No this isn’t a Monday morning post about some wild weekend party. At least not for me. The “Big Night” is that first warm (>40F) rainy night in the spring when all of the amphibians come out of their woodland hiding places to converge on their favorite vernal pool. Here they all meet up for a once-a-year breeding event. This is one of the great facts we learned at Jessica Tenzar’s talk at the Landing last Thursday. For the second year in a row Jess came to teach us about vernal pools, the animals that live in them, and what we can do to protect them. This year Jess added a discussion about her own research. Although her field methods had some folks squirming in their seats, it was very cool to learn how stable isotopes of Carbon and Nitrogen within the bodies of salamanders can actually show us exactly what they are feeding on throughout their lives.
The timing of the talk was just right. Not only is it the season for vernal pools throughout the Northeast, but we happen to be in the middle of a survey for the endangered Blue-spotted salamander near the Wapping Road Dam (see post from last week). So we are wating for that Big Night and waiting to see what we find. But the Big Night can be elusive. We had rain on the Thursday night of Jessica’s talk. But it wasn’t as much as predicted and no salamanders or wood frogs showed up in our survey area. So then we had our fingers crossed for the rains this weekend. Saturday night and Sunday were POURING and it was warm(ish). But still nothing. Our salmander survey expert Dan Wells tells me that it may have started raining too late on Saturday night. It usually needs to start before dusk.
So we’ll keep waiting and watching.