Journal archives for February 2021

February 17, 2021

February 16, 2021- south side

22 dead newts (2 of which were juveniles), 0 live newts.
February 16th, 2021 (Tuesday), 2:30-4:00pm
Weather: Partly clear, 54F.
Other roadkill: 1 large millipede
Rainfall: MTD 0.75in, YTD 9.72in (per
Traffic: 32 moving vehicles, 11 parked, 4 bicycles, 2 joggers
Midpen study: Pit traps were emptied before I arrived and there were no roadkill newts in their road sections.

Surprisingly few newts despite the little showers we've had, but as Anne points out below it's been pretty chilly overnight.

My newt observations for today:

Newt map:

Posted on February 17, 2021 06:31 by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 5 comments | Leave a comment

Yea Tiffany! Mercury News Opinion

Tiffany, your editorial on the Alma Bridge Rd newts was published today in the Mercury News, Way To Go!

Thanks for adding to the research and awareness of our slippery little companions on the ball of rock.


Posted on February 17, 2021 16:08 by joescience1 joescience1 | 1 comment | Leave a comment

February 04, 2021

February 3, 2021 - North side

February 3, 2021 (Wednesday), 9:00am - 11:45am
Coverage: Jones parking lot to second stop sign

273 dead newts, 6 of which may be juveniles, 2 live newts humping (I took a video, Merav might have photos for an observation)

Other roadkill: one millipede, one rodent

Weather: Chilly, low 50s, mostly sunny, got a little rain Monday/Tuesday

Traffic: 36 cars; 6 bikes; 8 quarry trucks; 4 pedestrians

Well that was depressing.

But it was nice to start off with Merav, who checked the experiment flags while I logged new newts. Doing that with two people is a good thing, so you can each concentrate on one aspect.

And it was some solace to see two newts humping in the little ephemeral pool near Limekiln trail. Who knows if there will be water in there long enough to raise young, but at least they got to mate before being squished by cars, which seems like a better survival choice, given how many others didn't make it in the rush after the last rain. It was also interesting to see how different the male looked, with very smooth skin (and significantly larger, the female looked on the younger side). At first I thought they might be different species, Merav said she didn't think so, and California Herps informed me that breeding males do get like that, so I learned something.

One hiker said hi, asked if I was with the newt survey, thanked us for doing it.

I'm trying a different camera app, which thankfully does a significantly better job with geotagging, but the tradeoff seems to be lower-quality photos (which I'm kinda surprised at, I've taken some good ones with OpenCamera in the past.) Hopefully they're ok for this purpose, if not let me know.

Posted on February 04, 2021 06:05 by newtpatrol newtpatrol | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 01, 2021

January 29, 2021 (Saturday) - South Side

Conducted survey of South Side 830am - 1240pm .
Weather was 46-54F, cloudy in the morning to sunny as time passed.
Rain MTD 5.82 in, Season Total 8.97 in, per

Documented 83 newts, 4 of which were juvenile. No live newts observed.

Documented 1 dead newt in HTH Array 6 before they checked the pitfall traps:
It was removed after they checked the array. Didn't see any live newts in the traps.

Documented human activity:
Cars: 50
Motorcycles: 4
Bikes: 61
Pedestrians: 43
Parked Cars: 6

Not sure if this is a normal South Side thing or because of the rains or what, but the newts seemed much more mangled than what I'm used to seeing on the North Side. I'm used to seeing pancake/tortilla newts, but the bodies from yesterday were more twisted and the carnage/blood/guts/body parts was more spread out for these ones.

Saw one of the people I spoke to last week about the newts drive past (he screamed "YAY NEWTS" as he drove by me).

One cyclist asked how the newt study was going. I told her I'd already seen 60 dead newts on the road, and she was shocked. She thanked us for the work we're doing to try to save them.

Here's a link to the day's records:

Posted on February 01, 2021 00:03 by tyap tyap | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 19, 2021

Pacific Newt Roadkill, Rainfall and Low Temps for 4 seasons (updated Mar 15, 2021)

The following charts show the number of newts killed on Alma Bridge Rd. at Lexington Reservoir and the cumulative number of inches of rainfall for the four seasons we've been collecting data. Notice the following:

(1) The YTD rainfall for this season (2020-2021, purple) is significantly lower than for the previous three migration seasons.

(2) The number of newts killed YTD this season is about 1000 less than last season (2019-2020). Is this due to less rainfall or because HTH hasn't shared all their data with us? Could it be a sign that the Lexington newt population is being extirpated?

(3) The number of juveniles killed this season has significantly increased over previous seasons. Click here for more information about juvenile newt roadkill.


Rainfall Amount

Does the amount of rainfall determine how many newts are found dead on the road the following day?
No - there's no correlation between the amount of rainfall and roadkill numbers, as shown in the following graphs from the 2020-2021 and 2018-2019 migration seasons:



Low Temperatures

How do cold temperatures affect the roadkill numbers? It appears that relatively few newts are killed on the road when overnight temperatures fall below 40 degrees F, as shown in the following graphs. In other words, very few newts come out when it's very cold. The weather service reports air temperatures, not ground temps, and if the ground is at or below 32F, frost can form. According to the National Weather Service, "if the thermometer is even just a few feet above ground, it may not give an accurate reading for frost. Because cool air sinks and the ground can quickly cool, the ground temperature on clear, still winter nights is invariably lower than the temperature only a few feet higher. Thus, frost can form even when a thermometer gives a reading in the upper 30's." Click here for more information.



Posted on February 19, 2021 00:07 by truthseqr truthseqr | 6 comments | Leave a comment

February 05, 2021

February 4, 2021 - South Side

February 4, 2021 (Thursday), 9:55 am - 1:15 am
Coverage: Aldercroft Road to stop sign

154 dead newts.
1 teeny (30 mm) live juvenile, right on the double yellow stripe. Video:

No other roadkill.
Nothing in the pit traps. Had a nice chat with HTH Emily.
Weather: Sunny, low/mid 50s, no rain for several days.
Traffic: 21 vehicles, no pedestrians.

Posted on February 05, 2021 02:20 by anudibranchmom anudibranchmom | 1 comment | Leave a comment

February 08, 2021

Feb 7, 2021 (Sunday) - North Side

Conducted survey of North side from 9:00 am - 12:30 pm. Weather was 48F, sunny.
Documented 100 dead newts, 1 of which was a juvenile. No live newts observed.

Checked the HTH survey pitfall traps and couldn't find anything, so they might have beat me to clear all the newts on their survey sites, hence did not find any.

Documented Human Activity:
Cars: 190
Motorcycles: 3
Bikes: 60
Pedestrians: 61
Parked Cars: 95

Notes: Heavy traffic along the Alma Bridge Road not only due to the rowing folks, but also due to people looking to burn those super bowl pizza calories or maybe warmer weather.

A couple of ladies came over when I was checking tire treads and asked me if I was working as a parking officer. I explained the entire project we are collecting data for, to which they said "That is fascinating. BTW can you tell us where is the trail that leads to the reservoir?" :|

Another thing I noticed is that when I looked under the parked cars near the Limekiln Trail, I spotted a few dead newts. Some were easy to photograph, some not so much without people suspecting something nefarious I might do to the car.

I found almost 15% of the today's observations as floaters i.e. dried newts that were not stuck to the road. Now they can be either be extremely dried up and peeled off by themselves, dropped off a traveling car tire or were a previous observation that was thrown on the side of the road but hitched a ride with the winds and came back on the road. Anyways, I just want to make sure we are not double dipping.

On the way back home, I did spot about 4 dead newts in the section from the Lexington reservoir parking lot to Los Gatos Creek trail, that might be an area we might not be recording newt fatalities or maybe it was a conscious decision to keep strict borders for the project. Just wanted to point it out.
Map of observations of what I am talking about

Link to my observations:

Posted on February 08, 2021 02:03 by karangattu karangattu | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 7, 2021- south side

34 dead newts (0 juveniles), 0 live newts.
February 7th, 2021 (Sunday) 3:50-5:15pm. I went late in hopes of most people being home watching the Superbowl, which seems to have worked.
Weather: Partly cloudy, high 60s. No rain for days prior.
Other roadkill: 1 large millipede. One little piece of the skunk left.
Rainfall: MTD 0.46in, YTD 9.43in (per
Traffic: 27 motor vehicles, 7 parked vehicles, 8 bicycles, 1 walker.
Midpen study: Pit traps were emptied before I arrived and there were no roadkill newts in their road sections.

Mostly dried-out wafers, but a decent number of semi-fresh ones that looked like they were killed in the past 24-48 hours (to my mild surprise since it's been quite dry and warm).

My newt observations for today:

Newt map:

Posted on February 08, 2021 21:24 by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 14, 2021

Feb 13, 2021 (Saturday) - South Side

Conducted survey of South side from 8:30 am - 1:40 pm. Weather was 49F, cloudy when I started the survey with a little rain as time progressed.

Documented 152 Newts, of which 12 were juveniles. I was able to rescue 2 live newts from the road in the north side while I was making my way to the south section on my bike.



Other documented roadkill: Juvenile Arboreal Salamander.

While making my way to the south side, I did spot 3 dead newts in HTH survey location 1, 1 dead newt in HTH survey location 2 and 3 newts in HTH survey location 3. (did not take a pic)
When I met the HTH team at Survey site 6 and asked them if they found a lot of newts, they said not a lot today. Yesterday was a bumper crop when they found at least 100 live newts in the buckets and a "few" dead newts on the road.

Documented Human Activity:
Cars: 53
Motorcycles: 1
Bikes: 50
Pedestrians: 9
Parked Cars: 7

This was my first time patrolling the south section and it is truly the gorgeous but shy cousin of the north side. When Merav mentioned this section is quieter in the traffic and the newt fatality department, I thought I will use that time to do some introspection; find out the meaning of life and all. But the numerous squished newts had other ideas, I am pretty sure, I'll have one of the days in the future where I get to deeply think about my purpose in life, alas that day was not today.

There were a few instances when people asked what I was up to:

  1. An elderly couple stopped their car and asked if I was recuing newts. Then the husband proceeded to point out that his wife asks him to stop the car many times so she can get out of the car and carry the newts to the other side. I thanked her for doing that. They had more questions for me, but the traffic backing up caused them to abruptly end the conversation.
  2. A few utility workers asked me if I was looking at a lizard and what it is called. One asked me how much money does this gig pay while the other said he saw one inside a sewer hole on the side of the road. I told it, they can swim in water so that newt should be fine.
  3. A few bikers while passing by asked me what my count was for today, to which I replied "52". They then asked how many we find every year, to which I replied "about 5000". Then one of them started doing some math in his head and explaining to the other biker how it is possible if you find 50 in a day.

Link to my observations -

Posted on February 14, 2021 06:12 by karangattu karangattu | 1 comment | Leave a comment

February 11, 2021

February 10, 2021- south side

71 dead newts (2 juveniles), 0 live newts.
February 10th, 2021 (Wednesday) 10:15-12:15pm.
Weather: Beautiful cloudless day, 60F but felt like 70.
Other roadkill: none
Rainfall: MTD 0.46in, YTD 9.43in (per
Traffic: 16 motor vehicles, 5 parked vehicles, 11 bicycles, 3 walkers.
Midpen study: Pit traps were emptied before I arrived and there were no roadkill newts in their road sections.

Way more newts than I was expecting, since I was just here Sunday evening and it hadn't rained since then (literally just some drops, not even enough to move the rainfall gauge).
Lots of butterflies! Tortoiseshells, azures, and maybe another species or two of orange one that weren't interested in letting me look at them.

My newt observations for today:

Newt map:

Posted on February 11, 2021 21:48 by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 1 comment | Leave a comment