Herp Update: Amphibian Migration Interrupted, Fundraising Goal Reached, Upcoming Events

Herp Update: Amphibian Migration Interrupted, Fundraising Goal Reached, Upcoming Events

Amphibian Migration Interrupted

Herpers, after our first major amphibian migration of the year two weeks ago, conditions have not been great to get out and see or help with amphibian migrations.  Here in the Lake Champlain Basin we had appropriate weather for migration in the early morning hours of March 15, but it was not convenient for humans.  The timing was good news for the amphibians though, since there is very little traffic between midnight and 6 AM.  Sadly, some of the Spotted Salamanders reported had been hit and killed despite the early hours.

Scott Winslow heard Wood Frogs calling in Shaftsbury on the March 13, and Janice Perry reported some Wood Frogs calling from her pond in Ferrisburgh on the 15.  Both choruses were comprised of only a few frogs.  Most amphibians have not yet moved.

Although climate change is certainly tempting amphibians to move earlier in the season than usual, and it has made our weather more erratic, spring amphibian migration is usually a series of small, medium, and major movements strung throughout the spring rather than one “Big Night”.  Although, I don’t see ideal migration conditions in our current 10-day forecast, there are some showers predicted for the middle of next week that might trigger some smaller movements.

Molly Parren and Lindsey Pett both reported Wood Turtles basking when the sun was out earlier this month.  Melita Bass also reported a Common Gartersnake out and about in Shoreham.  When the weather turns cold again, the Wood Turtles will drop back into their streams and most snakes will go back underground, but sadly sometimes snakes are caught out away from their dens and freeze.  Erin O’Conner reported a Common Watersnake way back on February 9 that had emerged too early and froze on the ice of Lake Champlain in West Haven.  On March 5, Karen Barber of Benson reported one of her resident Eastern Ribbonsnakes basking.  Despite Eastern Ribbonsnake being a southern species at the northern edge of its range, Karen sees them emerge very early in the spring compared to other local snakes.  She also reported a DeKay’s Brownsnake back on March 4.  Hopefully, these snakes got back undercover when the weather returned to winter conditions.

Our Annual Fundraising Goal has been Reached!

We reached our fundraising goal yesterday when a generous first-time contributor donated $338 to get us to our $20,000 goal.  We will accept donations any time of the year, but we will close down the GoFundMe site in the next few days. Thank you very much to all those who donated to keep our work going!

Upcoming Herptile Events

I was informed that tonight (Wednesday, March 20) there will be a Toad Trivia competition at Stone Corral Brewery in Richmond at 7 PM.  From what I hear the trivia will cover all amphibians. This is a first for Vermont as far as I am aware.

I will be giving an in person Powerpoint presentation titled Selected Reptiles and Amphibians of the Central Green Mountains at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Middlebury on March 29th at 7 PM.  The event is organized by the Middlebury Chapter of the Green Mountain Club and it is free and open to the public.

On April 9th from 7-8:30 I am giving an online presentation for the Vermont Land Trust titled Vernal Pool Reptiles and Amphibians.  This is also free and open to the public but you must register in advance at: vlt.org/events/vernal-pool-reptiles-and-amphibians/

Photos (not from Vermont)

I recently returned from a vacation in Costa Rica, so I thought I would share a few herp photos from Central America.

The top photo was taken by my wife Kris.  It is a Spectacled Caiman.  They also have American Crocodiles there, but none of the American Alligators that we find in the southeastern US.  The second photo, also taken by wife, is a Central American Whiptail.  The young whiptails have bright blue tails just like our one lizard, the Common (not so common here in VT) Five-lined Skink,  The last photo I took is of a Fer-de-lance we found dead in the road.  They are an extremely venomous (and pretty) pit viper.

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