Friday, February 27, 2009

Oh, my!

The neighbor’s creek roars from across the road. A night of heavy rain has brought its churning, murky waters swirling onto the pasture at the road’s edge.

Late last night I walked, warm air clouded and still, to the pools, carefully panning my light in wide arcs ahead of each slow step of my boot—hoping to find just one, woken from underground to journey home, to these pools.
Jefferson Salamanders.
Again, none.
Though, with each day’s approach to March, I know it is more likely I have missed them, made perfectly to match the blackest of these rainy spring nights.

This morning I returned to the dark water of little pond pool, and sat at the edge, last fall’s leaves from the small ring of young Red Maples, matted into the tangle of grasses not yet covered by the cool rising water. And stared out across the surface, like glass, reflecting white of another heavily clouded sky. Knowing there is much hidden here I will never see.


A slight ripple, and a visitor approaches, foraging in the debris beyond the toe of my spotted boot. A terrestrial crayfish, brought up out of his burrow across the yard, to this pool to feed. The scarlet tips of his claws not often seen, buried and muddied below the chimneys built in the middle of the lawn each summer, as he digs further and further into deep tunnels following retreating water.
Here, this morning, he seems to not notice I am following him--almost unable to look away as he works his way, inch by inch, around this basin, hoping to find what we both are looking for.


Enjoy this collection of photos.
All enlarge to show the magnificent colors dotting his exoskeleton,
from pastel blues and greens to vibrant tones of red and orange.










All crayfish are aquatic crustaceans, living in varied types of water and breathing with gills. Terrestrial crayfish, also known as burrowing crayfish or meadow crayfish, live in intricately excavated tunnels, seeking to reside below the water level within the ground, instead of within a stream or lake. By digging out small balls of clay and stacking them around the opening of a burrow, he digs lower and lower, seeking the water he needs to survive. The resulting 6-inch chimneys stacked above ground may be visible in the middle of an open field of grass.
In times of high water, as these areas flood, the crayfish emerge and walk or swim in puddles, retreating to the burrow, as the waters also recede.


Crayfish chimney in field


Cambarus diogenes (?)



More Camera Critters here.

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40 comments:

Teena in Toronto said...

I thought they were only in the ocean.

I played too :)

Skittles said...

The orange coloring is beautiful!

Sandy Kessler said...

yipes wasn't ready for that

Angela said...

Great post - I really enjoyed taking that walk with you this morning!

Carla said...

WOW! You just can't out beauty nature! Thanks to you, and him, for sharing:)

T said...

Wow, great pictures!

Robin said...

How cool! Thank you!

Lynne said...

"Put me DOWN!!!"

NCmountainwoman said...

I was looking at the buttons or coins in the last pond picture...then I realized they were actually the spots on your boots! Love the crawdad. What a perfect little guy.

Annette said...

I thought the crayfish in our area were dark gray or black. I'm so surprised how colorful this little guy is! He's so beautiful. Your patience was rewarded.

giggles said...

Nina, this post is fabulous!!!!

Thanks for showing me that if you look deeply and have patience, nature will reward me richly with her gifts... and in the meantime, you do the same with your posts!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Oh, I enjoyed this post!

jenn said...

Very cool looking critter. We have brown ones in our creek.

scienceguy288 said...

That is a big guy! You don't see them that big so often.

Kathy said...

For some silly reason I thought he would be really big (like the size of a lobster). Thats neat you were able to get such great shots of him.

Deborah Godin said...

Beautiful colors on the crayfish, and different from the ones we used to find in spring pools in the park near where I grew up in Detroit. Those pools were very short-lived, and, looking back on it now, I wonder what happened to the crayfish once the pools dried up. They must have been like those frogs that bury themselves in the African desert and only come out and complete their whole life cycle in a few days or weeks, and if the rains don't come, they stay hibernating, and can wait for years. Looking forward to your Salamander Watch!

Carolina said...

Your post reads like a poem. And the photos are beautiful!

Vickie said...

That is one enormous crayfish. I used to find them in a creek on our TN farm when I was a child, but never that big. The colors are beautiful.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Beautiful post, Nina. Those little crayfish have different names in different areas of the country. They are crawdads in TN and VA (where I grew up) and they are crawfish in New Orleans. Whatever--they are gorgeous.
Hugs,
Betsy

Susan Gets Native said...

They're prettier than most people give them credit for, aren't they?
Your boots freaked me out, though!

You may or may not love this, but we are thinking of giving our birds (the large owls and maybe the red-tailed hawks) LIVE crayfish occasionally, instead of the boring dead rats all the time.
If we need more, want to go "crawdad" huntin'?
Well, maybe not.
: )

Connie said...

I love the pictures. He looks like a lobster. He is big.

Tink *~*~* said...

That was awesome, thank you SO much! The crawdads that live in and around the retention pond out back of my SW Florida home are always dark brown/black. They are a little bigger than yours, I think. Yours is MUCH prettier. Thanks for sharing.

The spotted salamander is tracked on Long Island in a similar way that you describe. I think they use it as an indicator species there.

Tink *~*~*
Now Playing at My Mobile Adventures *~*~* :
The unfortunately named peacock at Disney and Busch Gardens

jozien said...

Pretty neat stuff!
Thanks

Denise said...

A great series of photos and I enjoyed learning about the crayfish. Thank you!

Dreamybee said...

Beautiful! (Even if he wasn't what you were hoping to find!)

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Susan--funny you should mention feeding them to birds because as I was watching him, my first thought was, "why hasn't a heron grabbed you from this pool?!" But, I think they're primarily nocturnal, which would put them in an owl's diet!

Betsy--they're called crawdads, here, too, though you'd be pressed to find that term in a field guide.

Tink--I had no idea how many species of crawdads there were until I began trying to figure out which one this might be! Claw sizes, coloration, overall size all are different. And I think this one, with the light blue and red trimmed crevices has to be just about the prettiest.
Spotted salamanders are indicator species for vernal pools because certain combinations have to be present in bodies of water in order for them to be chosen by salamanders for breeding.

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Hello,
Thanks for stopping at Auntie's blog. I flew over here to check you out.
What great photos of Mr. Crayfish, especially next to your polka-dot wellies.
I had a pet crayfish last year. He ate all my fish. Wah.
I had to give him away to a friend with a bigger tank.
I see you and I love nature.
I can't get enough fresh air & sunshine.
Time to log off and get out!

Dianne said...

this reads like a wonderful fantasy story - magnificent creatures all gathered together in the new pool

floreta said...

i like that we can see your shadow but the close-up pictures are my favorites.

Reader Wil said...

Excellent post, Nina! Very strange but beautiful photos. It must be your shade on the snowy or icy ground where the crayfish was.

Rose said...

These are wonderful photos...and brings back happy memories of when I was a kid and we would catch crawdads. Then, zoom forward to our children and they caught crawdads...only we always got them one of the hard plastic kiddie wading pools and kept water and rocks in it and they brought home crawdads, tadpoles, etc.

Wandering Alice said...

Thanks for your post, these are beautiful pictures of a lucky find!I'm curious to find out if we have terrestrial crawfish here in New England. The only ones I've ever seen are the tiny freshwater ones, mostly dark browns and greens. I'll head over to the fish and game website and check it out..

Misty Dawn said...

Absolutely fantastic photos! We have crayfish here, but they are not nearly that big, and they are not colored that beautifully either.

Kallen305 said...

Such wonderful photos!! You really brought out the color in it. I never thought they would be out this early as it is still really cold out. Very cool!

Mary said...

It's claws look studded with tiny gemstones!

Great post, Nina.

Jenn Jilks said...

Wonderful shots of wildlife! Thank you for the nature tour.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

That's a muscular looking crayfish. I'm impressed. And great photography. Goes to show the old parable about being happy with what you find, even if it's not what you set out for.

Arj said...

Nina, you be hereby tagged with this blog meme for nature book readers from:
http://scienceontap.blogspot.com

A nature book lovers meme :

Increasingly our daily lives are bound by the man-made technological world, yet most believe it important to maintain a connection to the natural world. Cite a half-dozen-or-so books you would recommend every young person read by the end of their school years to help them maintain a sense of connection to, and value in, the natural world.

After posting your list, forward the meme to a half-dozen-or-so bloggers of your choosing.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Fabulous photos. I haven't seen a crawdad in this state. The ones I usually see are the tan bleached out looking models. This one is a good size too.

Kathiesbirds said...

Nina, I never knew crayfish could be so pretty! Some of these photos would make a lovely painting! I also never knew that crayfish lived in burrows with chimneys! The wonders of nature never cease to amaze me and you do such a good job of showing these wonders to us with poetic words and photos.