We discovered an interesting activity through Genesee County Parks and Recreation this past week — a salamander hunt in the Hogbacks out near Holloway Reservoir.
These sorts of activities are not only something my son Sam seems to enjoy, but it gives me a chance to see how he functions off the football and baseball field or basketball ball court. It’s funny because that same competitiveness he shows in sports spills over into almost everything else he does.
We arrived at the Hogbacks and met up with the group, which was headed by a University of Michigan-Flint biologist and a naturalist from For-Mar Nature Preserve.
We joined the group and Sam quickly sized up the competition. That’s right,thiswasnotjustaanaturehike to find and study salamander — it was a battle of the wits with the other children in attendance and he pulled out every bit of knowledge he’d collected on the subjects of amphibians and reptiles.
Having shown he knew a few things about salamanders, newts, frogs and snakes, Sam joined Anita and I with the group and we made our way into the Hogbacks. I was amazed at the hilly terrain there and found myself in awe of the wildlife we saw — swans, woodpeckers and various kinds of frogs, snakes and salamanders.
The first pond we investigated yielded an array of creatures. Sam was fortunate to find a baby Northern Water Snake, which he caught with the help of the guide (sorry, I have an aversion to snakes about like that of Indiana Jones). Proud of his find, he continued to search once his snake was viewed by the group and released back into its habitat.
As the other kids in the group found salamanders beneath the rocks and logs they were searching, Sam became more intent on finding them as well.
I began to understand his love of sports as I watched him searching to find more creepy crawlers in the leaves, logs and pond water of the Hogback — it had become a competition and Sam was really getting into it.
The more other kids found salamanders, the more Sam searched. He and I together must have found 5-6 of the little creatures ourselves and he didn’t want to give up until our guides finally told us it was time to go. For the first time I was able to fully appreciate that competitive drive my son has, the one which has made him excel in sports … and now apparently salamander hunting.
On a separate note, I want to commend Genesee County Parks and Recreation for the salamander hunt and I would recommend it to other families. It’s a fun, hands-on and very educational activity I would recommend to other kids and parents looking for a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.