If you have seen the cover photo on this blog, you know what I am into. If you have ever met me and taken a look at my wrist, you know what I am about.
So it should come as no surprise that Big Night is basically my own personal witch’s New Year. The world is getting renewed. Get your life.
For the record, I haven’t actually witnessed Big Night the biggest way. On the first warm wet night in early spring the Spotted Salamanders, and many other amphibians, make their way into Vernal Pools and ponds for fellowship and f…reproduction. I only saw my first Spotted Salamander last year (a bit later into April) in the daytime, hiding under a log next to a pond full of male spermatophores and eggs. This year I was knocked flat out by the flu for a week when the rains started, and I could do nothing but lie in bed and gaze at the pills that were not successfully lowering my fever. I got better but did not make it out Sunday night when conditions were perfect. The Big Night is when the salamanders can be seen crawling through the woods toward the water. I understand that sometimes there are so many of them that they seem to cover the forest floor. Want a shot at seeing some one day? Protect our lovely eastern forests! Embrace a leaf litter layer in your yard. Let fallen logs lay. That is the habitat they require 360 days of the year, and even during the week or so they spend mating in the water. They return to the woods during the daytime- and that is when I have had luck finding them.
Monday, on my way back from work, as the rain started up again, I returned to the pond that was so popular with my spotted friends last year. The spermatophores were present. A huge area was jam packed with Wood Frog eggs near hatching. The Spotted Salamanders had not laid eggs yet though! Most likely the ladies were waiting to make their way to the pond last night. I will return and report back.
There was a lot of action! Mating Red Spotted Newts, many Red Backed Salamanders, and multiple Spotteds unearthed from their hiding spots. The approved method is to quickly and fully lift a log and scan. If there are salamanders or any other animals there, gently move them out from under the log before replacing it. They will wiggle right back under there I assure you. At least until nightfall. When touching make sure your hands are wet. Placing the salamander on a damp leaf is ideal, as a 98 degree hand could shock their only barely thawed system. Happy New Year!