Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission

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Salamander update #12 - Beekman Road will be closed tonight for amphibian protection

Posted by Friends EB EC on April 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Beekman Road will be closed today, Monday, April 7, for amphibian migration.

The road will be closed from 7pm until 6am tomorrow morning.

It is possible that the whole population of spotted salamanders have already migrated to the veranl pool during pevious rainy nighs. However,  we decided to clost the road tonight beacuse the ground is wet, the rain continues, and the tempratures are high enough for amphibian activity, and there may be some individuals still waiting to cross. 

IMPORTANT REMINDERS ABOUT SAFETY AND FLASHLIGHTS


Be carful when you park - there is a big ditch next to the parking area at the back to Tamarack - car have been stuck there a few times recently. 

Please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE (Children included) MUST have their OWN flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

Salamander Migration Update #11

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 30, 2014 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (2)

Beekman Road will be closed today, Sunday, March 30, for amphibian migration.

The road will be closed from 7pm until 6am tomorrow morning.

Although there were many spring peepers, no salamanders were found crossing the road yesterday. It is possible that the whole population if spotted salamanders made it to the veranl pool. However,  we decided to clost the road tonight beacuse the ground is wet, the rain continues, and the tempratures are high enough for amphibian activity, and there may be some individuals still waiting to cross. 

IMPORTANT REMINDERS ABOUT SAFETY AND FLASHLIGHTS

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

Be carful when you park - there is a big ditch next to the parking area at the back to Tamarack - car have been stuck there a few times recently. 

If the road is closed and you come out at night, please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE (Children included) MUST have their OWN flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.

Salamander Migration Update #10

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 29, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Beekman Road will be closed today, Saturday March 29, for amphibian migration.  The road will be closed from 7pm until 6am tomorrow morning.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS ABOUT SAFETY AND FLASHLIGHTS

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

If the road is closed and you come out at night, please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE (Children included) MUST have their OWN flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.


Salamander Migration Update #9

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 28, 2014 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Beekman Road will remain open to car traffic today, Friday, March 28th.  With very little rain in the afternoon, and no rain in the evening, we think the ground will not be wet enough for salamander to move. 

We are watching the weather for tomorrow - and as of now we are thinking of closing the road on Saturday, March 29th.  Please check the website / Facebook / Twitter for updates.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS ABOUT SAFETY AND FLASHLIGHTS

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

If the road is closed and you come out at night, please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE (Children included) MUST have their OWN flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.


Salamander Migration Update #8

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 20, 2014 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (1)

What happened last night? From an ecological perspective, the temperatures were around 40 near dark and the steady rain held off until about 8:30. The afternoon rain that began about 4:00 didn't last long although it certainly increased the humidity and wetted everything down. For anyone arriving just after dark, at first it was simply an empty, cold, wet road. Still fun and exciting but lacking any amphibians. From about 7:30 to 8:30 the rain began again but was generally light and intermittent. But about 8:30 it began to rain steadily and with it there was an evident increase in amphibian movements. Up until that time, other than a wayward spring peeper not much was seen on the road. But with the steady and heavier rain a few spotted salamanders began appearing and so did spring peepers. With the appearance of a few spotted salamanders there were actually screams of joy from some of the kids that dragged their parents out on a school\work night. However, from our observations there wasn't an unhappy adult face in the crowd.  About 75 people were walking the road with flashlights and braving the wet chill (that's salamander weather) and reveling in the last night of a long, cold, challenging winter and the advent of spring! It was quite evident from the reactions of so many people that when you see a spotted salamander making its way across Beekman Road even when it is wet and raw, it is worth every second of being out there.


If you weren't able to make it, here is a list of some of the highlights:


  • Well, for one thing, everyone that came out probably saw a spotted salamander and a spring peeper! 
  • The Friends led tours to the vernal pools and everyone that came along got to hear spring peepers calling and to see how amazing they are.
  • Denise Contrino, our incredibly amazing town-centric Town Council member came out and saw her first ever spotted salamander. We appropriately named it "Denise". 
  • The 4th graders in town are studying vernal pools and salamanders as part of an amazing grant awarded by the EB Education Foundation and they showed up en masse. We typically reserve the wods en masse for spotted salamander migrations but it was equally appropriate for them last night. They all came with an incredible knowledge of the importance and ecology of vernal pools and asked amazing questions too!   

So what is next? Salamander migrations tend to occur in waves and these first two nights both featured movements. We suspect that on subsequent rainy nights, especially if it ever gets warmer, that we will have increased amphibian activity on the road. The spotted salamander migration may be largely done but there will almost certainly be stragglers. Since every female can carry 100-300 eggs we don't want to risk losing even one and will close the road accordingly as weather conditions warrant. We also are striving to protect the suite of other vernal pool species in our vernal pools including Eastern newts, snapping turtles, pickerel frogs, green frogs, bull frogs, gray tree frogs, cricket frogs and wood frogs.
      

Vernal pools are the "oasis in the forest". Over the years we've lost the vast majority in East Brunswick. We are so fortunate to have the ones along Beekman Road protected on County lands. But with Beekman Road crossing through the habitat we need to be vigilant in protecting the species that utilize these last remaining special habitats. Please let the Mayor and Town Council, Police and Public Works know how much you appreciate their efforts. A HUGE kudos is due their unwavering concern and protection of our spotted salamanders, turtles, newts and frogs!      

Salamander Migration Update #7

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 19, 2014 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Beekman Road will be closed tonight. According to the NOAA forecast today looks to be damp with some light precipitation in the afternoon transitioning to rain after dark. Temperatures will be just above 40. With the big night exactly one week ago it is hard to know what might move on these subsequent rain events. But spotted salamander and frog migrations to vernal pools tend to occur in waves so we close the road to insure we don't miss any. 


Here is the latest NOAA forecast for today/tonight:


Today Scattered sprinkles and flurries before 2pm, then a chance of rain showers. Cloudy, with a high near 43. Southeast wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.


Tonight Showers, mainly before 3am. Low around 38. Southeast wind 8 to 10 mph becoming southwest after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.


IMPORTANT REMINDERS ABOUT SAFETY AND FLASHLIGHTS

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

If the road is closed and you come out at night, please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE (Children included) MUST have their OWN flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.



 

Salamander Migration Update #6

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 18, 2014 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Since the big night last Wednesday, there hasn't really been any combination of temperature and precipitation to suggest another migratory movement or much amphibian activity. But all that may change tomorrow if the NOAA forecast pans out:


A chance of showers after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Southeast wind 7 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.


Wednesday Night Showers likely, mainly before 2am. Cloudy, with a low around 36. Southeast wind 7 to 10 mph becoming southwest after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.


So we are closely monitoring the conditions and will decide whether to close Beekman Road sometime tomorrow. With the big migration last week we don't know what to expect on the next few warmish rainy nights. Typically in mid-March and April these kind of nights are excellent for stimulating amphibian activity. Spotted salamander migrations often occur in waves and the migration we saw last Wednesday night may have been just the first of a few.  


A VERY IMPORTANT SAFETY REMINDER -

READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS!

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

If the road is closed and you come out at night, please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE MUST have their OWN flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.


 

  

Salamander Migration Update #5

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 12, 2014 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Tonight was amazing! The salamanders surprised us with one of the best nights ever. So much for our earlier post that it might not be a big night because of the temperature and lack of rainfall. As it turned out, bands of heavy steady rain began to fall right after dark and the temeprature held pretty steady near 60. That was apparently the right combination and a big trigger for a big migration. When my daughter and I left at 10 PM we had counted 81 spotted salamanders, countless spring peepers, a few green frogs, a Pickerel frog and the first wood frog I've ever seen on the road. There were even choruses of spring peepers at the pools. Tonight just goes to show how difficult it is to predict when the salamanders might cross and why we close the road even when we aren't sure. There will certainly be other nights of movement this spring, but tonight was a biggie for sure. Luckily we decided to close the road and a huge number of salmanders were able to safely cross tonight. Everyone that came out was treated to quite the show. Here are a few photos from tonight. See you on the enxt warm rainy night out on Beekman. 


 


Salamander Migration Update #4

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 12, 2014 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Beekman Road will be closed tonight. However, as often happens in March, the forecast has not really panned out as predicted. This morning NOAA was calling for rain by 1 PM and steady heavy rain by late afternoon with imbedded thunderstorms in the evening. While we have had some light rain it hasn't been very heavy. So our thoughts are that tonight will not be the "big night". We have seen movement on these type of nights, but with falling temperatures predicted for tonight, it just may become too cold too fast and not feature enough rain for much of anything. But then again, maybe there will be salamanders and our prediction is wrong :) 

Regardless, we always try and err on the side of the salamanders. Since each female can carry hundreds of eggs, we don't want to take a chance and not close the road on nights when they might migrate. The loss of a single female means the potential loss of many salamanders to the overall population. Predicting the migration is simply an educated guess and we do the best we can. We close the road on multiple nights each spring when we think they may migrate just to be sure.         

READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS!

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

If the road is closed and you come out at night, please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE MUST have their OWN flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.

 

 

Salamander Migration Update #3

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 11, 2014 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (1)

For anyone that has the pleasure to walk outside today in the brilliant sunshine and wonderful and long overdue warmth it is very evident that big changes are happening and fast. While we are going to face some colder temperatures Thursday, today is a harbinger of things to come. Eight days ago when I visited the vernal pools they were frozen solid and the ground was completely snow covered. Yesterday I checked the vernal pools and the snow was almost entirely gone. The larger vernal pool was 1/3 open water and the smaller vernal pool had a narrow open water fringe (see photos below). I turned over a bunch of logs but found nothing, not even a Red-backed salamander. Still, there were no frost crystals and the leaf duff was nice and moist and not frozen.

Despite the ridiculously cold and snowy winter we've had, the weather is shaping up to be very interesting for tomorrow. Today may have record-breaking temperatures and tomorrow is also going to be moderate during the day, although the temperature will be falling steadily from the afternoon into the evening. Tomorrow also looks pretty wet with mid-afternoon rain, possibly a good soaker, through early evening. NOAA has indicated that the rain may transition to sleet or snow but that won't likely happen until well after dark if there is still moisture left in the storm system.


So, what does this all mean regarding the potential for some salamander migration tomorrow? Well, this is the fun and the stress of trying to predict what nature will do! But, I would say that despite the really cold weather we've had, we should definitely keep an eye on tomorrow over the next few weather model forecast runs. We want to watch the timing of the rain and the temperature profiles toward dark. At this point I would say there is a better than even chance we should close the road even if it turns out only to be for safety sake (the salamanders of course). 

 

NEVER (AND WE MEAN NEVER) WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED!!!

If the road is closed and you come out at night, please be aware that Church Lane is very dark and cars move at fast speeds. Use extreme caution when parking or crossing the road and especially be watchful of your children. NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

If you come to the road, EVERYONE MUST have their own flashlight. It will help see things in the dark, make the night much more fun and prevent accidentally stepping on a salamander or spring peeper.


Salamander Migration Update #2

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 4, 2014 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Once again we are thrust into a deep freeze with temperatures that are well-below normal and highly unusual for this time of the year. But Daylight Savings time is this weekend and with it a forecast for moderating temperatures to slightly below or near normal for the first time in weeks. Hopefully this will spell the end of the seemingly never-ending cold we've had this winter and we can finally get on to spring time fun - like salamanders and spring peepers! It doesn't take much to make things happen this time of the year and despite the cold, the salamander migration can't be too far off. Just a few days of warmer weather coupled with rain and the salamanders will have the triggers they need to head to the vernal pools to breed.


Spotted salamanders typically migrate when there is a sustained period of at least a few days of temperatures near 50  along with some rain and high humidity. There is also a need for open water at the vernal pools so that the migrating salamanders can slip into the pool. On Sunday I visited the pools and they were frozen end to end. According to WeatherUnderground the long-range forecast for the next 10 days doesn't seem to feature many days with temperatures near 50, in fact only one day will be in the high 40's. Most days have very cold nights and daytime highs in the upper 30's or low 40's. It is a long way off but believe it or not, there is even a forecast for a rather sizeable accumulating snow for Tuesday/Wednesday.  For anyone interested in seeing what is going on at other vernal pools in the east check out Amphibian Tracker where people post what they are seeing - https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=214851865952293876825.0004eefde6632301e7528&dg=feature ;              


Last year at this time we had already closed the road a few times and were waiting for the "big night". If you have never been to our Beekman Road closings or seen a spotted salamander migrate, make this the year! To give you a sense of what it is all about check out the Salamander Migration Updates from last year @ http://www.friendsebec.com/apps/blog/categories/show/968662-salamander-migration. Last year I was also very lucky to have my daughter Hannah home from college. Hannah has been visiting and entering the vernal pools since we started this project 11 years ago and shared her thoughts on the migration. It is worth a read and is guaranteed to bring you out to the road this spring - http://www.friendsebec.com/apps/blog/show/24838765-salamander-thoughts-by-hannah-moskowitz ;


Stay tuned, so much more to come! Here are a few photos from the vernal pools on Sunday.

   


Salamander Migration Update #1

Posted by Friends EB EC on February 28, 2014 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since the last salamander migration! This will be the 11th year we have been protecting the spotted salamanders and frogs along Beekman Road during their spring migrations to the vernal pools to breed. We are deeply thankful for the unerring support of the Mayor, Town Council, Police and Public Works for their help protecting the only remaining population of spotted salamanders in town.

Despite the Polar Vortex, continual snow cover since early January, abnormally cold temperatures and yet another snowstorm on its way, there are many signs of spring poking through outside. I recently saw two male Red-winged blackbirds on territory, maple tree buds are swelling, the sun angle and strength is increasing and the days are noticeably longer. As the proverb says "March may come in like a lion, but rest assured it will go out like a lamb". And somewhere in that time frame we will all be treated to another awe-inspiring salamander migration on some raw rainy night when spring peepers are popping along the road like popcorn.

As we've done for many years, we will be trying to predict the migration as best as possible so we can close the road. The migration is a complex mix of factors related to air and soil temperature, rainfall, seasonality and soil moisture. We do our best to understand these various factors and couple that with what we and other field biologists are seeing in vernal pools around the rest of the state. Admittedly, predicting the migration is a little bit of guesswork coupled with science - both fun and stressful. We will be writing these updates with our thoughts so everyone can see what factors we are considering.      

Stay tuned, much more to come!          

     

Lawrence Brook students will study salamander migration

Posted by Friends EB EC on February 5, 2014 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A big thank you to the East Brunswick Education Foundation for granting
Lawrence Brook School the chance to pilot a research unit on the annual
salamander migration across Beekman Road to the vernal ponds.  The teachers
and students are very excited to collect data using the Logitech Ultrathin
Keyboard covers along with their iPads. This opportunity will give students
the ability to conduct their own research as well as letting them discover
the importance of vernal ponds in their own community.


From LBS teacher and Friends EBEC board member Aimee Hagan.


More about salamander migration in East Brunswick - click here





Salamander Migration Update - #18

Posted by Friends EB EC on April 1, 2013 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

   

Councilman Jim Wendell found a large female as she came out to the road on her way to the pools. His son Matthew found many spring peeper and carfuly removed them from the road.

The rain that started late in the afternoon brought a few salamaders and people to Beekman Road yesterday.  Over the three hours we walked along the road we saw six large spotted salamander females crossing the road and heading into the woods toward the vernal pools. Near the pool the spring peepers and chorus frogs were so loud it was hard to have a conversation.

Many people joined us with falshlights and umbrellas to search for amphibian. Councilman Jim Wendell, his wife Barbara and their two sons told us they were excited to finally see the famous East Brunswick salamanders!  People came East and South Brunswick, and even from Plainsboro and Marlboro. Lisa and Rob saw the Facebook update from the Road and decided to come see for themselves. After walking for a while we found another female for them to see.

We have not seen any egg masses in the pools yet, and we simply can't tell if the migration is over. We do not speak Salamander and cannot ask them...  The road will be closed for one or two more nights.  As always - inforamtion will be posted here and an email will be sent to all Friends members (membership is always Free).

To learn more about New Jersey amphibians and to hear their calls - check out the NJDEP webpage.

Safety Comes First (for us and the amphibians): NEVER venture onto the road if it is not closed! Always park along and cross Church Lane very carefully. It is dark and cars drive fast and don't expect people out there at night. EVERYONE should have their OWN flashlight. Walk carefully and watch for amphibians. A car or foot on one and the results are largely the same.   

 



Salamander Migration Update - #17

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 31, 2013 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Beekman Road is likely to be closed tonight with the warm rain expected for this afternoon and evening. We are monitoring the weather closely. While we suspect that the salamander migration to the pools is complete, it is possible there could be some stragglers, or some non-breeding wanderers (not every individual in the population breeds every year) or even some movement back across the road to the summering habitat. But there may also be frog movement to the pools and in the surrounding woodland habitat as many frog species breed later than the spotted salamanders (our vernal pools have green frogs, bullfrogs, northern gray treefrogs, spring peepers, chorus frogs and pickerel frogs). Rainy spring nights are often fun amphibian nights.


Safety Comes First (for us and the amphibians): NEVER venture onto the road if it is not closed! Always park along and cross Church Lane very carefully. It is dark and cars drive fast and don't expect people out there at night. EVERYONE should have their OWN flashlight. Walk carefully and watch for amphibians. A car or foot on one and the results are largely the same.    

Guest post & Video: Saving Amphibians on the Open Road By Kelly Rypkema

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 19, 2013 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I remember the first time I saw a tadpole in mid-metamorphosis. It still had that small fishy mouth, and swimming tail…and then these strange little legs sticking out. I had studied all that in books, but to see it happening right in front of me was simply mesmerizing. How amazing that a living thing can so completely change its body! We can’t do that!

Since then, I’ve compiled a bucket list of nature experiences that I want to have. I want to see a Peregrine Falcon knock a bird out of the sky. I want to see the Northern Lights. The list goes on. And ever since I first heard about it in college, I’ve wanted to experience an amphibian migration, the kind where thousands of frogs, toads, and salamanders come out at night to travel to their annual meeting at the local breeding pool.

And I wanted to be one of those people who get to carry those amphibians across roads that intersect their path. Well I finally got to check that one off the bucket list thanks to the Amphibian Crossing Project, a program coordinated by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ.

Video - Click here or on the picture to see what my experience was like.


The crossing site where I was stationed occurs on a heavily trafficked road in Sussex County, New Jersey. And the only way that anyone knows about it is because of the discerning eyes of volunteers - thank Goodness for volunteers! - who noticed a huge number of frogs and salamanders moving en masse across the busy road. It turns out that the area also supports a large population of Jefferson salamanders, a species of special concern in New Jersey. 

 

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this site will ever be closed to traffic, but the Conserve Wildlife Foundation is studying it as a possible location for an amphibian culvert system. Special tunnels that allow amphibians to migrate under roadways have been used to good effect in other states like Massachusetts. This would be the first site in New Jersey to use them.

To support such a measure, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation and their partners need to find out as much as possible about the site and the amphibians that live there, so our efforts involve much more than simply ferrying critters across! Decked out in our finest rain gear, thermals, and reflective vests, we mark down how many amphibians we cross – including how many we can’t save, unfortunately – what kinds of amphibians we cross, and how many cars pass through.


My first night as an amphibian crossing guard was a bit unusual. The weather forecast was changing constantly, and when I arrived, there was no rain – or amphibians – to be seen! Still, our small team took up position along the road’s edge, ready for any frogs and salamanders that might step out from the shadowy forest. And they did…in fits and starts, just like the rain. In the end, the team recorded information on more than 1300 frogs, toads, and salamanders that made an appearance that year.

It was admittedly a roller coaster of an experience for me, from my anguish over those I couldn’t reach in time, to my satisfaction from releasing a wriggling salamander safely on the other side of the road. At the end of the long night, I had the distinct pleasure of feeling like I had made a tangible difference. Wow, what must my bucket list have in store for me next? I can’t wait!

----------------------------------------------

Kelly’s experiences as an amphibian crossing guard are captured in “Amphibian Crossing,” a special episode of Nature in a New York Minute. Watch the episode at www.NatureMinute.com.Kelly Rypkema is a biologist and host of the video series Nature in a New York Minute. From communicating with ants to interpreting the secret life of squirrels, Kelly showcases ways to be actively involved with nature – even in the concrete jungle. For nature news and events, follow Kelly on Facebook (Nature Minute)  or Twitter (@KellyRypkema), or subscribe to her blog.

 

 

Salamander Migration Update #16 - WOW!

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 13, 2013 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (1)

It's hard to find a better word for last night than, WOW! Everything came together perfectly, weather, salamanders, frogs and people for a spectacular night on Beekman Road. During the day, above normal temperatures combined with heavy rain setting the stage for what we hoped would be a big night. And for anyone that came out, it would have been very hard to be disappointed. We were a little concerned around 5pm when the rain tapered off and the skies began to clear, but when the first spotted salamander appeared around 7pm, there was hope. Loud choruses of spring peepers carried to the road from the vernal pools but it took another half hour or so for the second spotted salamander to appear. As more and more people began to filter onto the road, so did the spotted salamanders and spring peepers and from there on it was a steady movement of both. Gauging by the vast number of smiles, crouched circles of people and numerous camera flashes, it seems like everyone had a chance to see at least a few spotted salamanders and spring peepers crossing Beekman Road. Most people I spoke with said they saw lots of salamanders and two posted reports from last night both noted seeing 20+. It is hard to estimate how many salamanders may have made their way to the vernal pools last night but it must be in the hundreds, maybe much more when the entire landscape around the pools is figured in. We also tried to estimate the number of people that came out to see the migration and that was easily over 100 too. So all in all, an absolutely amazing and spectacular night. It tooks a few false starts and some patience, but it was worth it!

 

Huge kudos are due the salamanders and frogs that made the night perfect for everyone, all the people that came out to walk the road, and the Township Administration, Public Works and Police Department for insuring that our last remaining population of spotted salamanders can safely cross Beekman Road year after year.

 

So, what's next? Since this is only the first night we had significant movement, and spotted salamander migrations often happen in pulses with one big night and then some smaller ones, we will likely close the road a few more times this spring. We are also going to try and merge one of the road closings with a hike to the vernal pools. If you have only been to the road, but have never ventured through the woods and been up close to the spring peeper choruses, you will be in for quite a treat. It's hard to believe how those tiny frogs can make so much noise!

 

Stay tuned, there is much more to come...at the vernal pools, Moth Nights, Farmers Markets, Nature Author talk, Butterfly Park....

Salamander Migration Update - #14

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 11, 2013 at 6:15 AM Comments comments (1)

We expect that Beekman Road will be closed tomorrow night. Forecasts have coalesced around an area of heavy rain and above normal temperatures beginning in the early morning hours Tuesday (around 4am right now) and continuing all day until dark. This is exactly the kind of weather we look for to trigger the migration. We can't guarantee anything, but the warm temperatures over the weekend and again today coupled with significant rain tomorrow sure look good. Since weather forecasts are simply predictions based on models, we will post another update tomorrow. 


If we close the road and you come out a few very important reminders: 


Use extreme caution crossing Church Lane.    

Dress for wet, raw weather.

Each person should have a flashlight with a good strong light.

Walk carefully and be on the lookout for tiny spring peepers and of course salamanders.

Let others know what you find so they can share in the fun.   

Salamanders in the news!

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 10, 2013 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)


The recent road closing attracted lots of attention from the news media.  Although the salamanders did not move on the nights the road was closed, the story of the East Brunswick Amphibian Protection Project was featured in news articles and videos. To see some of the articles and videos aobut the project since it started in 2005 - Click here.

To get email with informatoin on road closing and other Friends projects - join the Friends, it's easy, free and your information will never be shared.  Click here!



Salamander Migration Update - #13

Posted by Friends EB EC on March 10, 2013 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

We've had a few false starts over the past two weeks with the weather not panning out as forecast, but our eyes are on Tuesday night right now. If the forecast holds and I was a betting man (I'm not), I'd double down on Tuesday night for the salamander migration to occur. Of course, the odds are always in favor of the House and even sure hands sometimes lose, but the forecast between now and then really looks good to trigger movement. Yesterday was beautiful and warm. All the snow melted and saturated the ground. Today and tomorrow are forecast to be above-normal and nightime lows for Monday night are expected to remain above freezing. Sometime very late Monday night after midnight, rain is forecast to begin and continue through late afternoon on Tuesday. The rain may be heavy at times with totals now predicted between 1/2" and 3/4". That would be a good soaking rain. Temperatures on Tuesday are forecast to be in the low to mid-50's. All of these factors are what we want to see to trigger the salamanders to migrate. Of course as we've seen, forecasts can fizzle and leave us walking an empty road, but from the vantage point of Sunday morning, I'm thinking this would be a good bet to place. Stay tuned...      


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