Thursday Could Be Big!
What's The Latest?
We are not planning on closing Beekman tonight. Despite the rain, the temperatures are pretty darn cold and look to stay in the low 40's. When it is this cold, we typically don't have any movement. We closed the road on Tuesday night but not much rain materialized and it was fairly cool with temperatures hovering in the mid-40's. But it was quite foggy and very humid. Nonetheless, only a handful of Wood frogs were seen crossing the road (and none by me!). There was quite a bit happening at the pools though. Loads of male Wood frogs were just lounging around on the surface and intermittently chorusing along with a few Spring peepers. There were also a few Spotted salamander egg masses and plenty of Spotted's slithering around in the pools through the flashlight beam.
It's warm, rainy and humid. There is a break in the rain forecast for a few hours and then more rain, possibly even a bit heavy for a few hours after dark as a cold front moves through. Assuming that happens, (and maybe even if it doesn't but it stays mild and humid and damp) it could trigger amphibians to move around. PLEASE READ THE IMPORTANT MANDATORY SAFETY INFORMATION IF YOU VENTURE OUT TONIGHT.
Beekman Road will be closed again tonight. Hopefully tonight will be as exciting as last night. Damp weather continues with rain after dark, perhaps a little later than we hoped, but still an extended period from about 8 pm on. A huge thank you to the East Brunswick Police Department for their assistance! Please read the important safety information before coming out tonight.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!!
Spring has sprung! After three false starts with road closings that left us alone on the road, last night was amazing! If you've followed the Friends for a while, you know that we close a road each spring so that Spotted Salamanders, wood frogs and a suite of other amphibians can safely cross to their vernal pools. This is our 16th year and our amphibian populations are doing great now. When we started we had no wood frogs in our vernal pools and last night there must have been a hundred safely crossing the road. Our Spotted salamanders were also being decimated by cars and now they can safely cross as slowly as they want! Here are photos from last night of a very happy Spotted salamander with the road barriers in the back and a beautiful rich reddish brown wood frog. I took the Spotted salamander photo laying down so we could see eye to eye and have a nice little conversation about spring. I'm honestly not sure who was happier! I expect that Beekman Road will be closed again tonight with the rainy forecast, but stay tuned. Always read the important safety information before venturing out. Also, if anyone lost a nice blue umbrella last night I found it laying on the road and we make arrangements for its return. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beekman Road will be closed tonight and almost certainly tomorrow night as well. This pattern of a few very mild sunny February days followed by a day or two of mild rainy days has often spelled amphibian movement in the past. Of course, this winter has thrown all norms to the wind, but we are hopeful! Please review the important safety information if you are planning on coming out.
A Quick Update
Last night we took a drive along Beekman Road, mostly out of panic that we had made a poor decision not to close the road. Throughout the day we were constantly evaluating the conditions and going back and forth what to do. It's surprising that NOAA, Weather.com and Weather Underground didn't all crash yesterday with the number of times we checked the forecasts. They were probably wondering what in the heck was happening in East Brunswick to generate so many clicks on their forecast pages! Yesterday was quite rainy up until around 3 in the afternoon and then still pretty damp through the evening. But temperatures stayed a few degrees lower than forecast, topping out around 44 or maybe 45. By nightfall, they were forecast to be dropping rather quickly toward 40, with some clearing and drying out and a rising barometer. At 6:30 the full panic set in with the temperature still at 44, decent cloud cover and everything still pretty damp. Fortunately, after spending about an hour at Beekman Road, not a single amphibian was found. The adjacent woods were very quiet, although I think I heard a distant great Horned Owl hoot a few times. Phew!!!...our decision was okay. I'd guess the next warm(ish) rain we get will trigger some movement. We are watching a few potential weather events next week but at the moment there isn't anything too striking predicted.
The Last Two Nights
As Buffalo Springfield sang "There's something happening here, What it is ain't exactly clear". On Monday night, following a rainy and fairly mild day there were reports of one spotted salamander and a few wood frogs on the road but no significant movement. Last night I walked the road and didn't find any amphibians from about 6:00 to 7:30 despite a little intermittent drizzle and a temperature hovering around 48 or 49 degrees and a rather rainy day. I also turned over a bunch of logs in the forest and they were still quite dry underneath, so heavier rain might be helpful to trigger movement. So, the "big nights" are clearly still ahead of us and probably will occur on the next warmer rains. So, stay tuned...
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