Happy Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day with images from April, 2018.

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Starlings searching for spilled grain on an active farm

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Mallard at rest on a wintry spring day

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Ring-billed Gull foraging in a flooded field

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Mature whitetail after a long, cold rain

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Turkey Vulture cleaning up a road-kill

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White-throated Sparrow with a kernel of corn

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Breeding Wood Frog in a vernal pool – today – a month behind schedule

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Wild turkey (a young gobbler or “jake”)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Amphibians and Frozen Wetlands

Hunkering down on successive mornings of 9 and 14 degrees F, I can’t help but wonder about the impact of a deep freeze on the reproductive cycle of amphibians in shallow water, wood frogs in particular.

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A Central New York wetland; April 5, 2016

I monitor a small vernal pool every year as the warm March sun melts winter ice and wood frogs begin their explosive breeding cycle.

I last checked the pool on April 2, just before the arctic blast and snowstorm arrived. It was a chilly, 45 degree day and the pool was clear of ice. Judging by the presence of several large egg masses, the wood frogs had successfully completed their reproductive cycle.

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Wood Frog egg mass in a vernal pool; April 2, 2016

One frog, lethargic in the cold water, allowed me to experiment with light reflections and shooting angles.

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When spring returns, and the little vernal pool comes back to life, I plan to examine the egg masses to see what, if any, impact the freezing temperatures had on egg survival.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Wood Frogs

Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) are notorious for their opportunistic breeding behavior. They quickly congregate, mate and lay eggs during the first warm spell following ice melt in March or April. Low, repetitive, quacking sounds in vernal pools and wetlands announce this ephemeral breeding frenzy, but constant vigilance is still critical – if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss all of the action!

I saw a few frogs in a vernal pool briefly, four days ago. It was 18 degrees (F) and snowing this morning when I visited the same pool. It was much too cold for an amphibian –  but there were eggs in the pool! Done!!!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.