Tag Archives: wood frog

The Race is On!

By Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for April 6-12, 2019

Near the vernal pools on the east campus (the one along the wide woods path is best), or in the Fitzgerald Lake area on the north campus, you’ll hear a loud quacking.  That’s male wood frogs, calling for a mate, but it’s also the starting gun for a desperate race.

The wood frogs have been hunkered down in the nearby woods all winter, parts of their bodies frozen, their vital functions kept alive by antifreeze chemicals.   Before hibernating, they got fat and produced eggs and sperm in their bodies.  Very little of that fat was used in their frozen winter state, so now they’re fit.  They don’t need to eat until their insect food emerges later, and they already have mature eggs and sperm in their bodies, so they have one thing on their mind—mating!  They race to the vernal pool where they were born.   The Continue reading The Race is On!


New Discoveries at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of April 14-10

We humans at Lathrop might be a bit like Christopher Columbus, claiming to “discover” something, when lots of creatures knew it was there all along.  But, led by the distinctive “quacking” of mating wood frogs, we’ve “discovered” two vernal pools on the east campus (in addition to the ones already identified on trail maps for east campus and Fitzgerald Lake: https://lathropland.wordpress.com/trail-map-easthampton/)

Wood frogs can live ONLY in vernal pools, which dry up periodically and thus have no fish to eat the wood frog eggs. (Sounds, photos, and information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF0DZ8TQBd8.)

Columbus reported his discovery to his queen.  We will register our vernal pools with the state, which protects these increasingly rare habitats. Continue reading New Discoveries at Lathrop

Giving Thanks at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Nov. 24 – Dec. 1, 2017

At Thanksgiving feasts, family members sometimes take turns saying what they’re thankful for.  So I asked our Lathrop family of creatures:

A chickadee:  Thanks for putting in native plants near the Inn and in some cottage gardens.   I need about 6,000 insects, mostly caterpillars, to raise my brood next spring. I expect you’ve read the scientific findings that I know from experience: the native plants in your gardens will provide many more caterpillars than the old alien plants did.

A hawk:  Thanks for not mowing our Lathrop meadows until late autumn.  When you used to mow in mid-summer, you destroyed the cover for mice, voles, and other creatures that I needed to build up Continue reading Giving Thanks at Lathrop

Lathrop’s Quiet Vernal Pools

by Barbara Walvoord

First Printed in Lathrop Lamp Post, Nov.  18-24, 2017

Last spring, our vernal pools were jumping with visible life.  Mating wood frogs quacked in a loud chorus.   On rainy nights, salamanders paraded en masse to the pools from their woodland borrows and rockpiles. New-hatched fairy shrimp darted about in the water. Later, tadpoles and baby salamanders popped out feet and developed lungs. Predators circled–turtles, snakes, owls.

All that springtime life and movement is a race against time, because, at least every few years, vernal pools, by definition, dry up in summer, creating an environment free of the fish that would otherwise eat the eggs of vernal pool creatures.  Fish-free is good, BUT–the creatures have to adapt to the summertime drying and wintertime freezing of the pool.  Fairy shrimp lay eggs that stay in Continue reading Lathrop’s Quiet Vernal Pools