We had our last of three amphibian monitoring program kickoffs this past Saturday. This one was held at Algonkian Regional Park and it held some really great sightings!
To start the morning, Casey Pittrizzi, the naturalist at Algonkian Regional Park, let everyone have up close looks at a Wood Frog, Spotted Salamander, American Toad and Gray Tree Frog, that NVRPA has temporarily for education purposes. This was a great way to start off the program and start learning about our amphibians!
After our classroom session, where I basically gave everyone the run down on the different habitats amphibians use (forests and wetlands) and talked through the 25 different species we have here in Loudoun, we headed out into the field. [check out the photo album]
Our first stop was the little man-made pools at the mini-golf course. To our excitement, we spotted numerous strings of American Toad eggs.
That was special since we haven’t really heard the toads calling yet but they have obviously had an opportunity to get to the pools for breeding.
We also saw spotted salamander egg masses and hundreds of wood frog tadpoles, already hatched from their eggs. We also spotted a newt in one of the pools, possibly eating frog or toad eggs.
From there, we headed out along the trails to look at the different wetland habitats – both vernal pools and swamp areas.
Here, we found an adult American Toad, obviously very cold and still in hibernation. We also did a little dip netting and found lots of FAIRY SHRIMP! This is an obligate species for vernal pools and is only the second documented occurrence here in Loudoun.
Many thanks to all the participants for being a part of the day and to all the new volunteers for jumping in to the amphibian monitoring program this year!
Algonkian Regional Park is definitely one of our great places here in Loudoun. Casey has some fun nature hikes and other programs lined up through the spring and summer, and we look forward to partnering on more events together!