Cheryl Harner's Flora and Butterfly Blog
Weedpicker's Journal: Discover the native plants of Ohio and the butterflies that utilize them.
Riders on the Storm March 20, 2008
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This has got to be my favorite time of year; spring is about to burst open. With the willows showing the first signs of green, the Yellow-throated "sycamore" Warblers will soon be on their way, even before most of the deciduous trees have re-leafed.

Bring on the rain, torrential downpours that clear away the dirt-laden snowbanks or drizzling haze on warming nights. The slap of windshield-wipers and the Doors on the radio, and well, I am feeling 18 again. :)

A misting rain accompanied GMAS's Woodcock walk Tuesday night, making for a damp but non-the-less productive evening, as several birds performed their flight displays, much to their audience's admiration. And as good as that was, the ride home got even better.

Thanks to the keen eyes of my "salamander spotter" we did not crush this Smallmouth Salamander as he crossed the road. Like some primordial beast, 'manders crawl out of the ground on the earliest of warm, wet spring nights to drag themselves to a love-fest, the likes that would make Jim Morrison himself proud. :)

Oblivious to everything, these guys and gals will cross ravines, roads and all obstacles man has placed in the way of their million-year march to vernal pools, to meet for some sweet salamander "spermatophore swapping". After they mate and lay eggs they will return to back to the ground from which they sprung.

The mysteries surrounding salamanders make them even more fascinating. What do they eat while underground those many months? If more people were aware of these early spring "riders on the storm," perhaps we could protect their vernal pools from the urbanization swallowing up their breeding grounds. Salamanders are fixated on the location of their early development, having fidelity (if not to a mate) to their vernal pool. I have heard sad stories of them returning to an area which has been developed into suburban housing, only to crawl into dry window-wells and perish.

Let's get the word out about vernal pools and protecting the fascinating creatures that inhabit them, especially the ones out on warm spring nights!

2008-03-20 11:17:11 GMT
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