I have always believed that the best and most important nature discoveries take place in our own backyards. That lesson has never been truer for me…
On Friday night I was driving to the Grumpy Old Man’s house in heavy rain, and the backroads I’ve travelled so often filled up with frogs. I was coming from the pool where I’d seen my first Spotted Salamanders, but I’d had to leave before the sun set and the action picked up to avoid getting a ticket. Like most parks that one closes to the public at sunset.
Seeing all those frogs got me wondering though, about the pond I was heading toward in the woods behind the house that I more or less called home starting 20 years ago. I went out to it around 9pm with a headlamp and rain boots. There were Pickeral Frogs everywhere, and Toads, and Peepers going wild at the tops of shrubs. But right at the first point next to the pond where I shined my light, I saw the bright yellow spots and large body of a Spotted Salamander!!!!! She had her front toes in the water, but she held perfectly still while the light was on her. I saw another very fat one in the same position at the opposite side of the pond. The adults of this species can live 20-30 years! These very ladies may have been visiting this pond before I ever did, may even have been born in those waters around the time I was born. And all this time I never ever imagined they were right there beneath my feet.
I didn’t have my camera with me; and I am glad. But I went back the next morning and saw evidence of these creepers’ very femininity… Can you spot the eggs under the surface of the water in the photo? Hint: they are small white clusters clinging to sticks…. that can barely be seen with the overall glare. Perfect for you if you celebrate Easter and the egg hunt you already did was a little too easy.