Monday, March 31, 2014

Big(ish) Night

Salamanders and frogs are starting to move about in the Boston area, and are bringing out lots of people. Last night (Sunday, 3/30/14), conditions were fair to middling for amphibians - it wasn't raining very hard, if at all, there was a bit of a breeze, and temperatures had dropped below the magic 42 deg - but we had plans, so out we went.

I had the pleasure of the company of Mrs. Waldrip's 8th grade science class from Malden's Ferryway School, along with a whole cadre of parents, in addition to a good number of other folks out for the night. All told, we had about 40 people in attendance. I think that outnumbered the salamanders we saw, but sometimes, that's ok. The big win is for a bunch of city kids to go out, close to home, and see the annual spring amphibian migration.

Thanks go to the DCR for arranging a Ranger to be there, and to the Friends of the Fells. ~ MR Burne

Sunday, March 30, 2014


The spots on a spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) are much like our fingerprints - each animal has a unique number and pattern, and it's highly variable. Though rare, or at least uncommon, occasionally spotted salamanders are found that have almost no spots.

It turns out that in one population in eastern Massachusetts, there is a good number of spottless salamanders (would that be A. nonmaculaum?). Every year I turn up at least one at this particular site. This fellow had four very small spots, one of which is visible mid-way down the tail. The others happen to be on the side facing away from the camera.

Hmm. I find at least one at this pool every year. Salamanders live 10 or 12 years in the wild. Hmm... Wonder if I have any pictures of him from last year...

MR Burne

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Under Way 2014

spotted salamander
Spring has sprung! A damp, warm night brought out the first salamanders in the Boston area over night. Pools are still at least partially iced in (and water levels are quite low), but a few intrepid males came out over night to get an early jump on breeding.

Reports of spotted salamanders, blue-spotted salamanders, redbacks, wood frogs, and spring peepers are starting to trickle in from observers around Massachusetts, and the weekend's weather promises to get spring going in a big way.

So we seem to be under way with the great spring amphibian migrations. Get out and enjoy!

MR Burne