Between midterms, papers, and St. Patrick's Day festivities, I have made it out to the ponds a couple of times to see what amphibians were around.
The first night was warm, but dry, and I was a little worried that we wouldn't see good numbers of amphibians. Every vernal pond was completely ice-free and it wasn't long before we saw the first of many newts on the evening.
Every pond we checked had decent numbers of Spotted and Blue-spotted Salamanders, but there were only a few frogs. Spring Peepers were only sporadically calling, as were Wood Frogs. A few more days of warm weather, especially if we get a good deluge of rain, and there will be huge numbers of several species. Even still, we did get a few Wood Frogs.
Matt holding on to his woodie...hehe.
We did find a big ole Bullfrog just hanging out on the trail. Bullfrogs aren't very common on the site - in fact I have seen less than 20 of them over the years.
Reuven made a great find with a Northern Brownsnake under a log. This was, by over two weeks, the earliest Brownsnake I have had at the site.
Of course, several first-of-year Green Frogs were swimming along the edges of the vernal ponds, and tadpoles, which take over a year to metamorphisize and spend the winter in the ponds, were also easy to find in the larger vernal ponds.
Matt found a snake as well - this time a Northern Ribbonsnake. While they are easy to find in the day, I have only ever found 2 before at night during the early spring.
The entire evening we were being serenaded by several owls, including 7+ Eastern Screech-owls and 1 Great Horned Owl. A few packs of coyotes howled in the distance, and lightning danced on the horizon though rain never did arrive. Several of the screech-owls came to check us out.
The following night was more of the same - same weather conditions and same species observed. I managed to photograph several Spring Peepers, including this individual. Unfortunately they were a bit camera-shy and wouldn't call while we were photographing them. As the spring wears on, their boldness will increase!
A Blue-spotted Salamander crossing the road to reach its vernal pond. Fortunately car traffic on this road is quite light so only a few individuals get killed annually. In other areas road mortality is a huge problem.
Natasha with a Blue-spotted Salamander
And finally, one of the many dozens of Spotted Salamanders that breed in these vernal ponds. We also saw a single male Four-toed Salamander crossing the trail (not photographed by me), the first of the year.
Coming up - I will be traveling to Point Pelee and area for a few days this week. Hoping for some record early spring migrants!