Sunday Gratitude: Biggish Night

On Monday night at Caucus, I received a text message that said “it might be big night–want to meet up?” And while some of you much younger than I am might think this would be a Tinder moment (or tender?) it actually was my friend Michele who is the Conservation Director in Lincoln. The text was because the rainy warmish night meant that the amphibians might be on the move from uplands to vernal pools. It was time to head out and help the hoppies and crawlies across the busy roads.

We met (Michele’s husband Josh came along) at an undisclosed location on the far north side. On my way there, I avoided two frogs on Concord Road and one on Conant–all hip-hopping for their very lives. I arrived before Michele at the meeting spot and walked up the wet asphalt with my flashlight (and reflective clothes–I do not want to be squished either). Soon enough, the beam picked out a brown wood frog stopped on the road. He seemed unwilling to hop along so I wet my hand in a puddle, and helped him to the side of the road where he was hopping–his belly was so very cold in my hand. There was still snow at the side of the road.

When Michele and Josh joined me, we walked slowly up the street in the darkness, with just three beams of light. Suddenly Michele grabbed my arm and urgently whisper-shouted “stop”! And I was about two steps from squashing a spotted salamander, tiny, blending into the asphalt. The salamander was stopped in the middle of the road, so was moved in the direction s/he was heading.

Salamanders blend into asphalt

We found two more salamanders–one almost five inches long–a couple more wood frogs, and finally a peeper, so very tiny, and then more peepers. As we returned to our cars, a wood frog was hiding by a wheel, perhaps warming itself under the engine. Josh made sure it was free of my tires before I turned for home.

Teeny tiny peeper (cannot tell scale here)

While we saw a number of amphibians on Monday, it is questionable whether it was really “Big Night” or the biggest migration night. Be aware that a warmish wet evening in the next week will spring more of these little guys from their winter napping. And once the mating is done in the vernal pools, they will hippity-hop and slither back to the uplands. Drive carefully.

My Sunday gratitude is twofold–one for living among wildlife here in Weston. And second, for having friends who think it perfectly normal to go out and help amphibians cross the road to get to the other side.


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