Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Cool Vernal Pool

Well, Becca and I enjoyed our trip to the nature center, where one of the naturalists led us (off-trail) to a vernal pool. What's that, you ask? A vernal pool is one that is not filled by a spring or stream. It is watered by snowmelt or rain, and dries up at least occasionally, usually for some months every year. Because of this fish do not live or breed in them, which means other species are able to survive there. Wood frogs and some salamanders breed exclusively in vernal (meaning spring) pools.

We had hoped to find eggs. There weren't any visible, but we did see tadpoles of many shapes and sizes. Some were small and dark with round heads, and others were larger, with khaki coloring and more triangular heads. We didn't see any with legs, so we'll try to go back in a week or so to check out their development.

We brought boots along, the better to squelch along the muddy edge and squish through the mushy shallows. We saw multiple footprints: deer, raccoon, human. Becca even found a "stick print" when she moved a branch. (I was wishing I had remembered to bring plaster!)

There was lots more to notice:
  • a bird house with chirping inside
  • ants
  • spiders resting, on webs, wrapping prey, walking in the grass
  • a roly-poly
  • birds
  • birds calling
  • wild strawberries
  • rotting logs
  • branches that looked like backbones
  • a mushroom
  • fungus on a log
  • bees busy at a hive
  • a big, fuzzy bee
  • tadpoles making ripples as they touched the surface of the water from below
  • algae
  • insects at the pool
It was a relaxed morning. Rebecca even called it "special time", which is quite an accolade considering that special time is usually going out to breakfast with Daddy. He's definitely better at the focused one-on-one event than I am.

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