I’ve managed a few walks lately, but I just can’t wait until the weather turns and I can really get out there. I’m looking ahead to some citizen science projects and gardening for wildlife. In just a few weeks, it will be amphibian migration season for those species that come out in the early spring rains to breed in vernal pools. I signed up with the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation to basically be a crossing guard for salamanders and frogs. I’m also getting trained by FrogWatch USA to recognize different frog calls and report on local populations. I always loved these creatures when I was little, and a salamander hike we took last year at the fabulous Skytop Lodge in the Poconos really brought back that childhood joy. I’m lucky enough to have the time and flexibility to devote right now, and I’m eager to see how this is going to go. I haven’t gotten much information yet, and last year they didn’t have anyone in Westchester County working on the migration project, so it’s a lot of unknowns. Depending on the weather, we could possibly start seeing some movement by the end of the month.
Clockwise from top left: northern red salamander, mountain dusky salamander, marbled salamander, northern slimy salamander. We found all of these at Skytop. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I spotted that enormous red guy. I was so geeked out. I’d never seen any of these species in the wild before. That day we saw over 100 amphibians, mostly red efts and American toads.
Even before my life-changing salamander hunt, I had built a tiny frog pond in the yard so we can have some amphibian friends right nearby.
Breaking ground; visiting the pond; a garter snake and a green frog coexist.
When we visit my parents in Connecticut, we spend much of the day traipsing back and forth between the frog ponds there, so I felt like we really needed one of our own. They have a small natural, spring-fed pond that my dad has helped along so it doesn’t dry out in the summer, and recently, he converted their swimming pool to a natural pool. If you wonder where I get it from, this should explain a lot!