Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Seeing Spots!

OK, we got over a foot of snow last Friday. But it had been warm over the weekend, so on Sunday (March 10th), we figured we'd go look to see if any amphibians were out. We went to Hoar, a good salamander place. Word from the South was that Spotted Salamander migration should be starting up soon!

OK, I'm an idiot. It never occurred to me that when I get a foot of snow outside the house, the nearby nature places do too! Flip? I could barely find stones and logs to flip!

The ponds were icy and slushy. Things were NOT yet ready for herping.DSCN3680

I snapped a picture of this woodpecker (a Hairy Woodpecker, I believe) and got bent out of shape when I was too slow for a Tufted Titmouse. Andrea asked, "has it really come to this?"

But two days later, on Tuesday March 12th, things had warmed up considerably! The past couple of nights had been in the 40s and the evening called for a lot of rain. Locally, we herpers started thinking about "the big night"... the beginning of salamander migration!

Our friend Steve (whose website I've plugged before and continues to be my favorite place to adore New England herps) decided he would be heading out to his annual vernal pond event, in hopes of seeing some Spotted Salamanders. He generously invited us to join him!

I picked up Andrea after her yoga class and drove to the spot (in Middlesex County) through the rain. It was wet but warm when we arrived... still in the 50s. We bundled up and got on our headlamps and headed out into the dark woods.

It wasn't long before the three of us encountered a large male Spotted motoring along through the woods!
A very good start!! Already worth the trip!

I will cut to the chase and say that we saw a lot more! Pools that in the past had been full of frolicking, mating Spotteds were empty, but one area had many many males making their way to it. The water was muddy, so we couldn't see in too deeply, but it must have been teeming! They were crawling over the snow and ice to get to the water! Here are some examples of the thirty plus ambystoma maculatum that we saw...

Taking a swim...

A guy without spots on his back! Steve's favorite!
Mr. No Spots!


A favorite sight of mine... herpers herping!! Our camera had some fog on the lens while trying to photograph the trio of sallys in the shot, but I got the two herpers OK!
Herpers herpin'


This guy was Andrea's favorite... standing very tall!

One of my favorites here... look how blue!

So, we moved on and checked out another vernal pond nearby, but it was empty. Not ready to get in out of the rain yet (it was finally subsiding a bit) we headed back to the hot spot.

Just off the path we saw this guy sitting there!
Green Frog
A Green Frog, our first of the year!

Here's some more Spotteds!
(this shot almost looks like it was taken in a terrarium!)

Watch yer step!

Finally, a female lumbered on to the scene!
She was large. This guy went over to check her out (with some coaxing on our part...)
She seemed more interested than he did...

These shots show the male-ness of the males. Pretty easy ID...

We saw one on the ice of the path.
We gently moved him off as there were other folks roaming around enjoying the migration.

So, this wasn't the BIG night... that might well be tonight (the next night) or it happened later on last night. But we saw over 30 Spotted Salamanders and that's more than the past couple of years combined! I can't thank Steve enough for showing us this miraculous sight! None of the Spotted Salamanders we saw were any shorter that 4 1/2 or 5 inches!

His website is here:
It's got the best pics of our local herps!

So, was it worth it, staying up late and getting cold and soaked at night? Hell yes!!!

Rock on to this bad ass's swagger...


  1. Amazing set! Let us consider the herping year BEGUN.

    1. Thank you, Jef!!! It's been an exciting couple of weeks!

  2. ¡El animalito con lunares es hermoso y vos sos un gran actor!!!!! .Martha