Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A night to remember

I did go back to the pond on Monday and boy was I ever glad that I did. It rained off and on all day so I was sure that the time was perfect. It was a night I will remember for a long time.  I am uploading a lot of photos because I think they are so cool.  You might want to click on them to make them larger for better close ups.  Basically this is a slide show. Enjoy.

Let me say right off the bat that the noise was unbelievable. The little Northern Spring Peepers (Pseudacris c. crucifer) can peep like no other.

After a minute my ears were ringing. They never let up the whole time I was there.

This one won the contest for the biggest.
It looks like his eyes are rolling back into his head as he put all he had into it.

The Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) were in abundance but their calls would start with a few and then before you knew it they were all quacking to beat the band. Then they would quiet down only to start up again. I never found the band leader.

Hello, what is your sign?

Hey, can a fella have some privacy here?
Notice the spring peeper, red spotted newt and wood frog looking on with envy.

A small gathering of Red Spotted Newts (Nothophthalmus viridescens). They live in this pond all year long.

This is my favorite photo from the night. It captures how surreal it all was.
The eggs look like eyes to me.

But enought about frogs. I was looking for Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) and I found them. First I noticed a couple hanging out in the middle of the pond. When ever I would shine the light on them they would duck under the leaves and I thought I would never get a photo. They were hanging out where the males laid their sperm packets.

Those little white blobs are packets of sperm that the males lay down. Later he will lead a female over to his packet and do a little dance to convince her to take it up into her and then lay eggs. Sometimes the males will lay packets on top of other packets. Talk about competition!

Here is one that I lifted out of the water. In one area they were so thick I just reached in gabbed one.
It was very slippery and hard to hold onto.

While I was trying to hold onto that one, this one just walked by from out of the woods.

Now here is what I thought was so amazing. The males usually go to the pools and ponds first and have what is called a congress, where they all swim together and that gets them excited and in the mood to breed. They lay the packets of sperm called spermatophore in another area of the pool.  You saw those in the previous photos. Below is the congress.

There are about 11 in this photo.
It was impossible to get the movement and all of them into one picture.
There were probably 50 or more in this one area.

If you look closely at the center of the photo you will see a Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum). I saw about 5 of them but they are so dark I probably missed a few. In fact I didn't even realize I had take a photo of this one until I was back home and saw the photo. Jeffersons are also Mole Salamanders like the Spotted.

They were having a ball. Can you imagine living most of the year underground crawling around in shrew holes and other paths and almost never coming up. Then one warm rainy night in the spring you and everyone else that you knew that had the same birthday as you decides to go swimming and have an orgy. The were twisiting and turning and showing off swimming skills.

Everyone in a while I would see one come up for air.

Just as I was leaving I noticed this little frog up on the hill looking down at the pond. It still has dirt on its back and must have just crawled out. I believe it is a Northern Green Frog (Rana clamitans melanota).

Pretty cute!

On the drive back down the mountain I came to an area of the road where Eastern American Toads (Bufo a. americanus) were hopping to the other side so of course I had to stop.

  And help them across.

So that was my big spring adventure! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I didn't write to much about them so I hope you will take the time learn more about these wonderful little critters that make a treck to the water each year to breed. You can see how important these vernal pool and puddles are to their survival.

Be sure to visit other blogs at Watery Wednesday.


~Cheryl said...

You . . . are . . . amazing!

Sunny said...

What a great series of pictures. Excellent!
Sunny :)

Woodswalker said...

Amazing photos of all these amphibian phrolics!

Ellen Rathbone said...

OH man am I jealous! What a terrific find! I went out with our local herp specialist last year and we found a few wood frogs breeding, and a few salamanders, but nothing like this...and certainly not the heaps of eggs you had! Very cool - thanks for sharing.

Gaelyn said...

Wow, what a great collection of night shots at the pond orgy.

Squirrel said...

These are great!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour of the pond and the great photos. The next best thing to being there. Reminded me of the old song "The Night has a Thousand eyes." The frog with his rolled back eyes is a trip. Guess passion will do that to you...