As I continue my extensive exploration of local areas, I am always surprised to find new species. This time excitement came in a form I least expected, ensatinas. That is a name that I had heard of, but had very little knowledge about. Flipping a concrete slab, I was greeted by these two individuals.
My immediate thought was newts of some sort. It wasn’t till I posted pictures online that I was corrected. After being pointed in the right direction by the community, they were identified to be Yellow-Eyed Ensatinas. This can be seen most easily in the rounded tail and constriction at tail’s base.
My best shot of the yellow patch in the eye which gives this ensatina it’s name.
I also got a picture of their nasolabial groove. This groove is present in the plethodontid family of salamanders and enhances their ability of chemoreception.
The picture below was one of the few shots I had of them next to each other. It serves as my best chance at determining if they are a breeding pair. In my opinion it is inconclusive. Males tend to have longer, more slender tails and shorter snouts with an enlarged upper lip relative to females. Female bodies are typically shorter and fatter. It is possible that the one on the left is a female and the right is a male, but due to their body position in this picture and lack of further pictures for comparison, it is hard to be certain.
On the way back home after the excursion I heard some noise by a river bank. I was shocked to see a turkey vulture walking along. As peculiar a site as it is to see one on the ground walking, that wasn’t all it was doing. It was eating. What was left of a deer carcus sat its feet. Most bones were exposed but it was still picking some meat off the skin.
On my street there is a playground. I saw two grey dog-like shapes moving in the bushes. I knew instantly they were coyotes and pulled out my camera before pursuing. Seeing one run up the hill, I followed to establish a line of site and take a picture.
Assuming I was mistaken in originally seeing two, I was satisfied with the picture and left. After walking for a ways I turned around to see the other coyote still in the park (freaky to think that it was in the park while I was). The two nipped at each other and the one that had remained in the park booked it up the hill.
The original coyote sitting triumphantly in the playground. Not pictured is the cut sustained on its left leg from the encounter.