By Hannah Ritchings.

I started my internship at Moose Mountains Regional Greenways in November of last year, keen on land conservation, environmental protection, and wildlife; especially reptiles and amphibians. With the help of Joshua Megyesy of New Hampshire Fish and Game, MMRG created a species inventory project for me to manage during New England’s warmer months. I was tasked with conducting a complete species survey at three of our properties, visiting each site twice a month from April to June. My goal was to track observed species during my visits through data sheets, with my main species of interest being frogs, snakes, turtles, and salamanders. To solidify the proper identification and location of each animal observed, I will photograph each animal found and label the coordinates at which they were found.

My first stop was the Shillaber Easement in Farmington, a current MMRG project. Upon inspection, the property seemed an ideal habitat for turtles and amphibians, with wetlands covering large sections of the land. 

I did my best to walk as much of the edges of the wetland as possible, however, the soft and muddy ground made travel difficult and I don’t believe I even covered half of the circumference of the wetland. An hour had passed and I had yet to find anything, taunted by the calls of various frogs deeper into the wetland. I returned to drier land in hopes of finding salamanders, but once again, came up empty handed. Soaked up past my ankles, covered in mud and dirt, I hiked back to my truck and returned home. 

This first trip may have produced underwhelming results, but served as a learning opportunity for me in how to better prepare for my next survey, ways I could improve, and how to keep better track of my data. I look forward to continuing my surveying journey and sharing what I find.

Cover photo of Shillaber Easement, courtesy of Hannah Ritchings.