There is a host of small, fascinating creatures living just out of sight in the most commonplace of locations. Strolling along the side of a flowing river or stream we are most likely attracted to the general natural beauty of the scene. Flashy birds like kingfishers or herons may grab our attention; raccoons, beavers, or otters might pop up from time to time. But these are generally wildlife observations of short duration. Tone down that hiking pace and kneel down alongside the shoreline and you’ll be in for an eye opening glimpse into the lives of some pretty amazing animals – and most of them won’t run away the minute you see them either.

If you happen to be wandering in the upper elevations of our Northwest region check out the cold flowing waters and you just might see one of our more unusual frogs. Tailed frogs are so named for that little appendage you see in the photo; it is used in mating. Freshwater sculpins hide among the rocks and dash about when uncovered. These fast moving little fish do well in aquariums if you are able to keep up with their feeding requirements of small worms and such. Crayfish also make an interesting pet. By the way, we have a species here that boasts a unique orange color. There is always an assortment of jelly like egg sacks to be found.  But the most prominent and interesting examples of streamside wildlife are the insect larvae. Stoneflies and mayflies prowl about like little dragons looking for anything small enough for them to eat. Caddis fly larvae, encased in their colorful stony shelters, can be found clinging to the bottom of large rocks. I understand they are often used as fishbait.

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