Winter is holding us in its grip longer than usual this year. But the trees are budding, the maple sap collection has stopped, birds are chirping, and the frogs are returning to the ponds at Oregon Ridge for their annual mating.
Frogs are amphibians – they live part of their life on land and part in the water. Frogs hibernated during the winter under moss and leaf litter. They return to ponds and other moist areas in the spring to mate and lay their eggs in water. The adults will leave the pond and move back into the woodland. The eggs remain in the water to develop into tadpoles, eventually becoming adults.
This pond, topped with a layer of ice at the beginning of the week, will soon hold thousands of frog eggs:
A wood frog, caught (and released) last week-end at a vernal pool along the Gunpowder River in northern Baltimore County:
Are there more frogs this year, or less? Like with all of our wildlife, we are questioning the impact of loss of habitat and climate change on population.
2014 is the last year of a five-year program to document all of the frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles, lizards, and snakes in Maryland. This is a joint project by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and The Natural History Society of Maryland and is named MARA – the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas. Documenting sightings provides historical information as well as context to develop strategies around conservation. The project sounds ambitious but relies on individuals like you and me noticing amphibians and reptiles while outdoors and then letting MARA know what we saw. If you’re interested in submitting sightings, more information is here: http://marylandnaturalist.org/how-to-get-involved-with-mara/
Are the peepers and wood frogs calling later this year because of the long winter?