4.14.11 Spring's Awakening

Marsh 790 xxx
photos by george billard
The marshy area in the woods behind our house is bursting with the sounds (and occasional sights) of new life. The rains and melting snow have united in large vernal pools that are the breeding ground for frogs and salamanders. You can hear their trilling and chuckling, great crowds of them creating a cacophany that we once took for an enormous flock of geese. When you draw near, they all go silent of course, so a stealthy approach is essential. We did scare a couple of ducks who took off, leaving behind a lavish breakfast buffet of bugs and water creatures. Here's a quick visual tour of some of the natural wonders we came across yesterday morning.
Wasps nest 790 xxx
a wasps' nest
This type of wasps' nest is generally seen hanging way up high in a tree, so it was unusual to come across one like this, woven into the branches of a small bush. The tenants are long gone, but it was a bit too soggy and ragged after a long winter to add to our cabinet of curios.
Eggs 790 xxx
see the cloud-like deposits of eggs on the upper right of the mossy area?
Frogs and salamanders both lay their eggs in very similar jelly-like masses and I've yet to determine the difference, so these might be either. We definitely heard frogs, but when I poked the waters' edge with the toe of my welly, I saw some spotted salamanders moving around.
Lichen 790 xxx
the wet brings out the fungi and lichen, and the slugs who feast on rotting vegetation
Tortoise shell 790 xxx
2 years ago we found the remains of a turtle in the marsh; bits of him still turn up
Woods 790 xxx
the moss is showing brilliant green and soon ferns will line all these waterways
Toad 790 xxx
this gorgeous toad was peeking out from the bramble in our own garden