to the Herpers: amphibians in wintering sites, maybe

Herpers, a few hardy groups headed out Friday night in the snow. Kiley B was unable to find any crossing amphibians in the snow in central Vermont. Kate K, Cindy S, Nina M and others did find a couple Blue-spotted Salamanders crossing in the snow on North Street in New Haven. I had a drift fence open in the woods of Bridport on Friday and Saturday nights that captured no movement of amphibians at that location at all. Of course, the minimal activity was not a surprise, given that the snow never changed to rain at all on Friday night and Saturday night had no precipitation.

I had my UVM class out on field trips all weekend and turned up a wealth of amphibians and even a few reptiles by turning cover. We found Blue-spotted, Jefferson, Spotted, Eastern Red-backed, and Four-toed Salamanders and Eastern Newts. We also found Wood Frogs, Spring Peepers, and a single Gray Treefrog. The two Spring Peepers were found under the leaves and may well have been exactly where they spent the winter. If so, this is the first time we have found them in their wintering location. The small 1/2 grown Gray Tree Frog was found under a rock and I suspect it also was found where it spent the winter which is another first for us. Wood Frogs were moving during the heat of the day. This is not unusual for them. By mid-afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday there were choruses of Wood Frogs calling from the ponds here in the valley. Only a few calling Spring Peepers have been reported.

I took my students to Vermont’s only amphibian conservation area and found that the amphibians there were at the surface but most had not yet moved. My students had immediate and frequent success. Two student groups turned up more that 20 amphibians under single pieces of cover. One group had 23 amphibians of five species under a one rock. I don’t remember ever seeing those numbers of amphibians under a single piece of cover. As it warmed up on Sunday afternoon Common Gartersnakes also started coming to the surface. We found three in 30 minutes. Keep in mind though that this was at a very warm and sunny Champlain Basin location. Painted Turtles were also reported basking from shallow pond edges in the Champlain Basin on Sunday afternoon.

I am sure lots of amphibians moved in the rains early this morning. Although the roads will probably dry out, there may be some limited movement tonight where other conditions are appropriate. Currently the most promising forecasts for movement this week are Tuesday and Friday nights

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