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Amphibians on the move


Over the past few weeks, you may have seen notices in social media and newspapers (including The River Reporter) regarding certain roads being closed down some nights in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation

Wood frogs can be heard around this time, but their breeding season is very quick, and you may only hear them at a particular pond for a few days. Unlike many frogs, wood frogs spend their non-breeding time away from ponds; they are usually found in shaded forest areas during the summer. They have a quack-like sounding call, but they will stop if you get too close. Stay still for a few minutes and they will resume calling.

Area due to migrating amphibians. With the arrival of spring, the first amphibians are starting to emerge, making themselves heard and seen.

River Road at the national park headquarters will be closed on rainy, mild nights (temperatures 50 degrees or above) for the next few weeks. These conditions are conducive for salamanders and frogs to move to breeding areas. At night, they are largely protected from predators, but they are vulnerable to vehicles when crossing roads.

Many other areas in the region may see an influx of amphibians, especially at night. Find a quiet road with some wetland habitat nearby and wait for a mild rainy night. Of course, these animals can be found off the road, they are just easier to spot on the road. If you pursue this activity, bring a flashlight and be careful of any vehicular traffic.

The northern red salamander is hard to miss with its striking red color. It favors cold streams and seeps, but spends a lot of time foraging on land, especially at night. Both the northern spring salamander and the northern red salamander breed in late summer and autumn; the young hatch into larval stage and live in a small stream for two to three years before reaching adulthood.

In many areas, you don’t even have to see amphibians to find out where they are. The earliest emerging frogs are vocal, loud and clear during breeding season. Spring peepers are usually heard first (www.bit.ly/springpeepersTRR), and they are followed closely by breeding wood frogs (www.bit.ly/woodfrogTRR). Both are found in wetland habitats during breeding season, but spring peepers are more widespread, taking advantage of smaller wetland areas with standing water. The wood frogs prefer pond environments; vernal ponds are a good place to listen. In a few ponds, you will hear both species at the same time.

Whenever I hear these creatures sing, I know that spring is truly here. Enjoy!


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