Goodbye snow, hello coltsfoot, and where the hell are the wood frogs?

coltsfoot After a week-long return to winter-like snow and cold, spring is back on track. Warm weather on Sunday brought out the first coltsfoots (coltsfeet?) and crucuses (croci?) as the last patch of snow dwindled on the north side of the spruce grove. Both flowers are non-native; the crocus planted, and the coltsfoot presumably self-seeded. The coltsfoot is thus the first wildflower to bloom here, and has been so every year since we began keeping records in 1972. The other interesting thing about it is that it has never spread any farther than the 100-foot-long stretch of our gravel driveway and the adjacent ditch down below the old corrall. Not all alien plants are invasive in their habits!

There’s no sign of wood frogs yet, which is extremely odd. Their numbers have declined sharply over the last ten years, and this year there may be no more. Last year we found a number of egg masses in the vernal ponds up at the top of the watershed, but the tadpoles all perished when the ponds dried up in early June. The tiny “pond” in the lower corner of the field, meanwhile, seems to have been occupied by red-spotted newts, which are presumably the main reason why wood frog numbers have plummeted there (the venal ponds never were reliable). If so, it’s our own fault for deepening that “pond” several times over the years so that it wouldn’t dry up in late summer. Year-round water means habitat for things that eat wood frog eggs, such as newts. In other words, wood frogs need pools that are ephemeral, but not too ephemeral.

UPDATE (March 28): One wood frog is calling down in the corner of the field this morning.



About Dave Bonta

I'm the author of several books of poetry, including Ice Mountain: An Elegy, Breakdown: Banjo Poems, and Odes to Tools, but my real work is at my long-running literary blog Via Negativa, where I'm currently creating erasure poems from every entry of the Diary of Samuel Pepys. I'm also the editor and publisher of Moving Poems, a blog showcasing the best poetry videos on the web.

Posted on March 27, 2007, in coltsfoot, spring arrivals, wood frogs. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It seems wood frogs are a bit demanding, don’t you think?

  2. Yes, but they’re highly cute, so they get away it.

  1. Pingback: Via Negativa » Blog Archive » Silver linings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s