Is it spring yet?

Today it’s absolutely gorgeous–mid-50’s and sunny. Feels like we’ve been waiting forever for spring weather. And the thing I’m most impatient for–amphibian migration! I found out about DEC’s amphibian crossing guard program about a year and a half ago, and I have been dying to do it. Last year I drove around in the dark by myself and didn’t see anything. My husband and daughter tagged along once too, since it’s hard to drive and look at the same time. I heard recently that last year’s migration was likely fragmented, and very late at night, like 2 or 3am. It’s so tricky to predict!

This year, though, I am heartened to be connected with like-minded salamander-lovers. There was a well-attended DEC training at Teatown this week–so much fun! I’m going to try to head out with some fellow Teatown folks, and I met some other Katonah locals who’d like to look for a spot around here. We’ve been looking at the maps again, and I have a few new ideas.

Because it’s me I had to make amphibian cookies for the meeting!

Tomorrow’s looking like a potential candidate for a Big Night, but it’s still hard to say. What we’re looking for: air temps above 40 degrees, rainy and wet weather, and thawed ground. When these things come together, you might have a night when they’re on the move. Basically, several woodland pool-breeding species come out en masse to mate. They are wood frogs, spotted salamanders, the Jefferson/blue-spotted salamander complex, and the four-toed salamander. They over-winter underground in the upland forest, then come out to reproduce in very early spring. Most other frogs and toads will have a slightly later breeding period, and don’t tend to hit the water at exactly the same time. Salamanders can vary in their breeding habits quite a bit. Still, if you’re going out for an amphibian migration, wet warmer weather is good for all species, so you may encounter them out and about then too. The DEC program sets out to help in areas where the amphibians need to cross a road to get to the breeding ground. The salamanders in particular are very slow-moving, and road mortality is a serious issue in some places. I suppose it’s a good thing that I haven’t been able to find a place where these lovely creatures are in this kind of danger, but I just want to see it for myself sometime!

If it’s not tomorrow night, it’s looking to be dry for another ten days or so… March just seems to be the month of waiting.

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