If you visit the forest trails around Woodstock, NY at the end of the summer you’ll have a great opportunity to encounter the charming and colorful little orange salamanders called The Eastern Red-Spotted Newt. As you can see from the photos they glow like little gems fitting in perfectly with the emerging shades of autumn. It was just after sunset on Sept. 11 when I was debating whether or not to take a walk around Cooper Lake.The sun had already set and I didn’t know if the light would last long enough to make the trip worthwhile. Having experienced in the past that the best things often happen when you least expect them I jumped in the car and drove out there. The peace and beauty that envelopes one at Cooper Lake is beyond words – it’s just something you need to feel and experience. That alone was worth the trip, but what I did not know then was that this is exactly the time when you can find these colorful little newts – at dusk- in the late summer to autumn. The little guy in the photo was just sitting in the road and at a fast walking pace in the near dark environment my foot was just about to come down on him. His bright orange color is what caught my eye and saved him. I carefully carried the tiny fellow off the road away from the cars and hikers.
After admiring and photographing him I returned home and did some research finding out some interesting facts about this curious little creature. I had only see the Red Spotted Newts a couple times before, but it turns out that these salamanders are wide spread in New York State and Eastern North America.
They are 1-3 inches long, commonly found among the leaf litter in moist forest floors, and can live for 12 – 15 years! They provide natural mosquito control by eating the larva. The little orange guys shown here are juveniles and live on land while the adults are found in small bodies of fresh water such as ponds, lakes, and marshes from spring through the fall. I usually start seeing the adults in the waters of Cooper Lake around mid -May and most recently have discovered a few in late October as well. They have a green brownish color with small black dots scattered on the back. Once again I encountered my best treasure when least expecting it, so if you go to Cooper Lake, look into the waters,be sure to bring your camera………… and enjoy!
Eastern Red Spotted Newt at Cooper Lake