The spring peepers have been active for weeks now, but there were many days this past week when they peeped during the day as well as in the night. As the weather has warmed they have ceased their work in the day and their night chorus is deafening. We have done some experimenting to see what makes them quiet down the quickest. We mostly believed that it was noise, but after we tried being loud and yelling, they only quieted a little. One of my research assistants tried jumping up and down on the ground and the peepers stopped their peeping completely for a while. The “plip, plips” that we heard in the pond last week as the small frogs hopped out of sight beneath the bent, tan-colored cattail leaves of last summer that line the edge of the pond, have turned into “plop, plops” as the larger frogs have emerged from their winter abodes beneath the mud at the bottom of the pond. By the end of the week the clear get that holds the frog eggs together was completely gone. As the week progressed, we watched it deteriorate. We are concerned that algea blooms in the ponds may be a sign of pollution and that it might be effecting the eggs. At one point we decided to poke the egg masses with a stick to be sure that the tiny tadpoles were alive. Upon being poked, some of the comma-shaped tadpoles wriggled their tiny, shiny, black bodies and drifted slowly toward the bottom of the pond. They were all very much alive!
One morning as I sat observing the pond, I heard the low drone of many buzzing bees. I noticed that a willow tree at the pond’s edge was being visited by around twenty or more bumblebees. I did some research and found out that the bees were getting nectar from the emerging catkins on the branches. It turns out that willow trees are an important early source of food for bumblebees.
Although we can’t see the nest, we think that the baby crows have hatched. The constant evening chatter that comes from the nest seems to be being made by more than one or two birds. We have observed the adult crows bothering the grackle nest. At first I thought the crow was probably just trying to steal the eggs from the nest because I have seen it steal eggs from my chicken coup, but I found out that crows will eat baby birds. We also noticed a new bird in the woods this week. The hermit-thrush. The song of the hermit-thrush is my favorite. A sing-songy, flute-like melody.
I am wondering how the evening frog chorus will change this coming week as different types of frogs have become active. I am also wondering if cattail shoots will start to emerge along the edge of the pond. I know that they are growing underneath the water, as I have observed them in shallow wet areas near the pond, but they have yet to have grown tall enough to be seen above the surface.