The Perilous Passage to Polliwog Paradise

We were wondering recently about the breeding success rate of amphibians in PPL’s Susquehanna Riverlands. So one afternoon we decided to find out for ourselves and planned a hike into the Wetlands Nature Area. 

In our wake, we left behind the comfortable, well-manicured trails we maintain for visitors and headed for a remote cluster of vernal pools.  We carefully picked our way through the rapidly thickening spring vegetation, swatting away the swarms of mosquitoes and keeping a watchful eye out for that scourge of hikers everywhere: the tick.

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. I mean, it wasn’t exactly the Congo Megatransect  or anything. The pool was only about 30 yards off the trail, surrounded by a thick grove of aromatic spicebush. But it was Friday. And I’m pretty sure I walked through a spiderweb.

Oh, the humanity.

Anyway, once we reached our destination, there was ample compensation for our hardships, limited though they were. Everywhere we looked, we found promising signs of successful amphibian reproduction: spotted salamander egg masses with little embryos clearly visible inside, and swarms of wood frog tadpoles crowding every corner of the pools we checked. Life was busting out all over the place. Just goes to show that simply because a place isn’t particularly welcoming for humans, it doesn’t mean that it has no value.

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