Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Little pond pool, icy morning March 5, 2008

I describe myself as someone who watches the world—of a curiosity-driven character.
Pleased to focus my attention on that which is new, and unsettled when it seems not to be there—I’ve not learned to wait well.

When late last spring the nesting birds settled into their quietness, summer insects sprang to life—filling the lull with six-legged activity.
Every day continuing new, with so much to see.
Nature’s stream of beginnings flowing from one to the next.

Watching and waiting now, I feel a gap between winter’s end and the birds’ return.
A precious time for life.
It seems nature should have filled this space with something.

Wood pool, iced March 5, 2008

It is here, even now as the chill fights to remain.
The amphibians—frogs and salamanders.
The newness I seek.

Wood pool with Wood Frog egg masses beneath ice, March 5, 2008.

Little pond pool with Jefferson Salamander spermatophores beneath ice, March 5, 2008

Although I observed salamanders moving into these pools and heard wood frogs calling, 2 nights earlier, neither are considered evidence of breeding. Wood Frog egg masses and Jefferson Salamander spermatophores are biological indicators of breeding activity.
Vernal pools are defined by the confirmed breeding of these indicator species.

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Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh my gosh. THis is so neat. I have never seen wood frog egg masses or salamander (?). All that ice is making me cold.

Tom said...

Great Images Nina- I wasn't able to get out to see any amphibian breeding yet, so thank you for these pictures!


nina said...

The salamander spermatophores are placed in the pool by the males. A courted female, is nudged toward it by her male. She picks it up and takes it within her body, then lays egg masses underwater. There's sometimes a few days wait until these are seen in the pools.
(I've been reading a lot about salamander love)

I have a feeling that water-blurred, reflective images are going to be a challenge!

Threadspider said...

It's an annual miracle-the return of the frogs to their breeding ponds and the arrival of frog spawn. It's just happened in my pond too.
The salamanders are fascinating, aren't they?

Cathy said...

Nina -

There's so much pleasure in sharing your encounter with awakenings and stirrings.

How long do the adult salamanders remain in these vernal ponds? Where does everyone go after the celebration is over? Dang. It's so hard to think of all these 'going on's' and most of us are unaware - asleep to the wonder - the trembling mystery.

Dave Coulter said...

I'm hoping spring is as inevitable as you make it seem!

nina said...

Cathy--I'm certainly not the expert, but,I, like you, keep having more questions.
From what I've read, the males usually have a longer stay, arriving just ahead of the females and greeting them at the edge of the pool.
Depending on the season's timing a stay could be as short as a couple days, or as long as almost 20. (sometimes several warm nights, interspersed with freezing ones, send waves of migrants over longer time)
After females have deposited eggs in masses attached to grasses, they wander back to their home territories, again in cover of darkness--to live solitary lives and feed underground there until the following year.
I've heard the vernal pools refered to as "ancestral"--individuals maturing in the late summer and leaving will return to the pool of their birth, even if amother is closer.
The same path is traveled each year, sometimes for 20 years!

Anonymous said...

wow, that is something that we're still about 2 months away from. We have a real problem with the muscrats eating the frog's eggs. In previous years we get oodles of tadpoles but last year I had to hunt and hunt to see if even a single egg survived. We did see about a handful of tadpoles and that was it, compared to the usual hundreds.


Mungo said...

Hello Nina,

I have been reading your blog site for a while now, and have had it linked on my blog for a while now. I was wondering if you would consider linking to my site as an exchange to encourage more traffic to both our sites - it seems that our audiences could have similar interests in the outdoors, photography, camping and more.

Anyway, just thought it might be useful - hope all is well, look forward to reading your posts (I use Google Reader to get the RSS posts).

All the best,


This blog contains tutorials, information and photographs on bushcraft, camping, hiking, photography, nature, plants, politics, project management, and posts and photos on everything from Mors Kochanski, to Ray Mears and Bear Grylls, Les Stroud of Survivorman fame, canoeing in Algonquin Park, Toronto, Ontario and much more.

Trixie said...

I love you images and your writing with this piece. Very interesting topic, thanks!

Mary said...

There is so much life going on that we miss. I admire your curiosity and love of nature in its tiniest forms. I'm a watcher, too. But I wonder more than you :o)

mon@rch said...

It is amazing how nature can surprise us. One day they are laying eggs the next they are covered with ice! Thanks for showing us all these wonderful photos!

Cathy said...

Nina, Thank you. I find on reading this information, that something about these ancient re-birthings - the sense of night time journeys, ancestral pools, the return to solitary existence underground . . . it's all very moving.

Is it just my age? When I watched Monarch's link to the video of a frozen Wood Frog - slowly coming to life . . honestly - tears.

Well. It is all Wonder - full.

nina said...

I understand that sentiment completely, Cathy.
If you had been here on the night I turned to see them marching across the field....well... I ran back to the house to tell my husband, tears streaming down my face, "they're here!"