Saturday, March 29, 2014

Frog Crossing

Last night we had the first real rainstorm of the Spring season.  

That means that under the drifts of leaves and the remaining drifts of snow the frogs and salamanders were waking up from their winter's sleep and heading to the nearest water.  Driving the back roads on rainy nights in early Spring is the best way to see them.
A wood frogsicle

Wood frogs in particular respond to that first rain.  Wood frogs spend the winter frozen solid.  Really.

When the warmish rains of early spring soak into the leaves where the frogs are buried, they thaw out, start breathing again, and make their way to ponds to breed.

A wood frog with his black mask
Wood frogs are easy to recognize by their masks.  Their call is also distinctive.  No 'jug-o-rum' for these guys.  A pond with a few wood frogs sounds like a flock of ducks all quacking at once.  A pond with a lot of wood frogs sounds like heavy machinery clanking through the woods.

On this morning's walk I went by the old mill raceway.  The streams were full of snowmelt and were thundering down the gorge.  The air was full of bird song as pairs of crows and robins and chickadees flew by.  It seemed like every male bird in town was screaming the bird equivalent of 'hey, bay-bee!'
Wood frog eggs from my frog pond
last year.  Soon they will be there again.

The raceway was full of water.  There were lots of ripples as the wood frogs moved about.  Soon there will be masses of eggs.

Most of the eggs will never become frogs.  Ducks will fly in and eat some of them.  Then the raceway, which is no longer connected to the brook, will dry up.  Only a few will survive to return to the raceway next year.

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