Yikes, what happened with the weather yesterday? All day, every single weather outlet was calling for strong to severe storms in the late afternoon and evening coming on the heels of an incredibly warm day with temperatures near 70. But by late afternoon it was pretty evident that the rain wasn't going to happen as the storms moving across Pennsylvania fell apart before reaching New Jersey. With the weather forecast we had decided to close the road early in the day, expecting the weather to be perfect to trigger amphibian movement. But Mother Nature didn't seem to get the message and the road and surrounding woods were dry and largely devoid of amphibians, besides a few wandering frogs. Nonetheless, a trip to the vernal pools last night was fantastic! Our Amphibian Protection Plan is working better than we could have ever imagined as evidenced by the huge numbers of Spotted Salamanders, Eastern Newts and Wood Frogs in both pools. In fact, we saw many more of these three species than we have ever seen before!!! The pools were literally teeming with salamanders and newts skirting and slithering in the water, in and out of the leaves on the bottom and Wood Frogs were floating in their classic sprawled posture and chorusing in both pools along with plenty of Spring Peepers to add to the amphibian orchestra. There were also already a few Spotted Salamander eggs masses and spermatophore fields, so in this crazy early "spring" things have obviously happened fast. If you visit the pools, please don't venture into them. Just bring a strong flashlight and look in from the edge where you'll be able to see anything moving around and hear the wonderful frog songs. With all the ongoing mating and egg laying, walking through the pools can be disruptive of breeding and also directly impact the egg masses. During the day, the pools are also worth visiting, especially on a warm day with or without rain, as the male Spring Peepers and Chorus frogs will likely be singing their little hearts out hoping to find some love!
Here are a few photos from yesterday of the larger vernal pool (which is actually quite dry from the ongoing drought), a floating Wood Frog and a Spotted Salamander under the water. Stay tuned, there is certainly more to come after this brief cold spell this weekend.