Amphibians and Timberdoodling – Shades State Park – March 12, 2016
Andrew Hoffman, Naturalist for Shades and Turkey Run State Park was leading an Amphibian Hike at Shades Saturday evening. There were about 20 people maybe and a dozen or so were grade school age – very talkative grade school age! But they were fairly knowledgeable and very enthusiastic. We went east of the Gatehouse towards a vernal wetlands area that Andrew was monitoring for frogs. He said this wetland would be dry by the summer as they trees wouldn’t be growing there if they were inundated by water year round.
He told us about the biphasic lives of amphibians and talked about what they ate and at what stage they ate it. He also said amphibians have thin skins so they prefer wet, cool weather and were good environmental indicators because of this.
He said the salamander is the most abundant predator in the woods. The grade-schoolers had a hard time believing this since many had never seen one.
Andrew had minnow traps he had already set out and he walked out in the water to retrieve them and see what we could find. Most of them had a burrowing crawfish in them. Most were females with eggs. He also pointed out frog egg masses in the water.
Frogs for the evening:
- Wood frog
- Chorus frog
- Spring Peeper
The sounds were deafening and it is hard to imagine a frog no larger than a quarter can cause that loud of a sound.
We also heard and spooked a wood duck pair off the wetlands. They nest there in the wet area. We were fortunate to see a bald eagle flow over also.
After we walked back to a wetland next to the road, we all became frog hunters and passed what we found around to see the differences between the species.
That was the end of our amphibian hike. I learned a lot from Andrew. This is the second hike I’ve taken with him and the third time talking to him. He is a very knowledgeable young man and has a passion for nature and the ability to infect others with the passion for learning.
He said he would be around if anyone wanted to go Timberdoodling, which I was glad since the Friends of TRSSP had postponed the Timberdoodle Hike until next week due to possible rain.
Most of the people left, but a dad and his two grade school daughters and I and my daughter joined us later. We were able to hear the American Woodcock calling and whistling, but the girls were a little loud and didn’t get to see them this year. We also heard a Great Horned Owl calling.
Birds for the evening:
- Wood Duck
- Bald Eagle
- American Woodcock
- Great Horned Owl