Final holiday update - Mudppy Night in Oxford Mills

One of the several reasons I came back to Peterborough this holiday season was to go to Mudpuppy Night (happening every Friday at 8 PM starting with the first Friday after Thanksgiving) with friends from Peterborough.  I don't remember exactly how I come across information about this event (probably from reading someone's blog post, such as this), but it is something I want to do for a while now. 

On Friday afternoon, we started our journey from Peterborough, and we couldn't had asked for a better weather with just a few degrees below zero.

Rural lifestyle
View from the farm where we dropped Bronte off for the night.

We arrived at Kemptville Creek (near the intersection of Water and Bridge Streets) just around 8 PM and was greeted by the starry sky.  If you Google" mudpuppy" and "Oxford Mills", you'd be certain to come across a lot of information about Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus), so I won't really go into it here (e.g., this and this).  But if I have describe this place in one word, I'd say it is special (or two words - very special).  There are a lot of places with similar conditions (shallow, rocky, clean, and relatively slow-flowing water), but to have tens of wild salamanders right in front of you, I doubt there is another place like it in Canada (or perhaps even North America).  Plus, Dr. Fred Scheuler is a very knowledge expert on Mudpuppies, so coming here, seeing the Mudpuppies in-person, and talking with Fred is the only reasonable way to learn about Mudpuppies.

Counting Mudpuppies by wading in the cold water with a giant flashlight.

Mudpuppies don't like LED lights (like the one I have for my camera) so taking photos of them in their habitat was impossible.  Plus, my camera is not very good in the dark.

Fred used a dipnet to collect a few Mudpuppies for feces sampling.  That was my only opportunity to properly photograph them, but I still had to rely on other people's light and use manual focus.

Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus)
Mudpuppies are about a foot-long and active year-round, preying on small vertebrates and isopods.

Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus)
Even though Mudpuppies have lungs, they depend mostly on their gills (and skin) to "breathe".  When placed in a place with limited oxygen content (e.g., inside the bucket), their gills become redder and flushed with blood in order to carry as much oxygen back into the body as possible.

Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus)
You can tell the water is very cold because ice is already forming inside the bucket.

Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus)
They are just amazing creatures.

Ever so often, they would come up to the surface and gulp for air.

Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus)
A crayfish was also collected.

A team of people searching and looking for Mudpuppies.  Fred post his weekly field notes online and the ones about this particularly outing can be found here - a total of 123 adults were counted.

Afterwards, we all headed to Brigadoon Restaurant for warm drinks and apparently delicious desserts.

Brigadoon Restaurant
My lens was fogged when I was taking a photo of my hot chocolate, and it created an interesting effect on the image.  Great times!

Afterwards, my friends graciously did at least a 1.5-hour detour to return me back to Ottawa before embarking on another 3.5 hour drive back to Peterborough.


Time for me to settle down and get back into writing and researching mode.  I purchased a new laptop (Lenovo G500) this Boxing Day to replace my old laptop from 2007 (which is low in hard drive memory and have strange power/battery issues).  I saw the above image after retrieving my new laptop from the post office, it reminded me of a stick figure wearing a top hat and scarves and walking down the street in the snow.  Just a random thought about an interesting image.

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