Few clouds, light snow
Few clouds, light snow
24.8 °F
December 10, 2017
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Early spring cold-blooded critters make their appearance

This wood frog (above) was found in a vernal pond in Tusten, NY that was still half covered with ice. The breeding period for wood frogs lasts only a couple of weeks, and then the frogs disperse away from the pond. To hear some wood frog calls, go to twcwc.com/sounds/woodfrog.wav
TRR photos by Scott Rando

April 29, 2015

As I stabilize my kayak by grabbing an underwater branch to keep from spooking some basking painted turtles on the shore, one thing is readily apparent: the water is cold, numbingly cold. Someone falling overboard would be in real danger of being overcome by the effects of hypothermia if they didn’t exit the water quickly. But the turtles didn’t seem to be affected by the cold water, though they spend a lot of time basking in the sun this time of year in order to regulate their body temperature.

Cold water or not, this is the time when the early-season reptiles and amphibians emerge. The loud chorus of spring peepers in wetlands are made by thousands of tiny frogs that are easy to hear but not see. Wood frogs are also making their share of song; the males are calling for females with a call that resembles a quack or a chuckle. Many wood frogs start their courtship on vernal ponds still half covered with ice.

The images in this week’s column show a few of the early-bird, cold-blooded critters that can be seen or heard, and when you listen to those spring peepers, know that they herald the arrival of spring’s warmth.