Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pre-migration Madness 2-24-2016

With mild temperatures and soaking rains predicted for the evening, we made plans to head out to one of our salamander migration spots on Wednesday night. We knew that February was a little soon to predict an actual migration but we suspected that some knuckleheads might be up and around. We got to our spot in Bristol County by about 8:30 PM, driving through a heavy downpour the whole way. Onward to the haunted swamp.

We were bundled up pretty good and, of course, it pretty much stopped raining as we hit the trail. That's fine; I'm not ready to take the camera to the shop again. Andrea struck first with a lovely Redback who was just getting up for a warm, rainy walk.

How different it was this year from last... no snow, not much ice... seeing small critters wasn't going to be easy. We went slowly but surely. I went up a side trail (to "look for Wood Frogs") and noticed a vernal pool on the side. We went over (together... Andrea was unaware of my plans) and saw our first of the year Spotted Salamander!
She was tough to get a clean shot of... she was motorin'!
To escape our headlamps and cameras, she dove under some leaves in the pool.

Not a bad start.

So, I went further up to "look for Wood Frogs" and (in a bit) hit another edge of the pool. Hey... I found a Wood Frog under the water!
I got this shot and yelled for Andrea. I took my eye off of him for one second while she made her way over and he swam off. Oh well... my first Wood on the year.

We did quite a lot of slow hiking, eyeballing every stick and keeping an eye on every mud-puddle (of which there were many), but there wasn't any laterale or scutatum out and about, two species we were hoping for. Before long, Andrea spotted this Spotted.
Now that's the kind of mud-puddle dwelling we'd been hoping for. This guy had no time for small talk... he kept truckin' along, finally stopping long enough for me to get a nice portrait.

Heading back, we peeked into another vernal and saw this fine example of a Wood Frog sitting on a stick.
Andrea had her FOY now, too.

That was it for us. The Blues were either unimpressed by the weather or we just missed them all. As soon as we got back to the car, the skies opened up again. We briefly considered another run up the trail but the wind had been building the whole time. (In hindsight, it was a wise choice. Trees and limbs fell everywhere overnight.) On the ride back to the highway, I saw a small Woodie hopping across the road. I actually turned around and went to look for it before realizing that this was a fairly busy road and cruising it wouldn't be very wise. Hopefully, all of the rain-driven frogs would be fleet of webbed foot.

Not a bad night. Two new species on the year and an enjoyable romp through a haunted swamp. No pukwudgies were found.