A Day in the Life….Part 12

Wahkeena is now singing with the sounds of spring. The Spring Peepers are peeping, the Wood Frogs are clucking, and the Eastern Phoebes have announced their return, reciting their name: “fee-be”, “fee-be”. The Barred Owls are unusually noisy now. The lone owl who has been courting our captive owl has now been joined by other wild owls. And the “who cooks for you” calls are coming from all directions and can be heard throughout the daylight hours as well as all night. The Red-shouldered Hawks are likewise screaming their call. And a male has been visiting our captive Red-shouldered’s enclosure. Love is definitely in the air… on the land and also in the water!

Wood Frog Egg Mass

Here is a picture of an egg mass deposited by one Wood Frog. Notice how the eggs are clustered together like a bunch of grapes. Wood Frogs like to lay their egg masses in vernal pools and other shallow water areas that are devoid of large predators like fish.

Spotted Salamanders also seek out the same type of breeding areas as the Wood Frogs. But you won’t hear salamanders as they make no mating call. Some “early birds” have already mated and laid eggs, but it looks like this Wednesday night is likely to be the major migration event when the bulk of the Spotted Salamander population will be moving to the breeding pools.

Spotted Salamander Egg Mass

 Noticed that the salamander egg mass above has a smoother envelope encasing the embryos as opposed to the bubbly nature of the Wood Frog egg mass. Note too that the salamander embryos are larger.

In contrast, not much has happened with the plants. The catkins (male flowers) on the alders are slowly opening and some of the large trees are showing hints of flower color high in their tops. But no new wildflowers yet. We did see numerous rosettes of Garlic Mustard leaves on our hike yesterday, but that is one wildflower that we would rather NOT see!

Common Alder Catkins

Wood Ducks and Mallards have returned and there was also a pair of Blue-winged Teals on the pond yesterday. And Great Blue Heron today.

Beautiful warm day yesterday…beautiful cold day today…ah Spring!

P.S. Finally! I found a new blooming wildflower today. It was tightly closed this morning, but is now open all over the lawn in front of the nature center.

This tiny flower is aptly named Small-flowered Bitter Cress

Posted by Tom
With special thanks to semi-professional hand model, Nora Steele.

Please Note: We do have a new feature on the blog, at the top of the page you will notice a ‘Bird Sightings’ and ‘Wildflower Bloom List.’ We will update these throughout the season as more species return to the preserve! 

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