For those who have heard me talk about “Big Night” – Thursday night (March 19) is likely to be one. The temperatures will be perfect (around 50 degrees) and it’s supposed to rain.
“Big Nights” are the very special rainy nights in spring when amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders) by the hundreds and thousands across our county migrate from the upland forests where they spend the majority of their lives to the wetlands (vernal pools, flooded fields, ponds, swamps) where they breed.
Different species make these migrations at different times during the spring and summer. Our Wood Frogs and Jefferson salamanders had a “Big Night” on Monday night when we had that slow but drenching rain. Tonight, on my way home from work, I saw numerous American Toads crossing the roads through Waterford and Spring Peepers are heading to their breeding pools too. This Thursday, I expect we will see a huge number of American Toads and Spring Peepers headed to pools as well as Wood Frogs and various salamanders leaving the pools.
Amphibians need the rains to migrate so that their skin doesn’t dry out and similarly that’s also why night time is their choice time of the day for movement. If you have any interest in Amphibians, I urge you to go out in the rain on Thursday night near areas where you hear the spring peepers. Identify forest areas vs. wetland areas and see if you can find these migration corridors. Often, the migration corridors are transected by roads and the frogs, toads and salamanders risk their lives to cross them – and they have to do so twice a year…once to get to their breeding ponds and once to return to their forest homes.
While you’re driving, listen with the windows cracked a bit for the call of the spring peepers, but also watch the roads. What you think are leaves rustling or laying on the pavement could very likely be a frog or toad trying to cross.
If you see a place where road crossing migrations are happening please identify it by the cross streets and let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). If the road is not busy and you can safely pull over, you can also help these little friends cross – just pick them up and carry them across the road to safety. You can learn more about our Loudoun Amphibian Monitoring Program and the Migration Mapping/Road Crossing Assists on our website.
Our LAMP Kickoff for this Saturday is currently full but if there is enough interest, I will plan a second session. Just send me an email and let me know that you’d be interested in participating in the second session.
Hope you all enjoy the Big Night and Loudoun’s wild nature!