We are between rain storms and last night’s was a whopper and I’m willing to take the blame because like I wish for snow, so was I wishing for rain. After all, there are vernal pools to tend to and since the mamas and papas have all either hopped or crawled out and headed back to their upland habitat, someone has to watch over the young’uns.
I’ve accepted the responsibility, knowing full well that there will be heartbreak in a month or two, but with the hope that a few days of rain might fill the pools for now to give frog and salamander embryos a chance to grow and emerge and feed and grow some more.
And so as the sun shone in the midst of major flooding, I stood sentry and took note of my various wards.
My peeps include the larval and pupal forms of mosquitoes because they do, after all, play an important part in the food web, especially in the ephemeral pool where my kids need food. And later, my other young’uns who emerge as dragonflies and damselflies will also benefit from dining on such biting insects. Birds, too, will find nourishment with these tiny morsels. And so, when I go pond dipping with others, I always encourage them to return the mosquito-ridden water back to the pool rather than following their instinct to pour them onto the ground and let them dry out and die in an attempt to keep the population down.
With focused attention today, I watched as the bubble-butts also drew attention, for Predacious Diving Beetles, who head to the surface to trap oxygen-filled air between their wings and body, prolonging their time under water. and thus can stay under for long periods of time, were chasing after each other, thus extending their need to stay below for some canoodling efforts.
At last I reached my babes, some of them still forming within their bubble-shaped egg sacs. Wood Frogs will these become. In time.
Older siblings hung out on the leaves that form the pool’s lining, their diminutive tadpole size contrasted by the background of a Northern Red Oak leaf.
As was to be expected, my Spotted Salamander tykes have yet to emerge as they grow stronger within their gelatinous matrix. It always strikes me as being impenetrable, but is it?
Right now, however, the most prolific members of the pool appear to be the half-inch Midges, who swim on the water’s surface, and skitter and fly about on leaves and any other vegetation.
Click on the arrow and watch these crazy little, non-biting flies. One of my favorite posts from last year was Midges I Have Known. And I’ve known a few. In case you are wondering, she still shares a room with us.
As I stood silently guarding my little friends of many, a surprising event occurred. The local Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes its presence known each time I am out there. But today, today was bath day.
And I had the good fortune to be standing on a rock across the way, hidden by branches that create the blurry effect, serving as a bit of a bird blind, while the woodpecker splashed about.
I could not believe my good fortune to spend time with this male making himself more handsome by the moment.
His splashes, mixed with today’s breeze, created ripples that sometimes distorted my view of Wood Frog egg masses, but at the same time created a work of art I can only imagine my friend Jessie painting.
It is my job to keep an eye on the nursery and it’s a job I am honored to hold.
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