Last Saturday, May 2, 2015, Friends of Algonquin Park put on a workshop titled “March of the Salamanders”. The timing was perfect and the salamanders did march. Kevin Clute, David Legros and Damian led us on the perfect evening – not too warm, not too cool, dry, moonlit, no bugs and lots of salamanders. There were 12 participants.
The workshop began with a very informative presentation in the theatre at the Visitor Centre. We learned lots of amazing things about Spotted (the yellow spotted ones) and the Blue Spotted Salamanders. For instance they have been known to live up to 35 years!
Research began in 2008 at Bat Lake which has some interesting characteristics. The water in Bat Lake is more acidic than it was previously thought that salamanders could breed. Breed they do and around 4000 are caught and recorded every spring. Their egg masses, clear in other breeding pools, are completely cloudy white in Bat Lake. The small vernal pool on my property hosts approximately 35 to 45 salamanders.
Our outing included a visit to a vernal pool where about 18 wood frog egg masses were found. We saw and heard wood frogs and spring peepers singing and saw the predated bodies of a Blue Spotted Salamander and a couple of wood frogs. Another creature seen was the predaceous diving beetle. These large insects are known to give a person quite a bite.
About 9 pm we began our trek to Bat Lake and found numerous salamanders headed there too. My goal was to photograph the Blue Spotted Salamanders.
The path into the lake still had areas of packed snow and I hoped to find a salamander crossing that area but discovered that the salamanders were being picked up and were getting a lift to the lake.
About half an hour after we arrived at Bat Lake we discovered a mating frenzy of Spotted Salamanders right at the shoreline. It seemed like there were between 18 to 24 individuals involved. That was the icing on the cake! We had seen the salamanders march and then we saw them dance. Couldn’t have been better!
Unfortunately I took many pictures of the frenzy but my flash wasn’t working so they are all very noisy. At any rate the workshop was a very satisfying experience that I would like to repeat.
The Bat Lake Trail publication and the Amphibians and Reptiles of Algonquin Park are two resources available for information.
Please note that all images in this and every one of my blogs are the sole property and copyrighted by the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any purpose without written permission.