Just a bit of personal news. This past weekend I got married on Rich Mountain at the Queen Wilhelmina lodge. The long ridge that is Rich Mountain is located on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas and is home to one of the most beautiful salamanders in the world, the highly endemic Rich Mountain Salamander. Found only on a few mountaintops in this part of the Ouachita Mountains, the Rich Mountain Salamander is one of several Ouachita Mountain endemic salamander species inhabitating the region.
Though I study birds, I have always been equally fascinated with salamanders. Many of the things I love to study in birds, endemism, speciation, biogeography can be appreciated in even greater detail in salamanders. They also can be very difficult to find and have beautiful and remote locations where they are found. It has always surprised me than that "salamander watching" is not a more popular pastime. But perhaps it is for the best, the habitats of these often rare creatures can be sensitive, and I am afraid that there are too many "herpers" interested in collecting rather than just watching or photographing these beautiful animals.
Still I hope that we as birders have a fascination and respect for all the biodiversity of the earth and a desire to see quality conservation across the spectrum of life!