Yesterday evening, a little bit of rain, not too much wind, temps between 5 and 10°C. Although it became colder during the night (frost covered the ground this morning), I was still able to spot 25(!) of these beasties.
A slow start, expecting to find nothing, but then 5 at once. Gave me fresh energy to keep searching. Advantage of this late season stuff = I don’t have to wait until dark, because it gets dark so early
Here’s one of the first ones, with my highly scientific standard calibration tool (exactly 60mm), for post hoc digital measurements.
Mostly males …
… but also a couple of big fat mommas…
… and quite some juveniles (more than at other times? Should check data).
A family scene - this juvenile was actually half-hidden beneath the adult male’s body when I spotted them. The adult male crawled over my lens cap, after I put it next to them.
The last two animals were kind of exciting, because it was an amplexus. The first time I ever witnessed this. Hidden under the roots of a half-fallen tree, so I could not get too close (=> crappy shots).
Decided to leave them alone, and crawled out of the hole under the tree roots. Took a minute to check my pictures, looking back at the couple briefly, to see that they were no longer together (top dog was running off). My fault!!?? Decided to grab them, to get to know who was mating (in vain).
Now comes the trouble – after checking the cloacal swelling, I was sure these were in fact 2 males.
(1) the lower animal looks so big/large on the picture (see below), that I doubt it could be anything else but female;
(2) would a male fold its front legs like the lower animal in the amplexus does (possibly forced by upper animal?)?
Unfortunately, I did not photograph the cloaca, but I begin to wonder if I am really that bad at sexing Salamandra
In any case, I found it interesting to observe (homo?)sexual activity at this late date.
"Funny/Troubling" anecdote - my girlfriend received a phone call from the police, who had checked my licence plate. A concerned local phoned them, because the woods I visit many times each year is apparently a known spot for suicide... What the %£$# ?