Egg masses deposited by a female wood frog in a vernal pool. Soon these jelly clusters will begin hatching into hundreds of tadpoles and undergo the transformational process called metamorphosis. Click on photo to enlarge.

The spring months in New England are a great time to get out and explore the preserves and forested open spaces in your communities. In doing so, be sure to keep an eye out… or more importantly an ear out for emerging wildlife. These warming months are a time when many local species are becoming active after a long dormant period. Several of these animals are ready to make noise to attract a mate. During your forest explorations, you may hear a symphony of loud “peeps” belonging to a small frog called the Spring Peeper. For more on the Spring Peeper listen to this very funny 2014 WATD Award-Winning interview with our scientist Sara Grady. Or maybe you hear the “chirping” sound of a Wood Frog, a medium-sized terrestrial frog common to wet forested areas of New England. Once you are drawn in by these animal’s sounds, you are likely to be within sight of a wetland. Many of our common amphibians are found in and around wetlands. Wetlands provide essential habitat for breeding. If you find an area with standing water, look closely and you may spot cloudy clumps or jelly-like sacks. These are probably egg masses of a resident amphibian! This is just another reminder of the importance of water to our ecosystem. Even the small, and often overlooked species play a key role in the web of life. So as you explore this spring, keep an eye and ear out! You never know what you may find, even in the most unsuspecting of places.

Click on the arrow below to see Brian’s Mini Hike in the Spring Wetlands.

Notable places to visit Vernal Pools:

Willow Brook Farm Preserve in Pembroke. Shortly after entering this Wildlands Trust property, the path will take you along a certified Vernal pool. During spring, look for skunk cabbage and listen for the chorus of frogs.

Lehner Conservation Area in Hingham. This property owned by the Town of Hingham has some very wet sections. As the trail progresses you will come across several wetland areas, one of which is a certified vernal pool.

Webster’s Wilderness in Marshfield. After completing nearly half of the outer loop, the trail will begin to turn south, keep looking and listening east and you might catch a glimpse of a hidden vernal pool.

Listen to the award-winning short interview “Love is In the Air” about the Spring Peepers with MassBays South Shore Regional Coordinator and NSRWA Watershed Ecologist Sara Grady.