Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally
ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer -
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff
Thursday 05/01/2008 May Day 08, Of salamanders, frogs and a bucket of wood frog tadpoles.
Lots has happened over the last week. Sure enough I was right that the spotted salamanders moved in the rain Monday night. Juts so happens they were moving the WRONG way. So that makes me wrong. My friend Rick joined me for the annual spotted salamander census has he has for most recent years. Oh we found plenty of spotted salamanders in our creeping cruise from my house that started just after dark, around 8:30 Monday night. Strangely we didn't encounter any salamanders on the half mile stretch from my house to New Rye Road at the four corners. It was along this stretch that Rick and his daughter Kasey found a single salamander when they tried the run on Friday April 11th when we still had one to two feet of snow in the woods. And since there we have had only one slight overnight rain shower. We had a couple of claps of thunder one night and I sat up in bed that night and listened for it to rain and if it did I would have got up and do the census. But I could hear no steady rain falling and the roads were pretty much dry when I looked out early the next morning.
So from my perspective there just has been NO overnight rain to allow the salamanders to make that mad dash to the vernal pools. But I was dead wrong. Of the 12 salamanders in the three mile trek up New Rye Hill and out Swamp Road ( I love that name) to Mountain View Road where I turn around all the while removing all salamanders from the road and tossing them in the direction they are traveling, ten were headed away from the pools and back into the forests. They had already spawned! This is the second year in a row that the salamanders have eluded me in numbers when they have migrated TO the vernal pools. So how when the ground was pretty much covered with snow and with little overnight rain, they managed to migrate to the pools to spawn. Wildlife is still so mysterious to me. There is always so much to learn about wildlife.
We had only two cars come out Swamp Road in the hour it took to make the run. That one car killed two salamanders. In fact Rick was just picking up a live salamander when she approached and she stopped to ask what was going on. He told her to watch out for them. She had already hit one and we soon found out she hit another just up the road after she left us.
We got back to my house at about 9:30 and decided to try the run a second time just for larks. I had never done this before, but the rain was steady. We counted 9 on the second run. All headed back into the forests. There were numbers of peepers, a few toads and green frogs and one lone bull frog crossing during our two runs. It was only 43 degrees F at my house and no doubt cooler up the hill from here as it always is. So frog numbers seemed to be down from past years because of the temperature I think.
The rain continued all Monday night and on into Tuesday. The Suncook River is once again at low flood stage. Just over the banking and partially flooding the corn field down back. My rain gauge says we only got an inch of rain. Boy did we dodge a bullet. If we had even this much rain a couple weeks ago when the woods and mountains around here were still covered with that heavy wet snow, we would have had quite a flood. But we had temperature into the 80's a couple days last week that simply got rid of the snow in short order. And by the way bloomed the red maples and has brought out woodchuck ears sized leaves on my lilacs. Spring progressed at a phenomenal rate last week in the summer like temperatures, but has slowed back down this week with the two days of rain and the cool cloudy days barely into the 50's.
I was able to watch my, almost two year old, granddaughter Erin all day yesterday. Her sister Katie headed off to school at 8 with her mother leaving Erin and me to play for the day. We got right outside in the sun despite the rather cool morning. How busy she is constantly examining how the wet sand from the sand box poured from her spoon to slipping on the wet slide as she tried to climb it. She is so full of questions and life. She trickles all around like a babbling brook flowing this way and that challenging her boundaries constantly. How I enjoy hearing her babble and watch the flow of her motion. She even cups her ears to hear the peepers in the vernal pool just off her back yard. Frogs I can no longer hear at that distance. By quarter to eleven her coil had wound down. We headed inside and soon she was asleep on my lap in the recliner for over two hours. I'm actually not sure who needed the rest more her or me. I picked her sister up from school about three and we headed out back to the vernal pool. The edges were rimmed with wood frog eggs in places. I scooped in a bucket to pull out some eggs and found the bucket full of just hatched wood frog tadpoles. It was only April 12th that the wood frogs first started calling from this pond. How the girls marveled at the bucket of life in our possession. Katie couldn't help but dip her fingers in to feel the frog eggs oozing between her fingers. So I got them ready for her to take to school this morning with them to be released back into the pond by this afternoon. Life is so bountiful this time of year. By the bucket if you even bother to look.
2008-04-22 Winter to summer in a week; Beer drinkers are good conservationists.
2008-05-08 Toads trilling, peepers still peeping, marsh marigold in bloom and the Suncook River has completed its second avulsion. Oh yes, and my peas are in.
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