Here in Farmington, Connecticut we have been at the edge of our seats waiting for Spring to come. For some folks, robins and crocuses just don’t cut it. There are two things that really define Spring for me: woodcocks and herps! Well, the woodcocks are here, calling and displaying at dusk every night. But right now my attention is drawn to the fact that it is raining lightly and the temperature is in the mid-forties. It can only mean one thing-amphibians are getting ready for date night!
On wet nights like these, frogs, toads and salamanders return to their natal ponds and sing their hearts out to find a willing female. Egg masses are laid in the water and in a few weeks there will be tadpoles, froglets and young frogs all over the place.
The amphibians will do anything to get back to the pond they came from to hook up with their intended(s). They cross parking lots, driveways, roads-anything standing between them and where they were born. The mortality rate on certain roads is terribly high. Thousands pay the ultimate price for wanting to get back home and reproduce.
On wet nights in early spring there can be huge migrations of frogs, toads and salamanders all beating a path to “their” wetlands to pass on some genes. It’s called a “Big Night” by herpetology fans. Here at Hill-Stead the songs of the Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs can make you feel like you have lost your mind if you listen to them long enough and really concentrate on the sound. I like it a lot, and it makes me glad that this wet area was saved from more development. Hill-Stead has lots of springs and swampy areas. They are jam-packed with screaming , wet-skinned amphibian sex maniacs right about now.
Open your window one of these soft spring nights and listen for the frogs. If you think you hear a flock of ducks and are wondering why they are quacking at night, think again. They are Wood Frogs. The ones with the high-pitched trill are the Peepers. You’ll love it and Spring may never again be the same for you.