We are closing Beekman Road tonight. It's been a wild weather rollercoaster ride over the last 45 days! First there were the incredibly warm temperatures in February, then the late season snow storm and persistent cold most of March, and then a few days of glorious sun and warmth interspersed with raw rainy weather this week. It's played havoc with our thoughts on when amphibians might be moving. The February warmth and rains brought early season Spotted Salamander migrations and mating, capped by egg masses in the pools and the same for Wood frogs. Recent rains seem to have spurred some additional breeding at the pools with Spotted Salamander spermatophores and Wood frog choruses this week. But there is certainly still much more to come at the pools, with Spring Peepers, Chorus frogs, Gray treefrogs, Green frogs and Bullfrogs all still either just beginning to breed or with breeding seasons a bit later in the spring.
We've decided to close Beekman Road tonight even though we think that the bulk of the Spotted Salamander migration has probably already occurred. But we've had such screwy weather this year that we are going to err on the side caution to protect anything that may be moving. It's obviously going to be a very rainy day today and tonight with somewhere between one and two inches of rain forecast. Temperatures are forecast to rise into the upper 40's tonight, a little lower than we like to see for much amphibian movement but after all the snow and cold, the frogs and salamanders may just be itching to move around. Or not...
A few VERY important safety notes are in order (for us and the salamanders and frogs):
1. NEVER, and we cannot stress this enough, NEVER, walk Beekman Road when it is not closed. It is NOT safe!
2. Park carefully and always have your children hold your hand when crossing Church Lane. Cars come fast, it will be dark and possibly rainy, and we don't want anyone hurt. When parking, choose a safe location and be exceptionally careful when pulling out onto Church Lane.
3. For the salamanders, be sure that EVERYONE has a strong, bright flashlight so that the salamanders and frogs are not accidentally stepped on. Check your flashlight before leaving the house and honestly, don't come out without EVERYONE having one in their hand. Cell phone flashlights are just not strong enough to illuminate the road at night.
4. Also, please do not handle the frogs and salamanders. Simply watch them cross and enjoy their movements. Amphibians breathe through their skin and touching them can be harmful to them.
5. Please do not enter the vernal pools. There are egg masses and spermatophores that are easily disturbed by silt and will be killed by being stepped on. Just enjoy the pools from the edge.
5. Be safe and enjoy the migration!
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.
Weather conditions later today look perfect - if you are a salamander ready to wake up and head to the vernal pool. Beekman Road will be closed from dusk to dawn to ensure safe road crossing for amphibians.
Please use caution if you want to come see the salamanders! It may be good amphibian weather but dangerous for humans!
"Some storms could be severe, with damaging winds and heavy rain."
Do not walk on the road during a thunderstorm!
IMPORTANT REMINDERS ABOUT SAFETY
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.