Eugene Weekly : It’s About Time : 11.4.10

By David Wagner

rough skinned newt, Taricha granulosa.

November is a good month to think about going to the Oregon coast for an autumnal adventure. Except around the major holidays, off season rates invite the locals to enjoy staying in a favorite bed and breakfast or resort hideaway. The birds are different this time of the year, with migrants still passing through and winter residents settled in. A few wooly bear caterpillars might be seen hunting for the right spot to pupate. Late mushrooms to look for include the always pleasing oyster mushroom. It likes decaying alder logs.

The newts will have gotten down to their favorite ponds to breed by now. The males arrive first and wait for the ladies. Egg laying will take place before long and the young larvae will emerge in late winter or early spring. They may take two seasons to mature. Slow moving, they appear vulnerable to any hungry predator. Newt skin contains a virulent toxin, however, and they defend themselves by showing their bright yellow belly and curled tail underside that says, “stay away.” A single newt, swallowed by a young man on a dare, is enough to kill him.

Snow is likely to arrive in the high country this month. Like the October rains, it is unpredictable in timing and quantity. Some years Thanksgiving Vacation is for skiing, some years it’s for hiking. We can expect McKenzie Pass to close for the season and for Crater Lake to enter its winter mode, attracting cross country skiers instead of mountain bikers. 

David Wagner is a botanist who has worked in Eugene for more than 30 years. Every year he makes the Willamette Valley Nature Calendar, available this month at Down to Earth and the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene; First Alternatives and Grass Roots Bookstore in Corvallis. Reach him at


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