Vernal Pools: Spring in the Wetland

Did you know that a grassy wetland is called a marsh, and a wooded wetland is a swamp? I’ve also learned that the seasonal ponds, that dry up by mid-summer but then fill up again the rest of the year, are called vernal pools. They’re one of my favourite parts of the woods.

A vernal pool in spring

A froggy wonderland

Sometime in April, we started to hear frogs, day and night. It was so loud, you could hear them from quite a distance; the sound would get louder as you approached a pond. The big pools in the woods were deafening!

It turns out that most of the sound is made by tiny western chorus frogs. When you approach the pool they go silent, but stand still for a while and they’ll start up again. You can look for ages without seeing them–they’re only about an inch long, and well camouflaged.

Frogs lay their eggs in these pools, because ponds that dry up in the summer don’t contain fish to eat the eggs or tadpoles.

Turn on your sound and enjoy a few seconds of these little guys croaking up a storm. Sorry it’s a bit shaky–I wasn’t carrying a tripod and was trying not to fall over with my feet in muck and the water almost to the top of my boots! Notice how tightly the frogs hold on to the plants, to stay in place. And in the second video clip, there’s a tiny snail crawling just below the frog.

A tiny chorus frog. That huge throat is only about the size of a large blueberry!

Other critters too!

There are lots of other critters in and around the pools too. Birds, bugs, little snails… Occasionally a duck or two will swim around for a little while. One day I noticed this tiny turtle, well camouflaged beneath the surface. I don’t know if it was hibernating, or sleeping, or dead, but it was gone when I returned a day or two later.

A tiny turtle under the water.

Lots of reflections

The ponds are really beautiful… it’s a tough thing to capture!


Stay tuned!

That reminds me that it’s time to put the trail cams back in the woods. Last year we saw deer, raccoons, coyotes, and wild turkeys coming to the water. Stay tuned…

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3 Responses

  1. Bonnie Mercadante says:

    Great shots, Linda!

  2. Mimi says:

    As always, great photos and commentary. Thanks for sharing!

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