Vernal Pool

I’m 52 years old, and I still like to go mucking around in the ponds.  I guess all those years of singing I Won’t Grow Up at Girl Scout Camp, then later in the show Peter Pan caused a self-fulfilling prophecy…  Anyway, I just can’t resist going to the ponds in spring…

A bunch of us went out with Dr. Tom Erlandson to visit several ponds at the Erlandson Overlook Park (named in his honor).  Seems none of us can grow up, eh?

Tom Erlandson and Group

At the first pond, we came across huge egg masses that were hatching.  From the edge of the pond, the masses looked like Wood Frog eggs.  We scooped some into a pan to observe.

Salamander (?) Larvae and Caddisfly Larvae

The amphibian larvae were only about the size of a hemlock needle.  (Do you also see the Caddisfly Larvae in the middle of the egg mass?)  So, we went on blithely telling people that these are Wood Frog Eggs and the little guys are Wood Frog tadpoles…

But then, we looked more closely…

Mystery Larva

The gills are on the outside of the little guy’s head… But are they feathery enough to make it a salamander larva, rather than a tadpole?  Still not sure…  Here’s a little 30-second video in which my friend Mike encourages the little critters to swim for us:

So, what do you think?  Wood Frogs?  Or Salamanders?


A New Toy

I decided that it would be nice to have a little point and shoot camera that would fit in my pocket or purse… for hiking, backpacking, the classroom, etc.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Just something for snapshots.

After a moderate amount of looking around and reading reviews, I decided on the Canon PowerShot A1000 IS.  I have a lot of learning to do…  But this morning (4:30 am) I got up and took it out to the vernal pool to see how it would do in low light…

The path around the backyard ponds sparkled with glowworms.  I picked one up in my left hand, held the flashlight between my knees, and used my right hand to snap this photo:


Out at the pool, I got these:

Spotted Salamander Encounter


And just for fun, I recorded this Spring Peeper Chorus…

Hmm… I can’t figure out how to embed it here.  Guess I’ll have to figure that out!  You can go to flickr to hear it:

OK, I figured it out.  (Thanks TGAW – though I had figured it out for my Gorge-ous post.)

I’m looking forward to giving this little camera a workout this spring…


Sarah and I walked yesterday afternoon 4:30ish.  Warm, sunny, breezy… glorious.  Bluebird pair investigating boxes on the Big Field.  And herps…

Goose and Turtles - by Jeff TomeSpring Peepers going crazy in the ponds.  And a lone Leopard Frog calling.  A big fat Bullfrog.  Lots of Painted Turtles.

We walked out to the Vernal Pool to see if we had missed the salamander run.  There were Jefferson eggs, some spermataphore… but no sign of Spotted Salamanders yet, nor even of Wood Frogs.  Yay!  We haven’t missed it.

It’s Official

Spring Peeper by Jeremy MartinMy gallbladder is gone.

Many thanks to all my friends and family who are being so good to me and so supportive.  But special thanks to Concetta who called me at the hospital from the side of the road near a pond so that I could l hear the Awesome Spring Peepers while I was recovering!

Thanks also to Jeremy Martin who might not know that I used his picture here (again)!


Spotted Salamander

It wasn’t the biggest night that I’ve ever observed… but there were Spotted Salamanders in our vernal pool last night…  I was a little disturbed to see this big fellow:


Snapping Turtle


Do Snapping Turtles eat Spotted Salamanders?  I know they eat the eggs!

I’d tell you more… but I’m running late for our Volunteer Appreciation Pancake Breakfast.  And I’m one of the cooks!