Salamander Blog & Updates

Salamander migration 2016, update #9

Beekman Road will be closed, starting at 8:30pm, today to ensure safe crossing of any amphibian that will be migrating to the pools.

The forecast is for "Scattered showers, mainly between 10pm and 5am. Cloudy, with a low around 55. Southwest wind 6 to 10 mph becoming north after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible."

Since the rain is forecasted to start after 10pm we do not expect any amphibian movement before the late hours of the night.

 

IMPORTANT REMINDERS ABOUT SAFETY

NEVER WALK BEEKMAN ROAD AT NIGHT IF THE ROAD IS NOT CLOSED - IT IS NOT SAFE!!!

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. 

If you come to the road, EVERYONE (Children included) MUST have their OWN flashlight

 Do not touch salamanders or frogs! 

Our hands have natural oils and chemicals from soap and other things we've touched  that can harm amphibian sensitive skin. 

Amphibians are also very slippery and can be easily hurt if dropped. It's is best to just watch them cross and enjoy the way they move.

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Salamander migration 2016, update #8

We haven't forgotten about the migration… We've been watching the weather and haven't seen a night that warranted closing Beekman Road. Last night we thought about it, but the rain came in so late that we figured the traffic would be so light at that time of night that it didn't warrant a closing. The forecast is dry for an extended period, so we don't see anything imminent at this point. Of course the weather forecasts change all the time so if anything looks promising we will let you know...

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

 

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Salamander migration 2016, update #7

After two false starts, last night the migration finally started! We had quite a few families and kids come out and hopefully everyone got to see a Spotted salamander and some frogs safely crossing Beekman. This was a small migration night comprised only of early male Spotted salamanders, Wood frogs and Spring peepers (they head to the vernal pools first) which is typical of the first rains with temps above 45 or so. More males and females and other species will break hibernation and head to the vernal pools on subsequent warm(ish) rainfall nights. It looks like a dry stretch for a while which is good because we really need to get some sleep. We will keep everyone apprised as the weather forecast develops. We'd also like to give a huge shout out to our amazing Administration and Police Department for their incredible support of our efforts!

For anyone interested, here is a little information about the migration and our efforts: We've been closing Beekman Road for 13 years to protect migrating Spotted salamanders and frogs as they head to the vernal pools to breed. Before we began this program it was wholesale slaughter as they tried to cross the road. This is the last population of Spotted's in town and they've become local celebrities. Our efforts have significantly increased the population of Spotted salamanders and we see more and more each year. With the incredibly warm temps and the heavy rain, last night was the first night of the migration. It often comes in waves with small movements on the first warmish rain and bigger ones on the next few rainy nights. We invite the public out to watch the migration. Our work has also allowed Wood frogs to recolonize our pools after being extirpated by cars. For the first 10 years we didn't see any but we started seeing a few 3 years ago and now we have a nice breeding population again! We have also had amazing media coverage from the NY Times, CBS 880 radio and so many more. Hopefully this coverage has raised awareness about the plight of migrating amphibians and the importance of protecting vernal pools.

 

Spotted salamander crossing Beekman Road on the his way to the vernal pool, 24 February, 2016

 

A wood frog enjoying a swim in the vernal pool, 24 February, 2016

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Salamander migration 2016, update #6

Beekman Road will be closed tonight. Rain is expected to continue all day and throughout the night. Temperatures at noon are in the mid-40's and are continuing to rise. A forecasted shift in the wind to the southwest is predicted to lift them into the mid to upper 50's by dark. In past years these conditions have corresponded with salamander and frogs leaving hibernation and moving to the vernal pools. The rollercoaster weather this year has made predicting the migration more uncertain than in some previous years but we think conditions look pretty good for tonight. Of course, someone should definitely tell the spotted salamanders and frogs so we aren't alone out on Beekman tonight. Please be sure to read our safety warnings and the requirements for observing the migration. We are deeply concerned about human and amphibian safety. 

If you are planning on coming to Beekman Road tonight we are urging everyone to keep an eye on the weather. We just checked the weather maps and there is a chance of strong storms with damaging winds and lightning associated with a front. If these conditions are imminent, please leave the road. Don't venture out onto the road either if there is severe weather. We don't want anyone hurt by falling tree limbs or other weather-related conditions.

 

 

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Salamander Migration 2016, Update #5

The forecast today is complicated by a number of factors. Rain is going to overspread our area by the afternoon and continue all night. Temperatures today will be right around the minimum threshold for amphibian migration (around 40-41 degrees) but they are also forecast to rise throughout the night. Given this combination of rain and temps, it is likely a good idea to close the road tonight. If the temps are a bit lower than forecast, there might not be any movement but if they are a degree or few higher, early males might move. We've seen it both ways over the past decade. We will continue monitoring the weather forecast and will post another update to let you know if the road will be closed today.

As for tomorrow - that will be a no-brainer. Temps are going to be around 50 and there will be rain all day and all night. In years past, we've seen big movements under these conditions right around this date.

The migration is typically a series of movements or waves to the pools with Spotted salamander males making the trek first and females and juveniles moving on subsequent rainfall events. Predicting what will happen is very stressful but also quite rewarding when we get it right and know that we are protecting the last remaining population of Spotted salamanders and Wood frogs in all of East Brunswick (and that the Spotteds can live upwards of 30 years!).

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

 

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