Thursday, March 18, 2010

One spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) isn't all that impressive, but a few dozen can belt out a blanket of sound. (I guess we shouldn't expect much from a 'peeper,' though they do sound bigger than they are; inevitably the first peeper you find is much smaller than you were expecting). That's one of my favorite sensations - to stand in the darkness as the individual voices merge into that solid chorus all around you.

Once a year the spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) come out in their polka-dotted masses to hold their orgies. The chuckling/quacking wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) do the same thing, though a little less attractive in their subdued tan with darker masks. There are places we know we'll find them, which was where we headed the past couple springs, but this year Jen and I headed somewhere new.

Not exactly somewhere new, I guess, rather a marsh we frequent later in the spring, but where we've seen the after-effects of salamander orgies, the blobby egg masses they leave behind. I figured if we'd seen egg masses, we'd find the spotted salamanders on the right warm, rainy night.

I guess we didn't pick the right night. On Sunday, after about three solid days of rain (and after we'd slogged a half hour through sopping woods and thigh-high water that was too much for Jen's waders), the places we'd look for the spotted salamanders were deep under water from the adjacent flooded creek, and we couldn't spot any spotteds.

The peepers were out in force, though, and I was thrilled to be out there to hear them again (even if Jen wasn't so thrilled about her flooded waders).

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