Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Biggest Night yet! 4-10-2015

Friday the 10th... it was warming up throughout the day... and it was raining. A lot of us were calling for amphibian movement. Not sure where we should be heading, we decided to try and be useful and headed back out to Southborough where we had been three nights prior. If things were going to move, we thought it would be wise to lend a helping hand. We picked up Matt S and headed west. On the Pike. On a Friday. The traffic really wasn't as bad as it could have been.

We got near our destination and we started seeing Peepers in the road already. We pulled over and Matt jumped out and whisked two out of the street. A photo session ensued in the backseat of the car.

We got to our spot, parked and hit the road. Peepers were calling and hopping about everywhere.

We checked the vernal that we thought was the destination of these amphibians. There were loads of Peepers there.

Then we started seeing Wood Frogs, heavy with eggs.
OK, they had made it safe and sound.

We moved a small Woodie off the pavement...

We saw a flashlight coming towards us; apparently somebody doing the same thing we were... helping amphibians. It was a man named Brian; his wife and son had been part of the Tuesday crew! We talked and then saw our first Spotted Salamander, motoring along, trying to cross the road.
She got a helping hand from us.

Despite the rain stopping earlier, it was plenty wet out. Brian decided to go home and get his son Luke to join in the evening adventure. On the way to his house, he pointed out this Peeper hanging out in a puddle.

With five sets of eyes now, we found plenty of Peepers in the road... like this one:

Matt saw this Redback on the move.

We went down the road a ways and stopped at a (litter strewn) vernal. Despite the debris, Wood Frogs were making a racket there, quacking their call as loud as they could. This couple  floated towards us.
The male was still calling while in amplexus. The little devil!

Heading back to the earlier vernal, we misplaced Matt somewhere but we kept moving Peepers and Woods off the road. Too many to count.

Brian and Luke headed home but offered us an invitation to look into the pond behind his home if we wanted. A wonderful offer, but we had to find Matt first!! He eventually showed up and we headed back to Brian's... after helping this beetle cross the road.

Brian met us as we walked up the driveway and told us the layout. (Incredibly generous is an understatement!) I followed a small gully that ran along the side of the yard and noticed bright yellow spots between the leaves... Spotteds!
Every few feet there were two or three Spotted Salamanders!

When we hit the pond itself, magic happened.
Big night was upon us! The salamanders weren't bothering to cross the street... the had decided Brian's pond was perfect!!

There was a small stream running down from the pond which eventually ran into another pool. Andrea and I followed it down a ways and noticed quite a few salamanders trying to climb upstream to get to the pond!! I have never seen such a thing. They really weren't having a very easy time of it.

Brian had come out to see how we were doing and went in to collect Luke, despite it being past his bedtime. (Mine too, for that matter.) But nature happens at all hours and we all enjoyed the many salamanders, wood frogs and peepers that were active back there.

This guy was late to the party!

What an extraordinary opportunity Brian had given us. We can't thank him enough! An unforgettable night for everyone involved, I hope. Luke, it seems, is a young and energetic conservationist; he has even set up flat rocks in the yard for the garters, ribbons and milks that live there. We're honored to have been able to herp in this special spot and hopefully share some of our excitement with him.

We said our farewells and thank yous (though it's hard to thank enough for this experience) and hit the road to head back to Boston. It turns out we'd forgotten to eat in our excitement to get on the road! Oh well... a Twix Bar cures all. We did find another Peeper on the way out...

It's a very satisfying feeling driving home after such a night. We saved a bunch of animals on the road, we witnessed the beauty of nature and we had our faith restored in humanity. Well, some of it! Haha... but it's good to know that there are some awesome folks out there and indeed, some hope for the future.


  1. Friday night was definitely the night! Finally saw some spotteds at a pool in Watertown late on the 10th, but nothing like that video. Amazing!

    1. Congratulations!! Spring is actually here!!