Monday, May 17, 2010

Small Wonders

With the return of the return of the spring on Friday, and in keeping with the beginning of Bike Week around these parts, we made a run down to Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke for a quick bike ride before the sunset.

We hadn't biked here in over a year, and pleased to see it was just as beautiful as we had left it.

Especially during the golden hour right before twilight.

I had forgotten this, but early May is high gossling time around this reservoir.

We encountered probably over two dozen large geese families on our bike run, spread out along the trails and coasting about in the water.

While some of them had pretty sizable broods, keeping their parents' on their webbed toes...

...others not so much. For whatever reason nature, luck, fate, what have you; delt some of the couples only one or two young'un to care for.

Such is life and who knows, maybe less hungry beaks just makes matters easier for everyone.

All I know is... we usually have our hands full back at the ranch.

The cooling, late afternoon temps were refreshingly perfect, and we made such good time that we decided to go around the 3.5 mile loop twice.

The sun was getting really low, the light was starting to fade and we were cruising along the shady back stretch of the track at about 10 miles an hour when Hawk-Eye-Freakin'-Sacajawea-Kelly done it again: spotting this tiny critter sitting right in the middle of the darkening path, and came to an abrupt stop.

She immediately identified it as a newt of some sort.

Not a salamander, as I challenged her on it, but a newt. Whatever it was, I don't know how she does it. This guy was smaller than a piece of gum.

But reading up on it later, I found that it was indeed a Red Spotted Newt. Or more precisely an Eft. Probably pretty young considering it's small stature, even as newts go. We checked it out for a few minutes and with some straggling joggers and another group of bikers still tromping by on the path, we decided we'd better help fate and nature along. Kelly gingerly picked it up...

...gave the enchanted bloggerette a quick eyeful...

...before setting it down again in the grass, path-side.

Good luck little guy.

...and watch out for predators, it's a hungry world out there.

We finished out the loop discussing differences between salamanders and newts and the occasional ability of the tiny creatures to make news by up-ending entire subdivisions and box store developments. Eventually we coasted down the final stretch to the car settled into a cooled breezy satisfied silence. Listening to the sound of bicycle tires running over gravel, and the occasional honk of geese...

The sun had by now just about set.

Time to get our own gossling home.


Elizabeth said...

Great photos this week! I would have called that a salamander, too. :)

Mattenylou said...

Great photos! especially of all the younguns.. nice.

Theresa said...

LOVED these shots! Great time of day to go out with the camera.

Mary E.Carey said...

What a great salamander shot!

Tony said...

I should probably mention that I also read that the red spotted newt's skin is slightly poisonous; care should be taken handling them and for PETE'S sake, don't ingest them..!