Wildlife Wednesday: Clear Creek

On Memorial Day we decided to take the kids and join our friends for a day of fun at Clear Creek State Park. Of course the kids and I couldn’t pass up a chance to discover some cool critters, so we brought our nets and buckets along. I have to say, this was one of my favorite outings yet!

After lunch, the kids and I took our friend Tom for a walk along the creek. There had been heavy rains so the water level was pretty high and my expectations for finding many animals was rather low. We walked around a nice little “tide pool” that the rains had produced and noticed a few frogs jump in. As I was attempting to track one down, I noticed a decent size crayfish at the bottom of the pool. With a quick swish of the net we got our man. The kids were understandably a bit timid around this guy’s hefty pincers.

It was a beautiful day for exploring and all four kids got into the action! They chased little bugs in the grass and splashed their hands in the shallow water of the creek, trying to grab water striders and diving beetles. They even chased each other around, trying to capture their siblings in their nets. I love watching them play together!

When we returned to the tide pool, Evan saw a frog jump in and pointed to the spot it burrowed into the mud. I carefully dug my net around the area he indicated and hauled in a pile of mud. Deep within the murky slop was a gorgeous Green Frog.

In between catching things, Ava was a big help; as we walked she carried all of the nets for us. She was so proud of her job!

At one point I went back down the bank to grab another bucket, so as not to mix the crayfish with the frog, and as I walked through some tall grass a cute little garter snake slithered by. I can’t pass up a good garter snake sighting and the kids absolutely love them! I love my little explorers so much!

After awhile we walked across the street to a small ditch running parallel to the creek. It was full from the rain, but other than a few out of reach frogs, there was not much happening. We continued to follow the ditch until we walked through a patch of trees and the ditch opened up to what I consider, the most perfect little pond.

It was so serene and calm, but as we approached, we found that there was much more going on just below the surface!

There were thousands upon thousands of tadpoles wriggling all about! The water was alive and so crystal clear, you could see everything going on in this amphibian’s paradise! There were still jelly egg clumps where the tadpoles had hatched. I loved watching tadpoles turn into frogs as a kid, so I knew we had to bring some home with us. As we scooped up the tiny little pollywogs, something moving in the weeds caught my eye. There, crawling through the vegetation was the prettiest little Eastern Newt!

Once we had our tadpoles and Newt in hand, we called it a day and went back to spend some time with mommy before leaving. When we got them home and into a new bigger container, I noticed a few small minnow like animals with gills wriggling in the water. Turns out that these are Newt larvae; newly hatched newts! So cool!

We had a blast checking out the wildlife that Clear Creek State park had to offer and will surely be back again soon! If you are ever in the area, be sure to check it out! Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!

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