Six on Saturday today is another garden project. This one adds wildlife habitat to your garden and provides the opportunity to see animals that are usually hidden from view.
1. Cover boards
A cover board is exactly what it sounds like: a wooden board or piece of sheet metal that is placed on the ground to provide habitat for small animals. They’re often used by herpetologists to attract reptiles and amphibians, but they also attract insects, spiders, and small mammals.
This past spring, the kids and I placed three cover boards–two wooden boards and one piece of corrugated metal siding–in likely spots around our property. Over the summer and autumn, we have checked the boards once every two weeks, which we think is a decent compromise between checking so often that animals are frightened away, and checking so infrequently that we miss things.
If you live in a place with venomous snakes, it’s a good idea to use a rake or snake hook to lift cover boards. Pull the board towards you, so that you will have the upright board between you and any disturbed snakes. If you find a small animal, take a few pictures and then carefully lower the cover board again. Gently move the little creature to one side first, and let it crawl back underneath after you have lowered the board. You don’t want to find its squashed corpse the next time you lift the board Wait a reasonable amount of time and then repeat. That’s all there is to it
The rest of my photos today are animals that we found under the boards.
2. Eastern narrowmouth toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)
The first time we looked under the boards, we found a pair of eastern narrowmouth toads. These guys spend most of their lives hidden, and I have only seen a handful in the past twenty years. I previously posted about this species here.
3. Wolf spider (Genus? species?)
4. Eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus)
I have written about eastern worm snakes here.
5. Another worm snake ready to shed its skin
6. Marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum)
See this old post for more about marbled salamanders.
As always, the Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday. Head over there to see his Six for this week and find links to the blogs of other participants.