Field Reports from the 2014 Amphibian Migration

At a Glance: Salamander Season 2014

Two Big Nights and several Small Nights made 2014 a banner year for the Salamander Crossing Brigades. When all was said and done, 4,875 amphibians were spared the crush of the tire this spring, thanks to our heroic Crossing Brigadiers.

May 10, 2014

A Small Night to Close the Season

A toad crawls across a paved road. (photo © Russ Cobb)

Toad noir. (photo © Russ Cobb)

Just when you thought the migration was over, one dedicated volunteer at Eastern Avenue in Keene goes out and crosses 69 homeward-bound wood frogs, 11 spring peepers, and 1 American toad on May 10!

A two-person team along Hancock Road in Harrisville also crossed 12 American toads, 1 gray tree frog, 2 bullfrogs, and 1 green frog that evening.

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April 30, 2014

Homeward Bound

Another Small Night, with nearly all critters heading back home to the woods, but it brought our season tally to more than 4,700 crossed critters!

A spotted salamander, detected at our North Lincoln Street pitfall trap array. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

This charming fellow was found in a pitfall trap on the morning of May 1, 2014, headed back into the woods from his breeding wetland. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)


Eastern Avenue. One dedicated volunteer crossed 2 cold wood frogs and 2 peepers (+ 5 dead).

North Lincoln Street was quiet, with just 4 spring peepers and 1 dead eft making their way across the road. An additional 4 spotted salamanders made their way from their breeding wetland into our pitfall trap array before being recorded and released in the woods.


Nelson Road. A longtime Crossing Brigade volunteer moved 3 spotted salamanders and noted 1 dead spottie while passing through the Nelson Road crossing.


Summer Street. A dynamic duo at crossed 1 spotted salamander, 8 wood frogs (+ 2 dead) and 7 spring peepers (+ 6 dead). On her way home, one of the Summer Street ladies also crossed 1 spotted salamander on Cunningham Pond Road.


Glebe Road. A father-son team crossed 16 spotted salamanders and 10 spring peepers (+ 6 dead), and noted 2 dead redbacked salamanders.

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April 26, 2014

A Small Night

A Crossing Brigade volunteer holds a spotted salamander. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

When the Crossing Brigades are out, spotted salamanders find themselves in good hands! (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Saturday evening falls under the “Small Night” category, though it remains to be seen whether this is because the amphibian migration is coming to an end or simply because it was too cold out there for our cold-blooded friends. Still, a few intrepid Crossing Brigadiers braved the cold rain to move amphibians — wood frogs heading away from their breeding pools, and spotted salamanders both coming and going — across roads in Keene, Hancock, and Peterborough.


On her way home from the Summer Street crossing in Peterborough, one volunteer also crossed 11 spotted salamanders (+ 6 dead) on Middle Road and 4 spotted salamanders (+ 1 dead) on Hunts Pond Road in Hancock.

Amphibians wait to be recorded and released in one of the pitfall traps at North Lincoln Street in Keene. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Amphibians wait to be recorded and released in one of the pitfall traps at North Lincoln Street in Keene.
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)


Eastern Avenue. Two Crossing Brigadiers moved 8 wood frogs and 20 spring peepers across the road, and counted 70 dead frogs. 90% of the live frogs were headed away from the wetlands, their breeding over for the year.

Jordan Road. An extremely dedicated volunteer crossed 3 redbacked salamanders, 3 wood frogs (+ 1 dead), and 2 spring peepers (+ 1 dead), and noted 2 dead Jefferson salamanders.

North Lincoln Street. One Crossing Brigadier crossed 1 spotted salamander, 1 juvenile wood frog, and 21 spring peepers (+ 7 dead). An additional 7 spotted salamanders and 1 American toad successfully crossed themselves and landed in our pitfall trap array before being recorded and released.


Summer Street. The Summer Street team crossed 9 spotted salamanders, 1 redbacked salamander, 11 wood frogs, 73 spring peepers (+ 7 dead), and 1 American toad. All of the wood frogs were outbound, but most of the spotted salamanders were heading towards the pools.

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April 22, 2014

Make Way for Toads!

A toad gives a sideways glance. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

All hail the noble toad! (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Here come the toads! Even though Tuesday’s rain was light and short-lived, amphibians were on the move in the Monadnock Region. Now that we’re getting into a later, warmer part of spring, a greater diversity of amphibians was also noted — American toads made a grand entrance, juvenile wood frogs were hopping about in large numbers at North Lincoln Street, redbacked salamanders were out in force at Jordan Road, and adult wood frogs, Jefferson salamanders, and spotted salamanders at several sites were found migrating away from their breeding pools, their work done. A small, but dedicated corps of Salamander Brigade volunteers shuttled nearly a thousand frogs, toads, and salamanders across the road on April 22, bringing our season total to a record-setting 4,514 live amphibians! Read on for site-by-site totals, listed alphabetically by town.


Streeter Hill Road. A family crossed 3 spotted salamanders.


Student intern Alex Kirk shows off a spotted salamander that she removed from our pitfall trap array at North Lincoln Street. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

One of 10 spotted salamanders who crossed themselves — and landed in our pitfall traps — on April 22, 2014.
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Eastern Avenue. The Eastern Avenue crew crossed 81 live wood frogs and 34 live spring peepers, and noted an alarming 98 dead frogs.

East Surry and Gunn Roads. On her way home from a meeting, a Crossing Brigade volunteer stopped to cross 6 spotted salamanders, 4 wood frogs (+ 1 dead), 1 spring peeper, and 1 American toad on East Surry Road. She also crossed 3 spotted salamanders and 3 wood frogs on Gunn Road, and noted many, many more.

Jordan Road. One extremely dedicated volunteer crossed 82 live amphibians, including 22 spotted salamanders, 5 Jefferson salamanders (+ 2 dead), 3 Eastern newts, 24 redbacked salamanders (+ 2 dead), 23 wood frogs (+ 4 dead), and 5 spring peepers (+ 1 dead).

North Lincoln Street. Folks at North Lincoln Street crossed 162 live amphibians, including 2 spotted salamanders, 1 Eastern newt, 44 wood frogs (+ 5 dead), 117 spring peepers (+ 22 dead), and 1 American toad. They also noted, with great sadness, the first gray tree frog of the year, who was mortally wounded. 25 of the wood frogs were juveniles, and nearly all of the adult wood frogs were heading away from the wetlands with a skip in their step! An additional 10 spotted salamanders, 9 wood frogs, and 6 spring peepers successfully crossed themselves and landed in our pitfall trap array before being recorded and released.

A Salamander Brigadier holds a redbacked salamander int he palm of her hand. (photo © Liz Masure)

Liz Masure reported, “WE EVEN SAW A REDBACK SALAMANDER!! It was so tiny and FAST!!” (photo © Liz Masure)


Nelson Road. A late-night Crossing Brigadier crossed 1 spotted salamander (and noted a heartbreaking 31 dead), 1 Eastern newt (+ 1 dead), 1 redbacked salamander, 2 dusky salamanders (!!!)(+ 1 dead), 31 spring peepers (+ 44 dead), 1 green frog (+ 2 dead), and 1 American toad (+ 2 dead), and noted 1 dead wood frog.


Summer Street. A dedicated duo crossed 12 spotted salamanders (+ 3 dead), 1 redbacked salamander, 40 wood frogs (+ 7 dead), 121 spring peepers (+ 15 dead), 1 pickerel frog, and 1 American toad, for a total of 176 live amphibians.


Old New Ipswich Road. A mother-son team crossed 1 spotted salamander, 1 wood frog, 8 peepers (+ 3 dead), 2 pickerel frogs, and several worms, and noted 1 dead newt and 1 dead toad.

Springfield, VT

Route 5. A family of Crossing Brigadiers from Charlestown crossed the river to Route 5 in Springfield, VT, where they crossed 47 spotted salamanders, 5 Eastern newts, 1 redbacked salamander, 42 wood frogs, 59 peepers, an impressive 43 American toads (“And talk about toads!!!!  I have never seen so many toads!!!”), and 1 giant water bug. (Now that’s dedication.) Total amphibian count: 197.

Wood frog eggs in a Keene vernal pool. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A sign of a successful migration: wood frog eggs have started to appear in local vernal pools. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)


Matthews Road. A dedicated duo crossed 19 spotted salamanders (and noted 18 dead), 1 Eastern newt, 1 redbacked salamander (+ 2 dead), 5 wood frogs (+ 3 dead), 85 spring peepers (+ a shocking 111 dead), 2 pickerel frogs (+ 1 dead), and 11 American toad (+ 13 dead), for a total of 124 live amphibians and 148 dead, in the span of just an hour and a half. We need more hands on deck at this site on future Big Nights!


Glebe Road. Two Crossing Brigadiers crossed 39 spotted salamanders (+ 13 dead), 3 Eastern newts (+ 1 dead), 6 wood frogs (+ 9 dead), 23 spring peepers (+ 25 dead), 4 pickerel frogs (+ 1 dead), 1 green frog, and 23 American toads (+ 9 dead), for a total of 108 live critters.

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April 15, 2014

The Migration is in Full Swing

Freshly-laid wood frog eggs. (photo © Russ Cobb)

The first wood frog eggs of the season appeared in the Robin Hood Park vernal pools on April 14, 2014.
(photo © Russ Cobb)

Nearly 90 Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers took to the streets on the evening of April 15, shuttling more than 1,200 amphibians across the road and bringing our season total up to more than 3,500 crossed critters! Tallies were lower than expected in Keene, and some salamanders and frogs were found heading away from the wetlands, a sign that the inbound migration may be over for the season, at least in Keene. Another sign of a successful inbound migration: wood frogs are singing right now, and egg masses are starting to appear in vernal pools throughout the region! Read on for details from the crossings in your neck of the woods.


Hill Road. A small team moved 6 spotted salamanders off the road.


On a small side street, an enthusiastic Crossing Brigade member found her very first spottie, and crossed 8 spring peepers.


A spring peeper exposes its soft underside. (photo © Cheryl Martin)

Spring peeper says, “Can you believe this crazy weather?” (photo © Cheryl Martin)

Middle Road. A crew of new Crossing Brigadiers from ConVal High School — led by Harris Center naturalist Laurel Swope — crossed 13 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead), 25 wood frogs (+ 6 dead), 30 spring peepers (+ 4 dead), and 1 green frog, and noted 4 dead Eastern newts, for a total of 69 live amphibians.


Hancock. A mother-son team crossed 4 spotted salamanders, 1 wood frog, and 2 spring peepers.


Eastern Avenue. The Eastern Avenue team crossed 17 wood frogs (+ 34 dead), as well as 10 spring peepers (+ 6 dead), for a total of 27 live frogs.

East Surry Road. A mother-daughter team crossed 4 spotted salamanders (and noted 1 dead) and 4 wood frogs (+ 6 dead) on on their way to and from the North Lincoln Street crossing.

Jordan Road. A small crew crossed 21 spotted salamanders (+ 1 dead), 14 Jefferson salamanders (+ 6 dead), 1 Eastern newt, 1 redbacked salamander, 10 wood frogs, and 22 spring peepers (+ 3 dead), 69 live amphibians in all.

North Lincoln Street. The North Lincoln Street crew crossed 10 spotted salamanders (and counted 1 dead), 1 Eastern newt (+ 3 dead), 24 wood frogs (+ 2 dead), and 173 spring peepers (+ 31 dead), for a total of 208 live amphibians. An additional 2 spotted salamanders and 5 spring peepers successfully crossed themselves and landed in our pitfall trap array before being recorded and released.

A new Crossing Brigade volunteer is excited to find her first spotted salamander. (photo © Patty Farmer)

Patty found her very first spotted salamander EVER on Tuesday! (photo © Patty Farmer)


Nelson Road. A hearty trio crossed 12 spotted salamanders (+ 3 dead), 1 Eastern newt (+ 9 dead), 1 dusky salamander (!!!), 12 wood frogs (+ 1 dead), 107 spring peepers (+ 11 dead), and 1 green frog, 134 live amphibians in all.


Oak Street. A three-generational crossing effort yielded 1 spotted salamander (+ 1 dead) and 8 spring peepers (5 dead).


Summer Street. The dedicate Summer Street team crossed 34 spotted salamanders (+ 1 dead), 1 Eastern newt, 2 redbacked salamanders, 69 wood frogs (+ 11 dead), 240 spring peepers (+ 66 dead), 1 pickerel frog, 2 green frogs, and 1 American toad, for a total of 350 live amphibians.


Matthews Road. At a new crossing site discovered on Matthews Roada dynamic duo crossed 85 live amphibians, including 28 spotted salamanders (and noted 31 dead), 1 four-toed salamander, 55 spring peepers (+ 131 dead), and 1 pickerel frog (+ 2 dead), and noted 2 dead Eastern newts, 1 dead wood frog, and 1 dead American toad. This is a site that clearly needs more attention on future Big Nights, though traffic here is heavy, so it is not recommended for families!

Swanzey Lake Road. An enthusiastic team crossed 46 live amphibians, including 18 spotted salamanders (+ 3 dead), 1 Jefferson salamander, 9 wood frogs (8 dead), 17 spring peepers (3 dead), and 1 bullfrog.

Student intern Alex Kirk checks the pitfall array on a snowy April morning. (photo © Laurel Swope)

After the rain came the snow — and a couple of cold peepers in the pitfall array. (photo © Laurel Swope)


Prospect Hill Road. Folks at a new-to-us crossing crossed 1 spotted salamander (+ 1 dead) and 6 spring peepers (+ 5 dead).


Glebe Road.  A dedicated crew crossed 73 spotted salamanders (+ 14 dead), 9 Eastern newts (+ 15 dead), 11 wood frogs (+ 3 dead), 54 spring peepers (+ 19 dead), 1 pickerel frog, 3 green frogs, and 1 American toad — 152 live amphibians total.


Forest Lake Road. A lively crew crossed 83 live amphibians, including 23 spotted salamanders (+ 7 dead), 28 four-toed salamanders (!!!) (+ 2 dead), 5 wood frogs (+ 5 dead), and 27 spring peepers (+ 9 dead), and noted 10 unidentified dead amphibians.

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April 11, 2014


A 30% chance of showers swiftly and unexpectedly turned into 100% light rain on Friday, prompting a surprise Big Night in many parts of the Monadnock Region! Our Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers collectively ushered more than 1,800 amphibians across the road in the span of just a few hours, bringing our 2014 season total to over 2,200 critters. Visit our Flickr feed for photos from the Big Night(s), and read on for details from the crossing nearest you.


A bucket of frogs. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

The crew at North Lincoln Street in Keene found so many frogs on April 11 that they needed to use buckets to ferry them all across! (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Eastern Avenue. A few intrepid volunteers crossed 19 wood frogs (and, sadly, noted 123 dead), as well as 8 spring peepers (+ 28 dead).  This site clearly needs some more attention on the next Big Night, but exercise caution if you head to Eastern Avenue, as traffic there is intense.

Jordan Road.  A small crew at crossed 4 wood frogs (+ 4 dead) and 2 spring peepers (1 dead). On their drive home, they also noted 19 dead wood frogs on Old Concord Road. One injured Jefferson salamander was spotted on Old Concord Road, as well.

North Lincoln Street. The North Lincoln Street crew crossed 9 spotted salamanders (and counted 2 dead), 157 wood frogs (+ 13 dead), and 644 spring peepers (+ 158 dead, though that number is surely an underestimate), for a total of 810 live amphibians. An additional 8 spotted salamanders, 12 wood frogs, and 69 spring peepers successfully crossed themselves and landed in our pitfall trap array before being recorded and released. This means that more than a THOUSAND frogs crossed, or attempted to cross, North Lincoln Street in Keene during a span of only four hours on April 11!


Summer Street. The dedicated team at Summer Street moved 1 spotted salamander (+ 1 dead), 163 wood frogs (+ 53 dead), 41 spring peepers (+ 6 dead), and 1 American toad, for a total of 206 live amphibians.

Springfield, VT

Route 5. A family of Crossing Brigadiers from Charlestown crossed the river to Route 5 in Springfield, VT, where they crossed 304 live amphibians, including 58 spotted salamanders, 214 wood frogs, 29 peepers, and 3 American toads, and noted much carnage.

One of 14 four-toed salamanders crossed at Forest Lake Road in Winchester on April 11, 2014. (photo © Pauline Brackett)

One of 14 four-toed salamanders crossed at Forest Lake Road in Winchester on April 11. (photo © Pauline Brackett)


Glebe Road. A small crew crossed 74 spotted salamanders (+ 14 dead), 45 wood frogs (+ 29 dead), 172 peepers (+ 35 dead), 20 Eastern newts (+ 3 dead), 1 four-toed salamander, and 8 pickerel frogs (+ 3 dead), for a total of 221 live amphibians.


Forest Lake Road. A lively crew crossed 12 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead), 43 wood frogs (+ 19 dead), 67 spring peepers (+ 3 dead), 1 Eastern newt, 1 pickerel frog, and 14 four-toed salamanders (!!!), for a total of 138 live amphibians.

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April 7, 2014

Here We Go…

A spotted salamander crosses a speed hump on North Lincoln Street. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A spotted salamander makes his way across North Lincoln Street in Keene on April 7. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Tonight, the amphibian migration began in earnest in Keene. The rains came late, after many Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers had already gone to bed, but some intrepid amphibian enthusiasts headed out into the late-night showers to catch the first Big Night of the season. Photos are up on our Flickr feed, with more to come! Read on for details from the crossings in your town.


Middle Road. A dynamic duo crossed 13 wood frogs (1 dead). One spring peeper was found making its way across Antrim Road in Hancock, too.


East Surry Road. A mother-daughter team crossed 8 wood frogs on East Surry Road on their way home from the North Lincoln Street crossing.

Jordan Road. A small crew at Jordan Road moved 2 Jefferson salamanders and 11 wood frogs. They also crossed 2 Jefferson salamanders on Old Concord Road.

North Lincoln Street. A hearty crew moved 104 wood frogs, 203 peepers (9 dead), and 3 spotted salamanders, for a total of 310 live critters. When they left the site at 12:30 a.m., they could easily see four dozen frogs on the road (not included in the above counts), and they could hear more hopping out of the woods and plopping onto the pavement. Those frogs were probably moving all night!

A happy Crossing Brigadier holds a spotted salamander. (photo © Cheryl Martin)

Unequivocal proof that salamanders make people smile. (photo © Cheryl Martin)


Swanzey Lake Road. A dynamic duo crossed 1 spotted salamander (1 dead), 1 Jefferson salamander, 1 four-toed salamander (!), 9 wood frogs (1 dead), and 10 spring peepers — 23 live amphibians in all.


Glebe Road was still quite frozen, so only 2 spring peepers were found making their move there.

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April 4, 2014

The Only Rule is: It Begins…

A Jefferson salamander crosses the road. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A Jefferson salamander crosses Jordan Road on April 4, 2014. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

As predicted, this was a “Small” Night due to cold temperatures, but some parts of the Monadnock Region did see the first, faint pulse of a migration. A family of Crossing Brigade volunteers from Claremont reported the first (and, so far, only) spotted salamander of the year just across the river in Springfield, Vermont. In Keene, two hours of prowling North Lincoln Street, Jordan Road, and Old Concord Road yielded 10 wood frogs (5 dead), 7 spring peepers (1 dead), and 4 Jefferson salamanders (thankfully, none dead). More to come!

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Contact Us

To volunteer or for more information, please contact Brett Amy Thelen at (603) 525-3394 or by email.