We spent the day at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, which is great any time of year but especially fanstastic for amphibians this time of year.
First we had our indoor talk about the Amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders and newts) of Loudoun and their habitats. We enjoyed looking at an adult male Jefferson Salamander, an adult gravid female Spotted Salamander, and 4 Red-spotted newts (at least one was a female).
Then we went out into the field and checked the vernal pools and permanent ponds for activity.
Wood frogs were calling along the mill race along the stream and Spring Peepers were in full chorus in the flooded field. We saw the Skunk cabbage in bloom and tiny buds on spicebush starting the show.
In the pools, there were a good number of wood frog egg masses although not quite as many as i past years. In one location though, there were over 100 egg masses, indicating that at least 800 wood frogs had been present!
We saw a couple of Spotted Salamander egg masses and a decent (although not high) number of Jefferson egg masses. Don’t despair though…….I think the ladies are still needing to migrate to the pools or perhaps just arrived, because we saw a lot of spermatophore. I think in an other week or so we’ll see lots of salamander egg masses.
The pools were all full, the flooded field was nicely flooded. So, that big rain we had last wednesday was a great start to the amphibian season. I hope the pools stay wet through the next few months so the frog and salamander young can develop and get back to the woods.
The stream was pretty high and running fast. We managed to cross it just fine, but boots were a must.
Photos from the day are in our facebook gallery.
I had a great day! I hope everyone who came out enjoyed it too!