January 30, 2021 (Saturday) - North Side

Conducted survey of North side with @merav from 9:30 am - 2:50 pm. Weather was 44F, cloudy when we started the survey.
Even before we started the survey, we were expecting a large number of dead newts owing to the recent rains, but we were in for a surprise.
My phone gave up on the way back because of the constant activity of clicking photos.

According to my observations(on my phone), we documented 279 dead newts, 2 of which were juvenile. No live newts observed. One bicyclist passing by asked us what we were doing at HTH survey location 2, and said 1/4 mile back, he saw a live newt crossing the road. So I rushed back to see if I can help it get to the other side. I reached there too late, the cars got to it first. :(

HTH team might have got to their survey locations before us, since I peeked into some pitfall traps and they were empty. We did find 5 dead ones in their survey sites that they missed
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68843349
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68843356
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68843349
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68875475
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68875472

Other roadkill: None (had our hands full with the Newts)

Updated!

Documented Human Activity(which broke some records as well)
Trucks: 2 (Since the Quarry was closed these trucks were for some other business)
Cars: 282
Motorcycles: 4
Bikes: 110
Pedestrians: 110
Parked Cars: 98

Notes: In short, today was a long and an exhausting day not just due to the high number of dead newts but the heavy traffic. In times like this, it is really helpful to have a team of two, so one can keep an eye out for incoming cars while the other person tries to make the observation. 10 'o clock at the rowing club attracts parents driving their kids at the speed of light and its always better to read a book till the mad rush is over, if you don't like interruptions every 5 secs.

There was a biking couple who asked about HTH pitfall traps and I explained the purpose and how our study is covering more than these areas. They thanked me for what we do and said when they were joggers, they used to see a lot of newts crossing the road.

There were another lady with her dog, who was asking us about the newt survey. And then she went on some story about finding Tiger Salamander in her pool, Merav shared the newt patrol page with her.

Another instance was 2 girls asking if we are rescuing lizards, to which we explained the whole story. And then Merav asked them to check the Newt Patrol website if they want to help and do their part, which I doubt they will do.

Link to my observations: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?on=2021-01-30&place_id=any&q=roadkill&user_id=karangattu&verifiable=any

Lähettänyt karangattu karangattu, 31. tammikuuta 2021 04:10

Kommentit

Thumb

What a tragic day. Thank you so much for rushing back, I'm sorry it was too late. Were you really there 6 hours?

Lähettänyt anudibranchmom 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Ugh!!! The true horror begins...
The traffic to/from that rowing club is awful. Yes, it's a continuous stream of speeding cars at the beginning and end of each hourly class, beginning at 7am on weekends.
@merav, @tyap, in 2019 I wrote a letter to the owner & manager of the club telling them about the newt roadkill tragedy and urging them to either start a shuttle service from the dam parking lot or move their launching pad to the other side of the reservoir. They responded that they were sad about the newts, but said it was their clients' responsibility, not the club's.
Is there a way to pressure them to reconsider?

Lähettänyt truthseqr 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Yes @anudibranchmom, at one point Merav even joked about getting pizzas delivered at the rowing club since it was taking so much time documenting these newts.

Lähettänyt karangattu 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

What a long, grueling day @karangattu and @merav! That surely sets records. I am not surprised that there were so many newts (still, wah!), but having the documentation constantly interrupted by dangerous, clueless people surely made it so much worse. One of my friends thinks we should go with a flagger in front, like road crews have.

Regarding the rowing club, there's yet another example of how so many people consider the Sixth Mass Extinction to be Somebody Else's Problem. It would be interesting to do a poll of those parents to find out how many consider themselves environmentalists and/or good drivers. I (very unfortunately, never again) live near a high school, and am astonished at the piss poor example that parents provide to their student drivers every single day. Do the lessons only happen on Saturdays, or Sundays too? Seems like something to be avoided if at all possible.

Lähettänyt newtpatrol 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

The lessons happen on both Saturdays and Sundays, at least they did back in 2019. After talking to the manager & trainers at the club, I stopped a parent who almost ran me over racing to get her daughter to class on time. She was very hostile. Said she couldn't even see the newts on the road because they were so small. I suggested that the parents should get together and start a shuttle service, and she rolled her eyes at me. She recognized me from the Mercury News article and accused me of only caring about the newts so I could get my name in the paper. She was a privileged rich white woman who couldn't care less about newts or any other roadkilled creatures. It was a very unpleasant experience!

Lähettänyt truthseqr 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Dang, thanks @karangattu and @merav for powering through! That sounds intense. The South Side was less crazy, documented about 82 dead newts. Still need to go through and upload photos, so that number may change but something around there.
@truthseqr, I wonder if the rowing club would be open to putting up some newt signage? I saw a sign that Marin Municipal Water District put up at Lake Lagunitas - it was made by 4th graders at a nearby school (and is pretty awesome!). I think it could help if we target some messaging at kiddos and young folks who may be unaware of the issue.

Lähettänyt tyap 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Apparently the rowing club already put up notices about the newts and urged their patrons to drive carefully. Speed limit is 25mph and 15mph around curves, but I'd guess most of them drive 40mph and don't slow around curves. The signage doesn't seem to help.
Just a word of caution... a member of the Chileno Valley Newt Brigade told me that a couple times when they stopped traffic to help the newts cross the road, residents pulled guns on them. I don't want anyone to get hurt out there.

Lähettänyt truthseqr 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Wow, everyone's anecdotes are horrifying - and @truthseqr I am doubly horrified by the confrontations you've had with truly horrible human beings. Not everyone wants to be educated.
Which leads me to: I am very concerned for our team's physical safety as well, particularly on weekends. Is it possible to get the county involved in providing us (and HTH as well) increased sheriff presence/protection on this treacherous road? Should we place traffic cones/warning signage up alongside the road when we are there?
At minimum: Is it possible to do our surveys at dawn, maybe with a flashing headlamp for visibility, when there is less traffic and possibly more newts?

Lähettänyt anudibranchmom 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

I've seen longboats on the reservoir before dawn (when it's still dark outside). That would make it really dangerous to be on that road with 30 or more cars speeding to get their kids to class on time. I wish we could get a schedule of classes. I tried to do that once, but their schedules are only visible to members.

Lähettänyt truthseqr 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

I do see this on the FAQ page for Los Gatos Rowing Club

What is the practice schedule?
Practices for novice and varsity teams are held after school, usually starting at 3:30pm and lasting 2-3 hours; and on weekends, usually in the mornings. Each squad typically practices four-five times per week in the Fall season, and five to six times per week in the Spring season. Practices for both middle school programs are two days per week for two hours each time.

Lähettänyt karangattu 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Damn, that's insane, @truthseqr! Guns drawn over newts crossing the road. People are dramatic. I think doing the surveys in pairs is the first step we can take to improve people's safety. At least on weekends, but I personally think in general good safety practice is to survey in pairs. I know that puts a strain on the small team, but luckily @merav just signed up some new volunteers woo hoo! Is that something folks would be willing to try out?

Lähettänyt tyap 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

@karangattu, when I was out on the road, it seemed there was activity every hour - parents coming to drop kids off or pick them up from class. Sometimes there are multiple boats on the reservoir - I've seen as many as 3, each carrying about 30 people. If the classes last for 2 hours, I wonder if they overlap, e.g., 6-8am, 7-9am, 8-10am, 9-11am, and so on. I couldn't tell from the practice schedule.

A Ph.D. candidate who was working on the UCSC Puma Project told me their team was tracking mountain lions in Sierra Azul (adjacent to private land) and someone actually shot at them. Just be careful out there, y'all.

Lähettänyt truthseqr 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

@merav, @sea-kangaroo, @newtpatrol, @joescience, @anudibranchmom, @karangattu, @tyap
I just want to thank all of you for the work you're doing. It's very comforting to know there are good people like you who love nature and actually care about saving innocent creatures. I must say, it was very lonely out there doing surveys by myself that first year without anyone to share these kinds of experiences with and without any support from anyone local until @merav came along in Jan 2019. (@biohexx1 gave me a lot of emotional support and co-authored the Bay Nature article that first year.) Since then, through her own hard work and her many contacts, @merav has gotten the word out, caring people are helping, and I hope we're getting closer to a solution.

Lähettänyt truthseqr 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

wow, I just got the read all these horrific stories - this is crazy!
I'm happy to say that so far most people have been nice to me.
I agree with Tiffany - yesterday it was very useful to have two people doing the survey together. Not very efficient, but at least less dangerous. One of us was watching the road at the blind curves. I think it would be better to have 2 people surveying the north section on Weekends. I did recruit 3 more people who would like to be helpers = join someone else on the survey. They were happy to take notes/ scrap the road/ watch for traffic, and anything else needed. I think it would be great to have them join us.

Lähettänyt merav 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

@karangattu - I finished uploading this morning, and I've got 71 observations to add to this project. That includes the photos I took on a few occasions, among them, 2 observations in front of HTH Array #2, photos with flags that should be included here as well - were found on the road after the previous regular survey on Tuesday morning and some observations I made after your phone died.
The HTH observations -
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68875475
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68875472
The HTH observations that you shared in your post - were the 3 of them taken in front of HTH?

Lähettänyt merav 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Yes, I have added which survey sites they were taken in front of, in the pic.

Lähettänyt karangattu 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Updated the total count to 279 Newts and added the HTH observations as well

Lähettänyt karangattu 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)
Thumb

Thanks, @karangattu!

Lähettänyt merav 2 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)

Lisää kommentti

Kirjaudu sisään tai Rekisteröidy lisätäksesi kommentteja