Salamander Migration 2009
Wednesday night was about the Salamanders with the blue-black body and distinct overlaid rows of yellow spots along its sides, back and tail. Its scientific name is Ambystoma maculatum and since “maculatum” means spotted . . . . . we call these guys the “Spotted Salamander”. But predicting the movement from their wintering holes to their breeding pools can be sometimes is a little tricky.
During Spring Equinox we look for the temperatures to reach above 50’s°F for multiple days and when we receive that warm rain during the evening is when I start looking for the migration of the Spotted Salamander. Of course last Wednesday was the very first movement of these Salamanders and males are known to arrive to the breeding pools a week before the females do . . . . so everyone in my area still has an opportunity to whiteness this amazing event at some vernal pools near your home.
I started searching around 8pm and sadly needed to make my phone calls to Young Naturalist C and Young Naturalist E that only one Red-spotted Newt (CHECK – First for 2009) was observed moving across the road and one Spring Peeper (CHECK – First for 2009) was “peeping” in the pool! My first predictions are not always accurate but something encouraged me to try again later in the evening once the rain started coming down harder.
Patty and I adventured out to Allegany State Park around 10:30pm and finally found our first maculatum crossing the road (CHECK – First for 2009). It was hard to capture any photos because these “guys” were on the move and would not stop moving! We estimated generously that we observed about 100 Spotted Salamanders who were returning to their vernal pools.
We were also delighted with finding about 25 Wood Frogs (CHECK – First for 2009) and 35 Spring Peepers who were also making their movements to the breeding pools. It appeared that most of the Wood Frogs were males but we did successfully find at least one female in the bunch. As the evening continued the Spring Peepers were finally starting to vocalize their famous “Peeping” call! That’s when you realize that spring is finally here . . . . Cheers!!
Of course I told Patty that you can “always guarantee an adventure with me and those spontaneous finds are what always make the nights best memories. While slowly driving around Frogs and Salamanders we happen to notice this bird butt in the middle of the road! While throwing the car into park, we ask “what could this birdie be”??? I jumped out of the car and approached just before this American Woodcock (CHECK – First for 2009) decided to burst into flight scaring the padoozas out of me. We believe it was feeding on helpless worms that were stuck on top of the road. Luckily the birdie only flew to the side of the road before resting in some shrubs. . . . .
. . . . being a licensed bird banding I took this opportunity to approach the bird again but this time prepared with a camera in hand. I captured a few photos and then reached right down and just picked this Timberdoodle up. Ok, Patty might laugh and tell a different story, like while I was trying to grab it the Woodcock started fluttering around and ran into me a few times!! . . . . but I am sticking to my story!
What a night everyone . . .
What a night!
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