Field Reports from the 2015 Amphibian Migration

At a Glance: Salamander Season 2015

Drum roll, please: the Salamander Crossing Brigades collectively spared a jaw-dropping 4,781 amphibians (including 650 spotted salamanders, 694 wood frogs, and 2,970 spring peepers) from the crush of the tire this spring. We also identified four individual spotted salamanders who were moved across North Lincoln Street in Keene by our volunteers in both 2014 and 2015, as verified by photographs of their unique spot patterns.

May 15, 2015

Final Tallies for 2015

A spotted salamander smiles in gratitude for the Crossing Brigades. (photo © Dave Huth)

A spotted salamander smiles in gratitude for the Crossing Brigades. (photo © Dave Huth)

Drum roll, please: the Salamander Crossing Brigades collectively spared a jaw-dropping 4,781 amphibians (including 650 spotted salamanders, 694 wood frogs, and 2,970 spring peepers) from the crush of the tire this spring. Even more astounding: since 2007, we have helped almost 25,000 amphibians survive the most dangerous journey of their lives.

This spring, we also identified four individual spotted salamanders who were moved across North Lincoln Street in Keene by our volunteers in both 2014 and 2015, as verified by photographs of their unique spot patterns. The exact same salamanders, both years! We initiated pilot spot pattern databases for seven more crossing sites in 2015 as well, so hopefully we’ll have more exciting news on the spotted salamander front in the years to come. Visit our Flickr feed for photos from this season’s Crossing Brigades, and read on for details from our biggest crossings, which are listed in alphabetical order by town.

Keene

A spotted salamander ventures across a dirt road. (photo © Jess Dude)

Is there anything sweeter than a salamander in the spring? (photo © Jess Dude)

Eastern Avenue. A dedicated team of Crossing Brigadiers from Keene State College crossed 136 wood frogs (and counted an alarming 107 dead), 74 spring peepers (+ 96 dead), 23 bullfrogs (+13 dead), 2 green frogs, and 1 American toad, for a total of 236 live amphibians (+ 216 dead). Our Site Coordinator for Eastern Avenue just graduated from KSC and is off on her next adventure (congratulations, Julia!), so if you’d like to shepherd this site next spring, let us know.

Jordan Road. A small, but hearty crew crossed 128 peepers (+ 38 dead), 72 red-backed salamanders (+ 15 dead), 69 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead), 24 wood frogs (+ 6 dead), and 15 Jefferson salamanders (+ 2 dead), for a total of 308 live amphibians (+ 63 dead)

North Lincoln Street. Scores of volunteers crossed 1,321 live spring peepers (and noted 290 dead), 87 wood frogs (+ 15 dead), 18 spotted salamanders (+ 5 dead), 6 red-backed salamanders (+ 1 dead), 1 red eft, and 1 American toad, for a total of 1,433 live amphibians (+ 311 dead).

Nelson

Nelson Road. The good folks of Nelson and Harrisville crossed 190 peepers (+ 21 dead), 30 wood frogs (+ 1 dead), 17 Eastern newts (+ 4 dead), 53 spotted salamanders (+ 1 dead), 1 dusky salamander, 1 red-backed salamander, 1 two-lined salamander, 2 green frogs, and 5 American toads, for a total of 300 live amphibians (+ 27 dead) in 2015.

A Salamander Brigade volunteer cradles a spotted salamander in her hands. (photo © Jess Dude)

Another act of heroism. (photo © Jess Dude)

Peterborough

The Summer Street team crossed 378 spring peepers (+ 62 dead), 228 wood frogs (+ 18 dead), 55 spotted salamanders (+ 7 dead), 10 newts (+ 5 dead), 8 red-backed salamanders, 3 four-toed salamanders. 2 American toads, and 1 green frog, for a total of 686 live amphibians (+ 92 dead) in 2015.

Springfield, VT

Route 5. A single family crossed 168 spring peepers (+ noted 57 dead), 62 spotted salamanders (+ 13 dead), 18 Eastern newts (+ 38 dead), 16 wood frogs (+ 3 dead), and 5 American toads (+ 2 dead), for a total of 269 (+ 113 dead) in 2015.

Swanzey

Matthews Road. Several teams of Crossing Brigadiers crossed 74 spring peepers (and recorded 92 dead), 23 spotted salamanders (+ 17 dead), 11 wood frogs (+ 24 dead), and 2 American toads (+ 3 dead), and noted 5 dead Eastern newts, 1 dead pickerel frog, and 1 dead unidentified amphibian, for a total of 110 live amphibians (+ 143 dead) in 2015.

Westmoreland

Glebe Road. Several hearty Brigadier families crossed 316 spring peepers (+ 83 dead), 170 spotted salamanders (+ 19 dead), 69 red efts (+ 52 dead), 23 wood frogs (+ 5 dead), 14 pickerel frogs (+ 1 dead), 10 American toads, 7 red-backed salamanders, 5 green frogs, and 3 bullfrogs (+ 1 dead), for a total of 617 live amphibians (+ 161 dead) in 2015.

Winchester

Forest Lake Road. The jolly Winchester crew crossed 55 live spotted salamanders (+ 21 dead), a remarkable 70 four-toed salamanders (+ 3 dead), 6 Eastern newts (+ 9 dead), 2 red-backed salamanders, 42 wood frogs (+ 10 dead), 100 spring peepers (+ 9 dead), 2 green frogs, 1 bullfrog, 3 American toads, and 1 unidentified salamander, for a total of 282 live amphibians (+ 52 dead) in 2015.

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May 10, 2015

The Migration Never Stopped….

Toads in amplexus on Route 123 in Hancock. (photo © Jess Dude)

These American toads were eager to get to the pond on May 10! (photo © Jess Dude)

Just when you thought the migration was over, a dedicated volunteer at Route 123 and Hunts Pond Road in Hancock goes out and crosses 4 homeward-bound spotted salamanders, 5 gray tree frogs, 2 green frogs, 11 bullfrogs, and 21 spring peepers on May 10!

A solo Crossing Brigadier on Piper Lane and Nelson Road (between Tolman Pond Road and Harrisville Pond) in Harrisville also crossed 2 spotted salamanders, 7 wood frogs, 8 spring peepers, 5 American toads, and 2 green frogs that evening.

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April 22, 2015

A Small, but Not Insignificant Night

Rains were intermittent on Wednesday, leading to a Small, But Not Insignificant Night, with Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers collectively moving more than 950 amphibians across roads at a dozen crossing sites. This brings our season total to over 4,500 crossed critters! Read on for details from the crossing nearest you.

A juvenile wood frog and an adult peeper perch on a data form. (photo © Jess Baum)

Juvenile wood frogs made an appearance at North Lincoln Street on April 22! This wee wood frog (left) was only the size of a spring peeper (right), but was distinguishable by the dark mask behind its eye. (photo © Jess Baum)

Harrisville

One amphibian hero moved 5 spotted salamanders, 6 peepers (+ 3 dead), and 1 wood frog across Nelson Road in just ten minutes (!) A team of two also crossed 30 peepers, 3 wood frogs, and 6 green frogs at Chesham and Seaver Roads before moving to Hancock Road, where they helped another 2 spotted salamanders, 1 Eastern newt, and 3 green frogs along their journeys.

Hancock

A fantastic team crossed 1 spotted salamander, 3 Eastern newts (+ 2 dead), 10 wood frogs (+ 2 dead), 9 peepers (+ 3 dead), and 2 unidentified dead amphibians at Middle Hancock Road, and stopped on their way home to cross 3 spotted salamanders on Old Dublin Road. These guys even made their own salamander crossing sign. Way to go!

Keene

Eastern Avenue. A small crew crossed 39 spring peepers (and noted at least 62 dead), 6 wood frogs (+ 6 dead), and 1 bullfrog, for a total of 46 live frogs (+ a dismaying 68 dead).

A family of wet, happy Crossing Brigadiers. (photo © Emily Nichols)

Ava, Emily, and Garrett were wet, but happy, after their first night with the Crossing Brigades! (photo © Emily Nichols)

Jordan Road. It was a quieter night at Jordan Road, where Brigadiers crossed 1 spotted salamander, 5 red-backed salamanders (+ 3 dead), 3 wood frogs, and 20 peepers, for a total of 29 amphibians (+ 3 dead).

North Lincoln Street is still full of peepers! On Wednesday, 13 volunteers moved 238 peepers (+ 35 dead) across the road at North Lincoln, along with 3 spotted salamanders (+ 1 dead), 1 red eft, 3 red-backed salamanders (+ 1 dead erythristic red-backed), and 3 juvenile wood frogs, for a total of 249 live animals (+ 37 dead).

Nelson

Nelson Road. Two amphibian protectors helped 187 critters to safety and removed another 19 dead from the roadway. Here’s the breakdown: 3 spotted salamanders, 16 Eastern newts (+ 4 dead), 1 red-backed salamander, 1 dusky salamander (!!), 8 wood frogs, 158 spring peepers (+ 14 dead), and 1 dead two-lined salamander. Great salamander diversity at this site!

A spring peeper clings to a branch. (photo © Kevin Pearson)

Just hang on, man…(photo © Kevin Pearson)

Peterborough

Summer Street. A dynamic duo atcrossed 129 live amphibians and noted 27 dead, including 4 spotted salamanders, 4 Eastern newts (+ 3 dead), 17 wood frogs (+ 7 dead), 103 peepers (+ at least 17 dead), and 1 American toad.

Newport

Oak Street. The Newport team moved 5 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead), 42 peepers (+ 23 dead), 1 pickerel frog, and 1 dead red-backed salamander.

Rindge

Lord Brook Road. A solo salamander saviorcrossed 5 peepers (+ 3 dead) and 1 red-backed salamander. A loud chorus of frogs kept him company during his time on the road.

Westmoreland

Glebe Road made another hearty showing, with a small, but enthusiastic group crossing 178 live amphibians (and, unfortunately, recording 57 dead), including: 52 spotted salamanders (+ 9 dead), 10 Eastern newts (+ 17 dead), 3 red-backed salamanders, 2 green frogs, 2 pickerel frogs, 3 bullfrogs (+ 1 dead), 4 toads, and 102 peepers (+30 dead).

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April 20, 2015
A juvenile spotted salamander is helped across Jordan Road in Keene. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A juvenile spotted salamander (which may, in fact, be the cutest salamander in whole entire world…) was in good hands at Jordan Road in Keene on Monday.
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A Bona Fide Big Night

Monday was a bona fide Big Night in the Monadnock Region, and our Salamander Crossing Brigades were up to the task! Over 90 volunteers took to the streets on April 20, shuttling more than 3100 amphibians across the road and bringing our season total to well over 3,500 crossed critters! Visit our Flickr feed for photos from the Big Night, and read on for details from the crossing nearest you.

Alstead

Two volunteers crossed 55 amphibians at 3 different sites. On Alstead Center Road, they crossed 35 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead), 1 Eastern newt, 5 red-backed salamanders, 1 wood frog, and 2 spring peepers. On Hill Road, they moved 5 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead) and 1 peeper, and on Route 123 (near 123A), they assisted another 5 spotties to safety.

An erythrisitc redbacked salamander. (photo © Sherman Morrison)

These unusual red-backed salamanders threw a bunch of folks for a loop! This is not a red eft (which are much bigger, have spots, and are typically active during the day), but a rare, all-red morph of the red-backed salamander known as an erythristic red-backed. Crossing Brigade volunteers found them at both Jordan Road and Gunn Road in Keene on April 20, 2015. (photo © Sherman Morrison)

Harrisville

Chesham Road. At least 20 spotted salamanders were aided in their journey by a kind soul who just happened to be passing by.

Hancock Road. Two teams moved 39 spotted salamanders (+ 3 dead), 2 red-backed salamanders, 20 wood frogs (+ 3 dead), 3 spring peepers, 2 green frogs, and 1 dead pickerel frog.

Nelson Road. One volunteer moved 10 spotted salamanders and 4 peepers (+ 3 dead ones) in just 10 minutes (!) and a late-night passer-through moved another 20 spotties and 2 American toads.

Jaffrey

A mother and son moved one lucky spotted salamander across Lacy Road.

Keene

A Salamander Brigade volunteer is stoked to help a spotted salamander on its way. (photo © Jess Baum)

Happy is she who holds a spotted salamander on Big Night. (photo © Jess Baum)

Eastern Avenue. One super volunteer rescued 54 amphibians, including 29 live spring peepers (+ 34 dead), 22 live bullfrogs (+ 13 dead), 2 green frogs, and 1 American toad. Frog lovers, take note: Eastern Avenue could use some more love on our next Big Night!

Gunn and East Surry Roads. A family returning home from the North Lincoln Street crossing moved 5 spotted salamanders, 1 green frog, and 2 American toads across East Surry Road. They also helped 1 toad and 1 erythristic (red-phase) red-backed salamander across Gunn Road.

Jordan Road. A bevy of volunteers migrated to Jordan Road to assist with the amphibian crossing, where they moved 68 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead), 15 Jefferson salamanders (+ 2 dead), 67 red-backed salamanders (+ 12 dead), 21 wood frogs (+ 6 dead), and 108 spring peepers (+ 38 dead), for a total of 279 live amphibians and 60 dead.

North Lincoln Street. 30 enthusiastic volunteers shuttled 865 live amphibians across the road — and counted nearly 200 dead — from sundown until after midnight. It was a serious peeper party at North Lincoln: we crossed a record 834 spring peepers (and noted 185 dead), along with 21 wood frogs (+ 7 dead), 10 spotted salamanders (+ 3 dead), and 2 red-backed salamanders.

Lyndeborough

Center Road. One hearty volunteer counted 43 dead amphibians, including 2 spotted salamanders, 5 wood frogs, and 36 spring peepers. This obviously wasn’t fun work but it is important work, and we appreciate the data. Thank you!

A Jefferson salamander sits on an ID sheet. (photo © Sarah Wilson)

A Jefferson salamander IDs itself. Don’t you love it when they do that? (photo © Sarah Wilson)

Nelson

Nelson Road. Two volunteers moved 14 spotted salamanders (+ 1 dead), 1 Eastern newt, 14 wood frogs (+ 1 dead), and 15 peepers (+ 1 dead), for a total of 44 live amphibians. This is a site that could use more hands on deck for future Big Nights: all of Nelson Road, from Nelson Village to Childs Bog in Harrisville, is an active crossing site — far too much territory for two volunteers to cover alone!

Newport

Oak Street. An intergenerational team of three moved 20 live amphibians: 4 spotted salamanders (+ 4 dead), 14 spring peepers (+ 10 dead), and 2 unidentified dead specimens.

Rindge

New Ipswich and Perry Roads. A terrific team of two moved 2 spotted salamanders (+ 2 dead), 3 red-backed salamanders, 8 wood frogs (+ 1 dead), 21 spring peepers (+ 15 dead), and 5 American toads, for a total of 39 live amphibians (+ 18 dead).

Hands holding a spotted salamander. (photo © the Morrison Family)

A lovely spot pattern, now recorded for our spot pattern database! (photo © the Morrison Family)

Peterborough

Summer Street. There was a big turnout for Big Night on Summer Street, where 13 volunteers moved 557 live amphibians to safety and counted another 65 dead, including: 51 spotted salamanders (+ 7 dead), 6 Eastern newts (+ 2 dead), 8 red-backed salamanders, 211 wood frogs (+ 11 dead), 275 spring peepers (+ 45 dead), 1 green frog, 1 American toad, and 1 unidentified frog.

Springfield, VT

Route 5. A dedicated family of Crossing Brigadiers moved a total of 269 live amphibians across Route 5, including 62 spotted salamanders (+ 13 dead), 18 Eastern newts (+ 38 dead), 16 wood frogs (+ 3 dead), 168 peepers (+ 57 dead), and 5 American toads (+ 2 dead).

Swanzey

A wee wood frog catches a lift on a “Big Night” data form. (photo © Emily Nichols)

A wee wood frog catches a lift on a “Big Night” data form. (photo © Emily Nichols)

Matthews Road. Two hearty volunteers moved 86 live amphibians out of harm’s way, including 13 spotted salamanders (+ 14 dead), 70 spring peepers (+ 78 dead), 2 wood frogs (+5 dead), and 1 American toad (+ 3 dead). They also noted 5 dead Eastern newts and 1 dead pickerel frog, and commented that the figure for peeper casualties is likely a significant underestimate, as they often had to pass over counting the dead in order to assist the living. This is a site that clearly needs more hands on deck on future Big Nights, though traffic here is heavy, so it is not recommended for families!

Swanzey Lake Road. A team of two crossed 5 spotted salamanders (+ 3 dead), 5 peepers (+ 4 dead), and 4 gray tree frogs (+ 3 dead). This is our first report of gray tree frogs for 2015!

Westmoreland

Glebe Road made a hearty showing, with a robust group of 20 Crossing Brigadiers moving 439 live amphibians (and, unfortunately, recording 104 dead), including: 118 spotted salamanders (+ 10 dead), 59 Eastern newts (+ 56 dead), 4 red-backed salamanders, 23 wood frogs (+ 5 dead), 214 spring peepers (+ 53 dead), 12 pickerel frogs (+ 1 dead), 6 American toads, and 3 green frogs!

Winchester

Forest Lake Road. A jolly team from Picadilly Farm moved 282 live amphibians across the road in just two hours. Here’s the breakdown: 55 live spotted salamanders (+ 21 dead), a remarkable 70 four-toed salamanders (+ 3 dead), 6 Eastern newts (+ 9 dead), 2 red-backed salamanders, 42 wood frogs (+ 10 dead), 100 spring peepers (+ 9 dead), 2 green frogs, 1 bullfrog, 3 American toads, and 1 unidentified salamander.

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April 10, 2015
Two photos of the same salamander, taken a year apart.

To see the matching spot patterns with your own eyes, visit us on Flickr for larger versions of this and other photos of uniquely identified spotted salamanders from our Crossing Brigade program.

A Postscript

EXCITING NEWS: after examining photographs of the five spotted salamanders who were moved across North Lincoln Street in Keene by our Crossing Brigade volunteers on April 10, we were able to identify two individual salamanders who were moved across the road at that site in both 2014 and 2015, as verified by photographs of their unique spot patterns. THE EXACT SAME SALAMANDERS, both years!

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April 10, 2015

The Only Rule is: It Begins…

A wood frog pauses on a Big Night data form. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Wood frogs are officially on the move in Keene!
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Tonight, the amphibian migration began in earnest in Keene. The rain ended an hour or so before sunset, but the first frogs and salamanders of the year — eager after a long, cold start to spring — made their move on wet roads in just a light mist. Many parts of our region are still snowbound, but in Keene and Swanzey, it begins….

Keene

Eastern Avenue. A dynamic duo crossed 4 peepers and 130 wood frogs, and recorded an alarming 101 dead wood frogs.

North Lincoln Street was, in the words of one young Crossing Brigadier, a veritable “peeper party!” In three hours, the North Lincoln Street crew moved 249 live spring peepers (and counted more than 70 dead), 63 wood frogs (+ 8 dead), and 5 spotted salamanders (+ 1 dead), for a total of 317 live critters.

Swanzey

Matthews Road. A crew of two crossed 4 spring peepers (14 dead), 9 wood frogs (19 dead), 10 spotted salamanders (3 dead), and 1 American toad (…which was a surprise, as it’s still quite early in the year for toads!)

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Contact Us

To volunteer or for more information, please contact Brett Amy Thelen at (603) 358-2065 or by email.