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Finally, a morning where gloves aren’t needed!

Spring has been slow to appear this year but it is happening, as evidenced in the ephemeral ponds along the Vernal Pool Trail. Vernal is rooted in Latin and means “of the spring”. Vernal pools are therefore temporary ponds that typically fill with water in spring and dry up during summer, preventing fish from populating the habitat. Of course, in nature, the only rule is that there are always exceptions to the rule. Some vernal pools don’t dry entirely, some don’t dry out every year and some fill in fall. Regardless, vernal pools are important habitat for wildlife including some amphibians (wood frogs and mole salamanders) and invertebrates (fairy shrimp) that use these sites exclusively for breeding.

Earlier this month vernal pool enthusiasts waited anxiously for that first rainy evening with temperatures above 40°F. This is known as “Big Night” when the frogs and salamanders migrate to the pools. “Big Night” doesn’t exactly describe what happened here this year. Instead, over the course of a few “little nights” the pools awoke. Wood frogs began their quacking chorus on April 10th with egg masses appearing soon thereafter. Spotted Salamander eggs (see photo) were observed on April 21st.

Do you have a pool nearby? Go out and check. Give yourself time. Let your eyes adjust to looking into the water, much like you would let your vision adjust to the dark. For more information about vernal pools, visit our friends at the Vernal Pool Association.

This time of year is fleeting. Go outside and experience the marvels of spring.

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