January 19, 2009 (Mon) - Ranch lake - Sanborn Park - Newts and Ladybugs

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Every year around this time of year (end of Dec to start of Feb), California newts gather en masse and spawn egg pouches in the streams around and within Ranch Lake, a part of the Sanborn County Park system, just outside of Saratoga downtown, California. The weather had been abnormally warm and dry the past week and a half and there wasn't much water flow at all into the small lake. So instead of laying the eggs pouches in the streams leading into the lake, it seems most of the eggs are being laid right inside the lake itself. We could see hundreds of newts about 15-30 ft from the shoreline, some right up against the shore. Beyond the mating newts were the egg pouches, which were gelatin-like in texture, about the size of a large marble (1" diameter). Each pouch had perhaps 20 to 30 egg larvae. When these eggs hatch, they'll wiggle around within the pouch till they've used up the pouch's nutrients. It's a fascinating process!

Besides the newts, we also saw clusters of ladybugs (some hundreds to thousands strong). We also saw a few small deers and a tiny garter snake. Last year's newts and ladybugs were a lot more plentiful, possibly because of the wetter conditions: 1/6/2008, 1/26/2008.





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