This Thing Called Courage

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Big Night


IF YOU CHECK OUT MY ARCHIVES FROM A YEAR AGO, you'll see a fairly lengthy account of my first 'Big Night' experience-- Big Night is the term naturalists use to describe the night, the first semi-warm, rainyish (or after a rain) night, when the salamanders leave the woods where they've been hibernating under rocks and logs and leaves, and re-enter their vernal pools, where the males 'congress' (rub themselves together in a huge, writhing mass) ejecting spermataphores, which the females later absorb. But the Wood Frogs (picture at left) also come out at more or less the same time, and that is what I will be hunting for tomorrow night, along with Peepers, with Chris. Click here to hear the wood frogs funny rattle-call.

http://www.umesc.usgs.gov/terrestrial/amphibians/armi/frog_calls/woodfrog.wav

I'm not going to post a link to spring peeper calls, because everyone should get out anytime from late afternoon to dawn and try to hear them for themselves! They're just starting now-- look for vernal pools (shallow spring pools that dry up by mid-summer (usually) that are free of fish) in the woods or along edges of woods (there is actually a ton of peepers living in a small wet area three feet off North Border Road down the street, where several thousand cars must go by every day (it's a feeder road to Route 93, which is only a hundred yards or so away, so you don't necessarily have to go into the middle of the forest to hear them.) It's amazing to think this sacred chorus of spring has been going on for millions of years, and continues today, despite how carelessly we have exploited the Natural World. It's never really spring until I hear the first peepers, and with any luck I will hear my first ones of 2007 tomorrow night-- and hopefully hear some wood frogs too. I will give a full report tomorrow.

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