Salamanders have once again been stimulated into a flurry of egg laying activity at Blue Jay Barrens. This has been an odd weather year that presented the salamanders with limited opportunities to safely travel overland to their breeding pools. A light rain on January 3 brought in the first of the Jefferson Salamanders, but no egglaying activity was noticed. A storm on February 1 gave us a third of an inch of rain and Streamside Salamanders joined Jeffersons in the pond. Water level was still very low and only a few egg clusters were produced. The pond quickly iced over. Snow then covered the ice and the pond remained hidden from view for nearly a month.
Finally, over two inches of rain fell during a 24 hour event beginning March 3 and ending March 4. The pond filled and salamander breeding resumed.
Following the rain, fresh Jefferson Salamander eggs appeared on twigs throughout the pond.
The rain fell on soil that was already saturated by snow meltwater, so nearly the entire two inches moved overland to the creeks. This carried numerous sticks and other debris that entered the pond and was used by the salamanders as an anchor for their egg masses. Now these loose batches of eggs are being driven by the wind and are in danger of being left high on the shore as the pond water level slowly drops. I make periodic circuits of the pond to relocate eggs in danger.
I found a couple of Jefferson Salamanders out of the water and heading away from the pond. Some of these guys have been in the pond for over ten weeks, so I guess it’s about time for them to be getting back to their underground burrows.
The Streamside Salamanders also got busy laying their eggs. Streamsides attach their eggs on the underside of submerged objects such as rocks and boards.
Instead of being contained as a group within a mass of jelly, Streamside Salamander eggs are individually attached.
Wood Frogs also emerged with the warm rain. They have spent the past several days producing large egg masses.
A few frogs and salamanders took advantage of the branches hanging below my floating jug and attached their eggs to this safe location. Weather conditions made it impossible for me to float the branches prior to the arrival of the breeding amphibians, so my success in keeping the eggs safe from fluctuating water level was not nearly as successful as last year.
Many of the eggs were laid near the shoreline where a falling water level could leave them hanging in the air. If our spring rainfall is less than normal, I’ll just have to relocate all of these egg clusters to deeper water.