Amphibian Migration Alert

Posted on: March 10th, 2016 by Leslie_Zucker

In the spring 2015 edi­tion of Eso­pus Creek News we fea­tured frogs and toads that use stream cor­ri­dors of the Ashokan Water­shed. Frogs and sala­man­ders are set to migrate to their breed­ing pools in wood­ed and wet areas on the next warm, rainy night. Here is more infor­ma­tion about what to expect from the NYSDEC Hud­son Riv­er Estu­ary Pro­gram and Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty:

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How sud­den­ly they awake! Yes­ter­day, as it were, asleep and dor­mant, today as live­ly as ever they are. The awak­en­ing of the leafy wood­land pools.
— Hen­ry David Thore­au

There seems lit­tle doubt that after the record-break­ing warm tem­per­a­tures this week, the next rainy night will entice wood frogs, spot­ted sala­man­ders, and Jef­fer­son-blue spot­ted sala­man­ders out from their over­win­ter­ing sites to wood­land pools for breed­ing. And if the fore­cast holds, it looks like tonight may indeed be a “Big Night!”

You may recall that in some past years, it’s been more dif­fi­cult to pre­dict the migra­tion. We’ve had unusu­al­ly dry sea­sons with delayed rain­fall, or con­sid­er­able vari­abil­i­ty in ice and snow cov­er in dif­fer­ent parts of the estu­ary water­shed. (Last year this time, most of the pools were still frozen!) When suit­able con­di­tions aren’t quite right, we often observe a more dif­fuse migra­tion, with sev­er­al “small” or “medi­um” migra­tion nights, or tim­ing dif­fer­ences in the south­ern and north­ern lim­its of the water­shed.

But after this unusu­al warm spell, it seems like­ly that migra­tions will occur through­out the region with the next night­time rain. Accord­ing to the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice, there was a record high tem­per­a­ture of 81F set in Albany yes­ter­day, 82F in Pough­keep­sie, and 77F in Cen­tral Park. If the rain starts this after­noon, and con­tin­ues after dark­ness and tem­per­a­tures remain above 40F, we should see lots of migra­tion activ­i­ty. Very excit­ing!

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