Vernal Pool Pilgrimage

Morning Staff Meeting.  Live Animal Report.  “Everybody’s fine.”

“But hey, speaking of live animals, do you think tonight might be the night?”

“Could be.  Rain.  Temps near sixty.”

“It’s supposed to get cold again, though.  And snow.”

Later in the day, we check the hour by hour forecast.  Temperatures aren’t supposed to drop until 11pm or midnight.  I send an email to the Spontaneous Naturalist list, post a notice on Facebook, and call Wanda.  “Tonight’s the night.  Dig out your rain gear and your strongest flashlight.  I’ll pick you up at 7:30.”

Wanda

Wanda - dressed for the weather, flashlight ready!

We arrive just as the light is fading.  Peepers are singing.  Rain is steady, but not unpleasant.  We walk out the maintenance road, along the big field, into the woods and find two friends on a bench, clad in rain gear, also waiting for the migration.

We chat a bit, then head for the pond.

We pick our way around the edge, shining flashlights into the water.

All our old friends are here, all anticipating spring, as are we.

Wood Frog
Wood Frog

Leopard Frog
Leopard Frog

Spotted Salamanders
Spotted Salamanders

Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle

There is also evidence that the reason for coming the pond has already started, if you know what I mean…

Eggs
Wood Frog and Jefferson/Blue Spotted Salamander Eggs

Salamander Eggs
Jefferson/Blue-spotted Eggs

Spotted Salamander w/ Spermatophore
Spotted Salamander w/ Spermatophores

The amphibians were not as plentiful as I have sometimes seen them, bit it was relatively early when we headed home. We did not hear Wood Frogs singing on the way to the pond, but on the way back to the car, we did. So perhaps it got “busier” at the pool after we left.

I love to visit the vernal pools in spring. It has become a tradition.

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5 thoughts on “Vernal Pool Pilgrimage

  1. Wow! I haven’t seen or heard any of our “friends” yet this spring. Could be because we live in a higher elevation and there is still ice around the edges of the pools and vernal pond. We live at about 2,000 feet, what is the elevation where you were?

    When I awoke this morning the hemlocks are draped in veils of white, and the ground is covered with snow again. And the snow continues to fall, steady and calm. I looked out my window and dispaired that Spring would ever come, so your pictures give me hope and remind me to be patient.

  2. The April National Geographic contains an interesting article about European common frogs that begin calling underwater before the surface ice has melted. They even get a head start on mating by hibernating in amplexus.

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