Last night, I was delighted to witness a fairly large-scale movement of Spotted Salamanders, mostly occurring in the wee hours of the morning. It’s April 5 here in upstate New York. Most years, the spotties would be done by now.
After dark, I met up with my friend Bill Wallauer and we checked out several locations near Syracuse, N.Y. One high elevation spot was cold and snowy; the weather was miserable and no salamanders were found. Next we went to a location at a lower elevation and found a number of Spotted Salamanders (and some Jefferson sallies) crossing a blacktop road, heading for woodland pools. The temperature dropped into the high 30s.
My most important catch of the night, however, occurred when I drove back to Ithaca, N.Y (my hometown). In the wee hours of the morning, I discovered spotties moving in masse to a swampy area on the Cornell University golf course. Then, at around 2:30am, I was fortunate to find a “congress” or “mating frenzy,” as I call it. The water was fairly clear. As you can see from the video, I got some pretty nice material.
I was disappointed, however, in that I didn’t get much underwater footage (most of the footage in the video was taken from above the water, looking down). When I placed my camcorder underwater in a waterproof housing and lowered it into the water, the salamanders were disturbed and quickly took cover. So I only got a couple of rather brief segments.
I plan to go back to the same location tonight, in hopes of getting better underwater footage. But the temperature dropped today, into the low 30s, and it will be below freezing tonight. So I doubt if I’ll find anything going on. Have all the spotties mated at the Golf Course swamp? Maybe or maybe not. I’ll keep an eye out and let you know what happens.
EVENING UPDATE! Night of the 5th. Plenty of sallies in the pools and over a dozen “fields of spermataphores” from wee-early-morning dances, but no mating frenzies tonight. Is it over? I think not. Rain sometime next week may flush-in new individuals (esp. more females) and hopefully stir the males back into action. I sorely want another crack at it!
Go Here for NatureWatch profile for the Spotted Salamander.