Along the trail here at Norcross there are a series of pools that fill with water seasonally, creating a temporary habitat for some of the more unique creatures that can be found in our woods. These vernal ponds receive the most attention in spring for a variety of reasons, among them being that they are a sign of spring; however, they should not be overlooked in autumn.
Our pools, like many vernal pools, begin to fill with water in autumn. This, of course, means they are actually “autumnal” rather than “vernal”. The past few years this annual cycle has been more pronounced because it has been so dry during late spring and summer. So dry, in fact, some of the pools have completely dried out early. Too early for some of the amphibians to morph and make it on to land.
Even after almost four inches of rain fell earlier this week, the pools are still relatively dry. Hopes for additional rain from Joaquin have gone out to sea, which is okay as we certainly don’t need the wind. As the autumnal pools fill this fall, stop and take a look. Enjoy the foliage and the crisp smell of fallen leaves. Do you see any bright red winterberries? Carefully look under the fallen logs. Do you see any redbacks? What about insects?
Just because the pools are in the limelight in spring, don’t pass them by on your autumn hike. You might be surprised at what you see.