We are anticipating closing Beekman Road tonight. We honestly don't have a clue what might happen and if any amphibians will be moving. Today is dreary and tonight is supposed to have heavy rain and temperatures in the mid-40's, weather that a few weeks from now would seem perfect. Tonight really seems too early and many of the markers we use to predict the migration haven't materialized yet or are just absent this winter (Spring peepers calling, a late winter thaw, a cold spell followed by warmish temperatures and heavy rain and ice melting on the vernal pools and a bunch of other somewhat amorphous factors). But this winter in central New Jersey has been anything but normal. It is by far the mildest in my memory and I simply cannot remember a winter where the ground hasn't really frozen and the vernal pools have lacked a decent ice cover. Unfortunately, we don't "speak salamander" so our road closings are our best guess at what might happen. Sometimes we are walking Beekman Road in the raw, rainy, dark with not a single amphibian, other times we are treated to a natural spectacle of migrating salamanders and frogs. But amphibians or not, it's always nice to know that we are getting closer to spring when we are out on Beekman Road thinking about vernal pools and the fantastic life they support. Below is a graph we have compiled of the early dates we have observed movement over the past 14 years.
A few VERY IMPORTANT rules! Beekman Road and Church Lane are always dark. Cars driving on them are moving fast adn don't expect anyone there. It is simply DANGEROUS and extreme caution is the rule! NEVER walk Beekman Road when it is not closed. NEVER let children cross Church Lane without holding their hand. Parking is best at the small county lot accessed from White Pine on Beekman just before the closure and on Crispin Lane off of Church. Do NOT park in front of the barriers. EVERYONE must have a flashlight. Phone flashlights are useless. Without a good strong bright flashlight there is a real risk of stepping on an amphibian, which completely defeats the point of our protection plan. PLEASE DO NOT handle the amphibians. They are slippery and easy to drop and our hands can transfer oils that are harmful to them. They know where they are going, so just enjoy them as they cross and take lots of photographs!