The Red Eft

Eastern Newt (Red Eft Stage) (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens) - Robert Treman State Park, New York

Eastern Newt (Red Eft Stage) (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens) - Robert Treman State Park, New York

This past weekend, I was one of four instructors for a Backcountry Photography class offered by Cornell Outdoor Education.  We left Friday evening and returned Sunday after spending a couple days hiking and exploring Robert H. Treman State Park and Lick Brook Gorge here in Ithaca.

For me, most of the trip was dedicated to teaching rather than photographing, but Sunday morning I was up before the rest of the group and had a few minutes to photograph on my own.  I was only carrying a wide angle and a macro lens so when I found this small salamander, I got the macro out and set up.  Now, I don’t do all that much macro work and had never photographed a salamander before, but I was pleased with the setup and the light.  The setup here is pretty simple as I simply photographed this salamander on a nice patch of moss in fairly diffuse early morning light.

Since getting home, I have done a little bit of research on these critters and learned a lot.  First off, the Red Eft is actually the juvenile stage of the Eastern Newt.  Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens) have three stages of life, an aquatic tadpole stage, the juvenile terrestrial stage (the eft), and then a final adult aquatic stage.  Additionally, there are four subspecies found in the eastern United States.  It appears that I have photographed the nominative subspecies Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens, also known as the Red-spotted Newt.

You never know what you will encounter when out for a walk in the woods in the spring.  Tomorrow I’ll share a few images of some of the wildflowers I found on the trip.

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