river talk

Walk in the wetlands

By SCOTT RANDO
Posted 5/5/20

So far this spring, I’ve taken several hikes on public lands to do a little winding down but also to find more species for the PA Reptile and Amphibian Survey (PARS), a project that has been …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
river talk

Walk in the wetlands

Posted

So far this spring, I’ve taken several hikes on public lands to do a little winding down but also to find more species for the PA Reptile and Amphibian Survey (PARS), a project that has been ongoing on since 2013. With this aim in mind, I made my way to an interesting looking pond on Department of Conservation & Natural Resources lands in the central portion of Pike County, PA.

On arrival, I found the trail that would take me to the pond. I got barely 200 yards down the trail when I found a small vernal pond, about 25 feet wide. Vernal ponds are always worth checking out in the spring as there is usually a wide assortment of early emerging amphibians utilizing these ponds in order to breed. Usually, you hear these ponds before you see them by a number of wood frogs and spring peepers calling for mates. This morning, though, there were no frogs calling. I did see evidence that much quieter amphibians utilized this vernal pond to propagate its species. The white egg mass of a spotted salamander was seen in the water; they resemble a couple of white cotton balls that are stuck together.

On my way to the larger pond I was able to see on the map, I started hearing red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese and spring peepers among other things; the sounds told me I was getting close to a wetland environment. On arriving, I found that the pond, at one time, was just a small stream. Beavers had arrived and built a series of dams that flooded the coniferous trees that were close to the creek. The trees died over the following years, creating a good woodpecker habitat; I heard several species drumming. There were wood ducks also present, using unused woodpecker cavities for their own nesting cavities.

On the way back to the trailhead, I found yet another vernal pond that had some wood frog egg masses present and a couple of tiny wood frog tadpoles. I heard a noise to my left and there was a porcupine at the base of a tree. It decided to keep its “social distance” and started to climb the tree, something they do a lot to escape predators.

With seven species of amphibians seen, countless bird species and my quill covered friend, it was a very nice day for a walk in the wetlands. For more information on PARS and how you can get involved with this citizen science project, visit www.paherpsurvey.org.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment