With the arrival of spring weather, I have been out and about to see what’s happening at vernal pools in the area. Unsurprisingly, it’s peepers and wood frog season. On Sunday, my daughter and I went for a hike at some trails in Katonah and found this network of vernal pools and streams literally hopping with wood frogs. They quieted a bit as we approached, but were quickly back to their quacking ways. The water was bubbling and rippling with all the movement as the frogs sought out mates. I didn’t see any of them in amplexus though. This is what it’s called when the male frog climbs aboard the female and clutches her, in readiness for egg-laying. At this time of year, the males’ thumbs and front legs are swollen in anticipation of this event. Are the females not there yet, or are they taking time picking partners? I really don’t know…
What really blew my mind though was when I realized there were frogs tumbling down the hill behind me towards the water. I mean, they were hopping, but the steepness of the slope gave them a rather clumsy look as they negotiated it. The good migration night was Thursday, and it was several dry days later that they were traveling right at midday. Did they emerge slowly on Thursday night, then take their time warming up before heading out? Wood frogs can survive being frozen and then thawing out naturally. Could that process have played a role in the delay?
I checked out another site where I heard wood frogs last spring, and they were back at it. They quieted as I approached, and just like last year, they wouldn’t start up again, no matter how quiet I was. Is this population somehow more cautious than the other? Was it more a function of timing, and the first group were so frenzied that they just couldn’t be bothered?
So. Many. Questions.