Last weekend, I went to a program at Stratford Ecological Center on vernal pools. Vernal pools are ponds that form in late Winter/early Spring from all the rainwater, snow melt & groundwater there is this time of year. They hold a wide variety of life & are very important habitats of amphibians such as frogs and salamanders. Since there are no fish, these creatures do quite well in the vernal pools. The program was organized by the Ohio Environmental Council, a really great organization that advocates for Ohio's environment. Thank you, OEC!
I went to this program hoping to learn more about salamanders. I really don't know much about them & I have never seen one in the wild. They are very shy, elusive critters that are nocturnal. Many types of salamanders only come out of their burrowing location in the Spring to mate. The night before the program was a big "migration" night for the salamanders. Traps were set that night & so we had a big bucket full of salamanders to greet us as we entered the meeting room:
It's hard to tell how many there were in the container, 40 or so maybe? They were constantly moving around & trying to climb up the sides, crawling all over each other. These are the spotted salamander, one of two types found at Stratford (the other being the small-mouthed salamander).
We learned all about the amphibians, invertebrates & plants that call vernal pools their home. The highlight of the day was a trip out to one of Stratford's vernal pools. Well before the group reached the vernal pool, you could hear the frogs! A loud chorus of spring peepers & wood frogs drowned out all the other sounds of nature. At the pond, sometimes I couldn't hear our guide because the frogs were being so loud! I didn't see any of the frogs, but another group at the vernal pool had more luck:
Look closely, you'll see two of them! It's amazing that something so tiny can make such a big noise (I recall my DH & I saying the same thing about our Bachsters when they were newborns)!
Our guide was able to catch a salamander that was hiding at the bottom of the vernal pool. He put it on a log so that we could all get a better look at it:
Unfortunately, I had the wrong lens for the job. But it was exciting to see a salamander in its natural surroundings. I learned so much about these little creatures & their habitats that day. Thanks OEC & Stratford! If you're ever in the Delaware, Ohio area, check out Stratford - they have lots of neat programs for families. I hope to go back with the Bachsters later this season, or maybe in the summer. Maybe we'll get lucky & even spot a salamander!