My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

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.

Spotted Salamander
Smiling Spotted Salamander

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.

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander quickly moving across the road!

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.

Red-spotted Newt
Red-spotted Newt

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.

Wood Frog
Wood Frog

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!!

Spring Peeper
Spring Peeper

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. . . . .

American Woodcock
American Woodcock . . . . aka Timberdoodle

. . . . 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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16 responses

  1. dailymonk

    Tom – these are amazing!

    21 March 2009 at 2:20 pm

  2. What a wonderful experience and photos! Thanks for sharing them. I know amphibians are having a difficult time – are any of these species endangered?

    21 March 2009 at 4:15 pm

  3. Lisa at Greenbow

    What a night indeed. We just saw our first Timberdoodle a few nights ago. They are such fun to watch. I still haven’t seen a salamander though. WHINE…

    21 March 2009 at 4:15 pm

  4. Linda O'Brien

    Boy, oh boy! You sure know how to show a girl a good time!!!

    21 March 2009 at 5:45 pm

  5. Pam

    What a great night!!!! Wow!

    21 March 2009 at 5:58 pm

  6. Wow, so many new species! You have an excellent blog. I heard a American Woodcock a few days (Check for 2009.)

    21 March 2009 at 6:13 pm

  7. Sarah

    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The Wookcock looks like it’s beak is on backwards, we decided that that is why it ran into you! 🙂

    21 March 2009 at 7:56 pm

  8. How much fun!! I’d like to hear Patty’s version. Mostly, did you scream when the Woodcock burst into flight?

    21 March 2009 at 8:39 pm

  9. Congrats on the harbingers of Spring!
    My ex used to hunt woodcock (which seemed kind of pointless to me–why kill an animal for a McNugget’s worth of food? Fortunately I convinced him to get into breeding game birds, instead. 😉

    21 March 2009 at 10:28 pm

  10. Salamanders are having a difficult time in Virginia because of the drought last year. I will happy to see them this year (did see one cross the road the other night).

    23 March 2009 at 9:25 am

  11. Patty

    I’t was an awesome night!

    23 March 2009 at 2:22 pm

  12. Wow, you guys had a really fun night! I love the first pic of the smiling salamander.

    23 March 2009 at 4:56 pm

  13. Reading this post and enjoying the beautiful photos brought back many memories of the years I lived in Maryland and did salamander surveys in the spring and fall. I’ll never forget the excitement finding hundreds of Spotted “Sallies” in the traps and the occasional Red-spotted Newt, a variety of frogs and the occasional snake. Thank you!

    23 March 2009 at 7:42 pm

  14. What an outing. I need to find someone as crazy as you to go exploring with me on a dark rainy night. I wouldn’t even know where to start looking.

    24 March 2009 at 7:46 am

  15. Salamanders, frogs & woodcock – a fine night indeed! That first salamander photo is too cute!

    28 March 2009 at 10:59 am

  16. Wonderful images. Here I am discovering this post two years later.

    “A Passion for Nature” linked to your post because of the Woodcock … Can’t believe you are able to catch the bird so easily.

    Glad to have discovered your Blog. I’ll be back.

    Sybil
    Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia

    4 April 2011 at 8:40 am

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