by Kathryn Deery
Spring on Mt. Tamalpais brings a bright palette of wildflowers, stirring animals, gushing waterfalls and a flood of visitors! Mt. Tamalpais is our backyard, but whose home is it? Two fascinating species that live here are the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rany boylii) and the Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata). Unfortunately, both species are facing challenges: The Foothill Yellow-legged Frog is a species of “special concern” and the Western Pond Turtle is a federally listed “vulnerable species.”
Little Carson Falls is one of Mt. Tam’s most hoppin’ spots for both Foothill Yellow-legged Frog and visitors. The frogs breed and lay their eggs in and around the pools of the waterfalls—which is also where hikers might tread or where dogs lap up cool water. The egg masses provide a nutritious cradle for the soon-to-be tadpoles but are no match against hiking boots and paws. Human encroachment on frog breeding habitat is one more threat on top of the threat of predators, like rough-skinned newts and non-native bullfrogs.
Just as the longer, warmer days draw visitors outside, the Western Pond Turtle also comes out to bask on the logs of Lake Lagunitas. Exotic species such as the red-eared slider, a common pet turtle, inhabit the same niche as the vulnerable Western Pond Turtle. The sliders take away food and habitat from California’s only native fresh water turtle. In late spring, the female Western Pond Turtles find a nesting site away from the water and lay eggs in a shallow hole that they cover with dirt. Visitors should keep a sharp eye for turtles and not interrupt their migration.
MMWD is looking for volunteers to help protect these creatures by interacting with the public, monitoring habitat conditions and recording behavior. Join us for frog docent training this Saturday, February 27, and for turtle observer training on Saturday, March 13. Learn species biology, animal observation skills and techniques for interacting with the public. Last year, docents made contact with over 400 visitors. Let’s work together to protect these special species who live on the mountain we all know and love!
For more information please visit our website.
To register for the trainings please email email@example.com or call (415) 945-1128. Frog docents must be at least 18 years old. Turtle observers can be as young as 8 years old if accompanied by an adult.