Our lamentably short winter made it easier this year for our small group of nighttime observers to catch the salamander and frog breeding display without having to deal with deep wet snow. Breeding occurs with the first warm rain, and this year it was March 10. We got lucky and saw a salamander “congress,” the writhing mass of male salamanders the night they lay their spermatophores. The photo shows only a few; we watched for a long time as they clustered and went in and out of the leaf bed. The next two pictures show a male Spotted Salamander and the third proof that we have Jefferson salamanders too. Then, a night later, at another pool, I heard a weird duck-like sound which is the mating call of a male wood frog. Then a churning object in the water with many frogs converging through the clear water. It is “amplexus,” where the successful male clutches the female for hours while she lays her eggs and the defeated suitors (look carefully) swim away.
I’ve put reflective tacks on trees to guide me and anyone else to the pools on dark nights; I’m also ordering a red filter for my flashlight. If anyone wants to join me, contact me with a comment to this post. – Michael