’s Hill OSP and Aldercroft Heights Rd. (4.1 miles)

Rainfall: (MTD: 3.00 in; YTD: 22.16 in) It was drizzling off and on in the early morning hours, then it started raining heavily around 10am.

Traffic: I counted more than 100 cars, SUVs, and trucks on the road this morning. There was a continuous stream of speeding cars going to and coming from the Los Gatos Rowing Club (parents dropping off their kids).

Posted on March 10, 2019 00:49 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Looking for a researcher to analyze newt roadkill data

I’ve seen trends in the newt roadkill data that I think would make an interesting topic for study. I’m wondering if a professional herpetologist or college student would be interested in analyzing this roadkill data to further our understanding of these two species (Taricha torosa and Taricha granulosa) and publish a paper about it.

Here's what I’ve noticed and find interesting:

1. I’ve read that newts mostly migrate on rainy or foggy nights. However, the data show there is significant roadkill on all days during migration season – including after extended periods with no rain (8-10 days). When I plot number of roadkill against amount of rainfall, I find no correlation at all. In fact, some of the highest roadkill numbers came on days when there was no rain.

2. Temperature, more so than precipitation, seems to determine the number of newts on the road. I've noticed a significant drop in fresh roadkill when the temperature dips into the low 40's F and below (and when there was snow on Mt. Umunhum). Unlike rainfall amount, there is a definite correlation between low temperature and roadkill numbers. Someone with a biostatistics background would be able to determine just how strong the correlation is.

3. I’ve also seen a considerable number of live newts during the daytime (~70 this season during my 2-4 hr surveys). A friend in Fresno has recorded in her journal 384 live newts she's seen in the daytime this season. This could be significant for those planning roadkill mitigations. Closing roads only on rainy nights might leave hundreds of newts susceptible to roadkill during the daytime.

4. I’ve heard that newts of the species T. granulosa do not tend to migrate. The data show otherwise. They’re being killed in large numbers right alongside T. torosa.

5. Predation: I've read that garter snakes are the only newt predators. However, I've seen crows eating newt roadkill and on several occasions and I've seen dead beetles on top of dead newts.

"One of the most toxic species of newts, the Taricha newt, is known to only be able to be eaten by the garter snake as it is too poisonous for any other predators."
https://www.joyofanimals.com/what-predators-eat-newts/
Yet this article goes on to say:
"The mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) and red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) have caused the greatest reduction in newt populations."

"Toxin-resistant garter snakes are the only known animals today that can eat a rough-skinned newt and survive."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rough-skinned_newt

6. Early on, when taking pictures of the roadkill, I was faced with the problem of how to identify fresh roadkill versus carcasses I had already photographed during a previous survey. So I started a study of the decomposition of newts, collecting data from week to week. There is some interesting stuff in there too. Also, this data may help others who are on the same quest to save the newts from extermination. It will help them collect accurate roadkill counts.

7. I’ve seen many instances of what look like egg masses surrounding the carcasses. The interesting thing is that these masses continue to grow/expand even after the newt is dead.

8. Diet: I’ve read that newts are primarily carnivorous, but I think they might eat Pacific Madrone berries too, which would make them omnivorous. See the following examples:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19751575
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19721499
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19721448

Posted on March 10, 2019 12:17 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 15, 2019

165 dead newts, no live ones

Found 165 dead newts, no live newts. Only a few were fresh, the rest pretty dry
March 14, Thursday, 9:00-10:20 am, from the quarry to some gate
Weather: nice, four days after the last rain. frost in the morning in San Jose. Highest temp - 65.5.
Saw 12 cars, 8 trucks, 5 runners, and 2 bikes.
In addition to the newts, I saw 1 dead Western Fence Lizard and 1 dead California Tortoiseshell butterfly, reported on https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/other-roadkill-lexington-reservoir-area
Didn't see any live newts in the little pool by the Limekiln trailhead

Posted on March 15, 2019 05:46 by merav merav | 2 comments | Leave a comment

March 18, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 223 found dead today; 2 alive; 1 mortally injured

March 17, 2019 (Sunday) 7:15 am – 11:00 am

I found 223 dead newts on Alma Bridge Rd. this morning between St. Joseph’s Hill OSP and Aldercroft Heights Rd. (4.1 miles). I also found two live newts. One had severe injuries. I don’t think it will survive. This really tears me apart to see an injured newt struggling to get to safety. The other one seemed to be in good health. I helped it across the road to safety. It was heading back to the highlands. It looked like most of the roadkilled newts were heading back to the highlands as well. I only saw 2 that were heading toward the water.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/3/17

There were a lot of fresh newt bodies on the road this morning. Last night was the first time in 7 days that the overnight low was above 45 degrees. This adds more data to my theory that overnight low temperatures have more effect than amount of rainfall on the number of newts found dead on the road. In some cases the roadkill was so fresh the bright red blood was shimmering in the sunlight (i.e., it hadn’t coagulated yet).

There are more juveniles in Soda Springs Canyon than anywhere else. I wonder why? There were a lot of Taricha granulosa dead on the road. More than I’ve seen on other days. I measured the length of some of the carcasses to show the difference between mature and juvenile newts.

I uploaded ~200 observations of decomposed roadkill from January. These had to be compared with all previous observations to ensure no duplicates were added to the project. This has been a very time-consuming and tedious process that I do in my spare time.

Other roadkill: Western Toad, Western Fence Lizard, 2 birds

Coverage: (~100%) St. Joseph’s Hill OSP and Aldercroft Heights Rd. (4.1 miles)

Rainfall: (MTD: 3.41 in; YTD: 22.57 in) It was dry and sunny this morning. We haven’t had rain in 7 days. We’re expecting more rain this coming week.

Traffic: It seemed as if the cars were driving slower than usual this morning. I wonder if the message is finally getting through to people or if this is a phenomenon of Sunday morning drivers. During the 4 hours I was there today, I counted all cars/trucks, bikes, and runners (Cars/Trucks: 117, Bikes: 16, Runners: 5). There were also 44 cars/trucks plus a horse carrier in roadside parking. Of the 117 cars & trucks, 94 were on the section of road before the Los Gatos Rowing Club. Throughput there was ~94 vehicles per hour. Throughput south of the rowing club was 7.7 vehicles per hour.

Posted on March 18, 2019 01:51 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 21, 2019

Pacific Newt Roadkill: 230 found dead today; 2 alive

March 20, 2019 (Wednesday) 9:45 am – 11:45 am

I found 230 dead newts on Alma Bridge Rd. this morning in 2 hours. Since I was only able to cover 40% of the study area, the actual death toll for today was probably closer to 400. I also saw two live newts on the road heading toward the water. I helped one across the road. There was no place to stop to help the other one.

I saw a road crew putting up the County’s “Newt Crossing” signs. I don’t know who decided on the placement of these signs, but they’re not even near the hot spots. In my opinion, they won’t help at all (they should’ve save their money for a more effective solution). I overheard the road crew talking about the newts – one man said, “What are you supposed to do? Stop to help a newt across the road and cause an accident?” Another man was walking the road looking at the roadkill and shaking his head. People care, but they don’t know what to do.

See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/truthseqr/2019/3/20

Coverage: (~41%) St. Joseph’s Hill OSP to the stop sign. (1.7 miles)

Rainfall: (MTD: 3.88 in; YTD: 23.04 in) It rained off and on this morning.

Traffic: There were a handful of cars and pickups. Some were driving the speed limit (25 mph), others were speeding. I saw a couple of big trucks entering the Vulcan quarry. There were road maintenance crews clearing rock and mudslides and putting up signs.

Posted on March 21, 2019 12:28 by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 22, 2019

160 dead newts, 1 live newt

March 21, Thursday, 9:30-11:00 am
Found 160 dead newts on the Soda Spring area, and one live newt just before Limekiln. Most of the newts were rather fresh. A few of the newts were quite small (took a second photo with my hand in it for scale).
Weather: nice, but was raining the night before - 0.44 inches, highest temp 65.8.
Saw 12 cars, and 5 bikes.
In addition to the newts, I saw 1 dead millipede, 1 Western Fence Lizard, and 2 dead Western Toads reported on https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/other-roadkill-lexington-reservoir-area

Posted on March 22, 2019 16:51 by merav merav | 0 comments | Leave a comment