A Pleasant Surprise
This weekend I finally got around to picking up the debris that had been strewn about my yard from the last big storm that blew through. I was working on a pile of palm fronds that were stacked on the lawn when I spied something curious. A tiny face was staring up at me.
The little creature couldn’t have been more than 2 inches long and maybe a quarter of an inch across.
Was it a earthworm? No, it had eyes. Perhaps it was lizard. I don’t think so. It seems a bit moist to be a lizard. It sure looks like a salamander, but I know we don’t have salamanders in inland San Diego County.
While I was puzzling over this fellow’s identity, he just contentedly stared up at me, blinking occasionally. What could it be? I gently picked him up and placed him in a pot of chamomile so he wouldn’t wander too far off, and went inside to see if I could ID him.
After a few minutes on Google Images, low and behold, I had a Garden slender salamander (Batrachoseps major major) on my hands. Apparently these salamanders are fairly common in these parts but I had never seen one around here. I thought I might grab a few photos of him while I as at it. He was a very cooperative model and immensely patient while I toiled away taking pictures of him.
A salamander, indeed! What a pleasant discovery while working in the garden.
To capture these images I used a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and an EX 580II flash. The flash was fired remotely using a pair of Pocket Wizards with the power dialed back just enough to balance it a bit with the ambient light. I used a Honl speed snoot as a bounce card to try and soften the light and wrap it around the subject (literally and figuratively).