Herp Update: Current Herp Activity, Folding Pocket Guide, Changes in our Team, End of Annual Fundraiser – March 10, 2023

Herp Update: Current Herp Activity, Folding Pocket Guide, Changes in our Team, End of Annual Fundraiser – March 10, 2023

Current Herp Activity

Thankfully, since our last update, cooler temperatures and snows returned, keeping our amphibians in the ground where they belonged.  As a result, I have not received any reports of amphibians moving or calling above ground.  We did receive a photo and report of another Mudpuppy caught by an ice fisherman.  This one was caught in Lake Champlain in the town of North Hero.  It is one of our native Mudpuppies, as opposed to those that were introduced into the Connecticut River drainage.  The fisherman released it alive.  He reported it as a “Muddy Buddy”.  This is a good reminder that common names of critters can vary depending on who you are talking to, and why we always ask for a photo and/or some description so that we know for sure what species we are talking about.

It is time to start watching the weather forecast for appropriate conditions for spring migrations of amphibians.  Looking at our Morgan Road (Salisbury) records, the earliest date on which we had significant amphibian migrations was March 1 in 2017, when we counted over 100 amphibians of six species moving during a one hour visit.  Other early migrations were March 8 in 2012, March 10 in both 2016 & 2020, and March 12 in 2013.  Last year (2022), migration at Morgan Road began on March 19.  Due to its location in the southern Lake Champlain Basin, migration at Morgan Road usually starts earlier in the spring than at other locations, but everyone should start watching the weather forecast as well as snow and pond conditions for their areas.  Once we are seeing patches of open ground and there is at least some open water in our ponds, migration could happen.  Then we should watch for a forecast with rain and nighttime temperatures remaining above freezing.  The warmer the nighttime temperatures, the greater the number and the variety of amphibian species that are likely to move.  However, any nighttime temperature above freezing could generate some migrations as long as the above conditions are met.

If you live within easy driving distance of Salisbury, and you would like to be contacted when we have our two public educational nights at the amphibian crossing on Morgan Road, e-mail either Warren King (kinglet@TOGETHER.NET) or Heidi Willis (redsprings@MyFairpoint.net) and ask them to add you to their e-mail lists.

Our folding pocket guide to Vermont Amphibians is now available

Teage O’Connor of Crows Path tells us that our laminated, folding pocket guide to the amphibians of Vermont is now available.  Teage took the lead on these guides, but we have been working closely with him, providing maps and text, and reviewing all aspects of the guide.  You can order them for $15 from his website at: https://crowspath.org/natural-history/wildlife/amphibian-guide/

Order one for yourself and be ready for the spring migration.

Changes in Our Team

Sadly herper extraordinaire Matt Gorton has left us to pursue his PhD.  He will be replaced in part by EcoAmericorps employee Hanson Menzes and graduate student Rosy Metcalfe.  Hanson has been working with us on a focused outreach effort to fill in data gaps and Rosy will soon be working on a study of Smooth Greensnakes in Vermont.  They both will be joining us in the field when they are available.

Our Annual Fundraiser is Over

We have shut down our GoFundMe site for this winter and officially finished our fundraiser for this coming year.  Donations totaled about $17,500 and I have good reason to expect another $1,000 soon, so our total raised should be around $18,500.  This is short of our original goal, but combined with grants, it should cover our expenses.  Thank you all for your generosity and support.

Still, let’s be clear.  We will accept donations at any time :).  They can still be made by sending a check either made out to me (James S. Andrews) or made out to our non-profit fiscal agent (Vermont Family Forests) and sent to the address below.

Jim Andrews
642 Smead Road
Salisbury, VT  05769

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