My doctor's office happens to be very close to my old place on The Muddy River. I looked down into the river and was lucky enough to see these colorful birds!
From left to right they are a male wood duck, an American black duck, a female wood duck, and a male and a female mallard.
Last Sunday I led an Urban Nature Walk in the Riverway. As it turned out, 2 Livejournal friends (who I'd never met before) came along! We went to the Studios Without Walls outdoor art exhibit. I was frankly disappointed with the quality of the art this time around, but this piece was pretty good.
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We were back at our old place doing some cleaning, then went to the park and found that the Studios Without Walls is already up! It's earlier this year, and will be closing on May 22nd. Go see it now!
This piece is mostly copper mesh. I call it the "Choreboy" piece.
These little guys were about 20 feet up in a tree.
Red-backed salamander Plethodon cinereus
It's been almost ten years since I've photographed a red-backed salamander in the city. There are very few amphibians on my lists of urban species (two frog species and now two salamander species at this point). Amphibians have the challenge of a permeable skin, which exposes them to the various pollutants in the urban environment. They are particularly sensitive to acidic substrates, a condition which has been increasing in their eastern forest habitat for more than a century. In the case of the red-backed salamander, their skin is their only mode of respiration: they are lungless salamanders.
Despite this anatomical obstacle, red-backed salamanders are thought to be the most common amphibian species in the northeast North America. Unlike frogs and many other salamanders, they don't require bodies of water to breed; their offspring are born as miniature adults instead of as gilled larvae. They live in leaf litter, feeding on small invertebrates. Females guard their eggs until they hatch, and relatives recognize one another by scent and tolerate each other within a territory. These tiny animals (three inches long is a very large individual) are thought to live to about 10 years old, and possibly as old as thirty.
This individual was taking shelter in the fronds of a hen-of-the-woods mushroom, on a rainy afternoon in the Riverway.