It is no secret. March has sucked. The weather has sucked, our private lives have been in turmoil and there has just been no chance to get outside. It wasn't until March 26th, a cold Sunday, that we even had the inclination to go out and take a walk.
We went slowly. We took a chilly (41° F) walk around our local spot at about 1 PM. The ponds were still frozen. We poked around the snake dens, hoping to not see any dead snakes, frozen to the ground. We saw none. We considered ourselves very lucky when we flipped a pair of lovely Redbacks.
Honestly, we were absolute toast after just a short walk. But we finally had our first March herps.
The next night, Monday the 27th, it was cool (45°ish) and drizzly. We had discussed with some friends about going to see if any salamanders were on the move, but the conditions weren't going to be right, so plans were scrapped. That said, Andrea and I decided to go anyway and headed out for some Noodles and a drive down Route 24, targeting the spot for a little after 8 PM. We got there and it was spitting, but it was far from a proper rain. Unruffled, we hit the trails.
Our first encounter was a flipped Redback.
Soon, we could make out the distant sound of ducks quacking... as we had hoped, Wood Frogs were up and calling! Of course, it got quiet as we approached, headlights shining. Our first visual contact went unphotographed, but we finally got lucky and had our first Wood Frog on the year.
We walked more or less the full "Big Night" hike, knowing that any salamander sighting would be very lucky. Still, we both had the feeling we would see at least one Ambystoma. We'd just have to look very hard, something we might not have had the energy for.
Heading back after the turn-back point, we wanted to pay closer attention to the noisy Wood Frog pools. I had become determined to get some sound recorded of them calling. Their voices filled us with some much needed cheer. As I was stalking along the edge of the pool, Andrea called from behind me... "Spotted"! I hurried back...
I had walked past him, but Andrea spotted (hah) it. He wasn't very big, as is in evidence from this shot, after he swam up towards my boot.
The Wood Frogs alone had made the trip worthwhile, but this was a very nice bonus.
Speaking of Woodies...
And I finally got my sound...
Our last shot of the night was of this tenacious fella. He just sat there while we took his portrait. Andrea had seen him call but we couldn't get a shot of the throat sack out.
So, that's that. That is March. At least we finally made it out for a fun, if frigid, nighttime walk among the amphibians. The rain is falling again tonight, but we're otherwise engaged. Perhaps more salamanders will be on the move but with snow a possibility in 3 days time, I kind of hope they stay put for a while longer.