Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pond Play with the Frogs

Yesterday we took a walk back to the Vernal Pools at Copeland forest.

We started out on our walk and lasted less then 5 minutes before being bombarded with mosquito's so I ran back to the truck as I thought we had a spray in the glove box (I forgot the natural spray at home). It was a kid friendly spray and it didn't hold the mosquito's off very well at all, but it was all we had.

As always my eyes are wandering as we walk and I am taking pictures of flowers, bugs and bees... this flower must have a brunch special today!

Common Goat's Beard
 This flower below had me stumped for a bit but a quick search led us to figure out it was Cypress Spurge and is listed as a Noxious weed in Ontario and it is mandatory to be destroyed when on or near farmers crops, as well as the Goats Beard above. I am going to look into whether or not it should be destroyed when ever you see it to stop the spread. I found this out while searching for info on Milkweed which has now been removed in Ontario from the Noxious weeds list to help the Monarchs.
Cypress Spurge...I believe?

As we got closer and closer to the Vernal Pools the bugs got heavier. So bad in fact we almost turned around to leave. Then as I was walking I saw this... it wouldn't focus sorry but I thought it was a life saver.
We sprayed ourselves and continued on. The mosquito's were still horrible and bit us even with this spray but it was a helpful at least.

 Already the pool where we found the Eastern Newt Efts last time had completely dried up so it wasn't a true vernal pool and those Efts must have just been feeding there.

There was one pool near by that was full of frogs and polliwogs.

The frogs were quite photogenic today.
The is guy was named Hopper

The tadpoles were plentiful! Shown here around the edge but the whole surface of the pool looked like this.
It didn't take long to get a couple tadpoles in a bucket to observe for a bit.
 There were lots of pond snails too.

Green Frog
 The first catch of the Skipper.

Next was Hoppy.

Then a few pics of "Sally" the Eastern Newt Eft.

We started to pack up to leave and of course there were more flowers calling my name.

Dog Violet?

Herb Robert
 I wonder who lives here? A little mouse, a gnome...?

 This butterfly was very interesting to watch as he sat sunbathing for a moment...The way he held his wings.

I have since learned this is a Hobomok Skipper Thanks to some members of the Brereton Field Naturalists Club in Barrie, Ontario.

We left this pool and found an even bigger pool...this one must be a true Vernal Pool as in the centre it is still quite deep and hopefully will last until August so the the salamanders can develop and make their way out of the water and onto the land.

I'm not sure if this is a bullfrog or not. i think it might be. They are very similar to green frogs but have no ridge down their back on each side. This guy was more rounded and no predominant line.

We found some salamander eggs in this lager pool.

 I found one free floating egg nearby and picked it up to examine it for a moment. You could see the gills.

 Then Sierra spotted a baby Salamander resting on a leaf near the egg sacs. Can you spot him? As well there were many floating pond snails. These snails were fun to watch just float around the pond.

Close up of baby salamander
 There were so many frogs...everywhere you stepped sent a frog off hopping.

Sierra was in heaven here catching frogs with her bare hands this time only to have them hop out and swim away and start all over again.

 So much fun in fact she didn't care when she bent too low and got her feet soaked.

 As Sierra caught frogs and released them (or rather they released themselves)...
I walked around the outer edge of the pool. Since the pool is receding there were clumps of egg left to dry out of the water. Some of them were empty, the frogs or salamanders had already hatched from them but I found about 8 clumps on the dry land which still had salamanders in them. I gently picked them up and put them back in the pool in hopes they will still hatch OK and didn't perish within their sacs on the dry ground. Thankfully the canopy is full above now and there was lots of shade provided so I'm crossing my fingers these will still hatch.

I do hope that putting these sacs back in the water will help them to survive.

After a couple hours here it was time to leave but our discovery didn't end. We continued looking for creatures on our walk and saw all kinds of dragonflies but they are really hard to catch sitting still. I did get this one picture.

 We were amazed when I stopped to take a picture of this little guy...
 and then this beautiful Swallowtail swooped in and landed right in front of us.
Talk about perfect timing. I snapped a couple pictures and she was gone again.

Another amazing afternoon full of so many wonderful discoveries. I love our days out exploring and learning about our natural world.

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