Monday, February 18, 2008

Migration of the Frogs

Here comes spring! The annual amphibian migration to their breeding pools has commenced. Woodfrogs and Spotted Salamanders are the easiest to spot. They often migrate en mass on the first few warm rainy nights of the season, and can be found crossing roads near special vernal pools.

I spotted this cute little woodfrog on the upper end of Wesley Drive and Scotch Pine in Huntington Woods, a location where I've previously seen dozens of frogs and salamanders on the pavement at once. Woodfrogs do not live in water - they live in the forest, and only return to water to breed. They will only breed in "vernal pools" - tiny ponds that have no fish and which tend to dry up in the summer. There is a substantial vernal pool on the west side of Wesley Drive, fortunately saved from development and now classified as open space.

One spot on Buddington Road, east of Grace Lane, has a MAJOR amphibian crossing. When conditions are right, literally hundreds of frogs and salamanders will be hopping and waddling across the street. The cars zoom by, crunching large numbers of them. The next day, the birds have a feast.
Woodfrog breeding ponds can be located in the spring by the sound of quacking where there should be no ducks, like in some thick but wet brush. The sound will stop as soon as you approach. That is the mating song of the woodfrog.

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