By Joe Sebastiani, Ashland Nature Center Manager
In these not-so-wintry days with temperatures in the high 60’s, you are the only creature fooled into thinking it is spring. Plenty of plants, and an abundance of animals are responding as though it is April. During a walk at Ashland today, with 68 degree heat, I noticed some things that weren’t showing themselves this time last year. The most exciting show at Ashland right now is the emergence of Wood Frogs. Get out to Ashland within the week if you want to catch the action. As I write this, the sound of the male’s “quacking” is percolating through my open window along with a warm breeze. Listen to the short audio clip of the Wood Frogs calling from a small pond next to the Ashland Nature Center.
Wood Frogs lay clumps of eggs that will soak up water after they are laid. The ones below my hand are newer than the ones on my hand. Can you see the difference?
A walk along the floodplain at Ashland Nature Center revealed several plants beginning their growth cycle for the year. Several are non-native, invasive plants, but others are native. The warm weather is giving these plants an early start this year, but it isn’t completely unusual.
One of the early signs of spring I have NOT noticed yet is the Groundhog. My guess is that during this early warm spell, they have decided not to show their faces, after predicting we would have six more weeks of winter. WRONG!!
Finally, the insects are also out and about. I have seen Anglewing butterflies, true flies, a dragonfly, and many smaller, unidentifiable forms buzzing around lately. The prize in this category, however, goes to the inch-long larvae of one of our firefly species that we found crawling on Ash trees. We found dozens of them, and watched as they scampered around the trunks, looking for smaller insect to eat.