COVID-19 UPDATE: The Harris Center has canceled or postponed all in-person programs and events through at least June 15. The Harris Center building will also be closed to visitors until June 15. Our trails and grounds remain open.

Field Reports from the 2020 Amphibian Migration

All the Latest on Big Nights, Small Nights, and In-Between Nights

This is the spot for photos and site-by-site amphibian counts from our 2020 Salamander Crossing Brigades. We update this page and our Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive reports from our volunteers, so if you’ve got photos or counts to share, please submit them here!

May 16, 2020

Final Tallies for 2020

A spotted salamander in someone's hand. (photo © Rebecca Coleman)

Our Crossing Brigadiers moved 738 spotted salamanders to safety in 2020. (photo © Rebecca Coleman)

We had to scale back the Salamander Crossing Brigades significantly this year — including canceling trainings for new volunteers — but a number of experienced volunteers for whom Big Nights have become a spring tradition took to the streets solo or with their families to lend amphibians a hand during this unusual time. All told, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, 105 socially-distant Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers moved 5,797 amphibians of 14 different species — including 3,293 spring peepers, 879 wood frogs, and 738 spotted salamanders — to safety at 21 different road crossing sites in 2020. Our extended network of Salamander Brigadiers also discovered 7 new-to-us amphibian road crossing sites that we’ll add to our map of crossings for next spring. Since 2007, more than 1,200 citizen scientists throughout the Monadnock Region (and sometimes beyond…) have now helped an astonishing 53,182 amphibians survive the most dangerous journey of their lives.

An American toad, held in a person's hand. (photo © Amy Cate)

286 American toads — grumpy, yet endearing — were provided safe passage by our Salamander Crossing Brigades in 2020. (photo © Amy Cate)

Among them are Carter and Hazael Lowe, ages 9 and 11, who recently said: “The data we collect helps scientists know when salamanders are migrating, how many are present, and what species will come at different times. We like being out at night and hearing all the frogs calling. This spring, we also picked up roadside trash so the salamanders could cross without walking on garbage. I think we will be lifelong crossing guards for these little critters.”

We’re looking into new methods for analyzing spot pattern photos, in order to determine how many individual salamanders we’ve encountered more than once at our Keene, Swanzey, and Nelson crossings. That data’s not quite ready for sharing yet, but when it is, we’ll post it here. In the meantime, you can see photos of our past salamander “recaptures” (2014 — 2019) here.

Visit our Flickr feed for more photos from this season’s Crossing Brigades, and read on for site-by-site details from each crossing, which are listed in alphabetical order by town.

Concord

Fisk Road. Over the course of 5 outings, the Concord contingent — 7 volunteers strong — crossed 27 spotted salamanders, 1 Jefferson complex salamander, 1 newt, 2 red-backed salamanders, 1 four-toed salamander, 37 wood frogs (+10 dead), 17 spring peepers (+1 dead), 1 gray tree frog, 20 green frogs (+2 dead), and 8 bullfrogs. Total: 115 live + 13 dead.

Two Crossing Brigade volunteers in reflective vests smile with a spotted salamander. (photo © Amy Cate)

The Deering crew, looking sharp in their reflective vests! (photo © Amy Cate)

Deering

Route 149. In a single outing, a fantastic family of 3 provided safe passage for 19 spotted salamanders (+7 dead), 5 newts (+4 dead), 8 wood frogs (+2 dead), 2 American toads, and 4 bullfrogs (+3 dead). Total: 38 live + 13 dead.

Hancock

Antrim Road. In 2 nights, 2 families of nature lovers crossed 7 spotted salamanders, 3 newts (+2 dead), 29 red-backed salamanders, 1 two-lined salamander, 3 wood frogs, 53 spring peepers (+1 dead), 1 gray tree frog, 6 pickerel frogs, and 1 bullfrog. Total: 104 live + 3 dead.

Harrisville

Breed & Nelson Roads at Childs Bog. In just over an hour on just one night, a solo amphibian aficionado crossed 9 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 2 red efts, 1 spring salamander, 2 spring peepers (+2 dead), 67 American toads (+4 dead), 2 pickerel frogs, and 5 bullfrogs (+1 dead). Total: 88 live + 8 dead.

Chesham Road. On her way home from another crossing site, one volunteer crossed 4 spotted salamanders and 5 American toads in a single pass on a single night at Chesham Road. Total: 9 live.

Hancock Road. On a single night, an intergenerational family of 3 provided safe passage for 12 spotted salamanders, 2 newts, 2 red-backed salamanders, 1 two-lined salamander, 29 wood frogs (+1 dead), 19 spring peepers, and 1 American toad. Total: 66 live + 1 dead.

Jaffrey

Lacy Road. A solo salamander saver assisted 3 spotted salamanders, 4 red-backed salamanders, 8 wood frogs, 3 spring peepers, 3 American toads, 1 gray tree frog, and 1 green frog in a single outing. Total: 23 live.

Keene

Wood frogs in amplexus on North Lincoln Street. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Some frogs found their own lift across North Lincoln Street. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Eastern Avenue. Eastern Avenue didn’t get much volunteer attention this year, but the numbers continue to be dishearteningly skewed the wrong way on this heavily trafficked thoroughfare. In short windows of time over the course of 3 nights, 2 volunteers crossed 10 live wood frogs (+16 dead) and 2 live spring peepers at Eastern Ave. Scores of casualties went uncounted. Total: 12 live + at least 16 dead. This site needs more attention in 2021, though it is definitively not family-friendly!

Jordan Road. The dedicated Jordan Road crew, 13 volunteers strong, racked up 7 nights of critter crossing in 2020. Collectively, they moved 218 amphibians to safety, including 69 spotted salamanders (+6 dead), 13 Jefferson salamanders, 55 red-backed salamanders (+6 dead), 1 newt (+2 dead), 43 wood frogs (+8 dead), 31 spring peepers (+11 dead), 2 American toads (+1 dead), and 4 gray tree frogs. They also recorded one unidentified roadkill. Total: 218 live + 35 dead.

A gray tree frog gets a helping hand. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

On a cuteness scale of 1 to 10, gray tree frogs are a 23.
(photo © Sarah Thomas)

North Lincoln Street. The amphibian road closures planned for North Lincoln Street had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic, but 28 socially-distant Crossing Brigadiers answered the call over 9 nights in 2020, providing safe passage for 27 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 4 red-backed salamanders, 4 newts (+3 dead), 400 wood frogs (+34 dead), 1378 spring peepers (+106 dead), 21 American toads, 8 gray tree frogs, and 4 bullfrogs. Total: 1,848 live + 144 dead. We  look forward to welcoming the broader community back to this site when we resume Big Night road closures in 2021!

Old Concord Road. While en route to Jordan Road, one volunteer discovered a new-to-us crossing on Old Concord Road, safely crossing 4 spotted salamanders, 12 wood frogs, and 1 American toad in just 10 minutes on a single night. Total: 17 live.

Nelson

Granite Lake Road. Over 2 crossing nights, 3 enthusiastic volunteers assisted 24 spotted salamanders (+2 dead), 2 red-backed salamanders (+ 1 dead), 5 two-lined salamanders, 4 newts (+ 2 dead), 19 wood frogs (+ 3 dead), 100 spring peepers (+7 dead), 1 pickerel frog, 1 green frog, and 1 bullfrog on Granite Lake Road, near the Nelson School. Total: 160 live + 20 dead.

Nelson Road. In 4 nighttime forays, 9 volunteers crossed a biodiverse array of 11 species, including 39 spotted salamanders (+4 dead), 1 spring salamander, 2 red-backed salamanders (+1 dead), 14 newts (+11 dead), 1 two-lined salamander, 36 wood frogs (+6 dead), 206 spring peepers (+35 dead), 1 American toad (+1 dead), 1 pickerel frog, 6 green frogs (+1 dead), and 1 bullfrog. Total: 308 live + 59 dead.

Peterborough

Six people wearing reflective vests and carrying flashlights stand next to a sign that says, "Caution Salamander Crossing." (photo © Sarah Murphy)

THANK YOU to the Peterborough Conservation Commission for these fantastic signs for the Summer Street crossing! There’s no question that the signs improved safety at the site, for volunteers and amphibians alike. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

Summer Street.  Over 6 different rain events, 10 dedicated Crossing Brigadiers crossed and counted 63 spotted salamanders (+8 dead), 3 red-backed salamanders, 10 newts (+2 dead), 1 four-toed salamander, 247 wood frogs (+68 dead), 227 spring peepers (+53 dead), 28 American toads (+3 dead), 6 gray tree frogs (+1 dead), 2 pickerel frogs, and 21 green frogs (+1 dead). Tremendous thanks to the Peterborough Conservation Commission and Peterborough DPW for the fantastic “Salamander Crossing” and “Volunteers Ahead” road signs they provided for this site! Total: 608 live + 134 dead.

Spofford

Lincoln Road. On a single night, a family of 5 crossed 14 spotted salamanders, 27 red-backed salamanders, 1 newt, 6 wood frogs, 20 spring peepers, 12 American toads, and 2 unidentified amphibians. Total: 82 live.

Route 63. In a single outing, terrific trio assisted 62 live spotted salamanders (+15 dead) and 7 live newts across the ever-busy Route 63. Total: 69 live + 15 dead.

Zinn Road. A solo volunteer crossed and counted 6 species on a single outing, including 14 spotted salamanders (+5 dead), 20 red-backed salamanders, 5 wood frogs, 2 live peepers (+2 dead), 35 American toads, and 6 green frogs. Total: 82 live + 7 dead.

Swanzey

A pickerel frog in hand. (photo © Rebecca Coleman)

Pickerel frogs: pretty as a picture. (photo © Rebecca Coleman)

Matthews Road. In 2 nights, a solo salamander superhero crossed 23 spotted salamanders (+8 dead), 1 newt, 3 wood frogs (+1 dead), 73 spring peepers (+6 dead), 11 American toads (+4 dead), 2 pickerel frogs, 1 bullfrog, and 2 unidentified amphibians. Total: 116 live + 20 dead. This site needs more help in 2021!

Swanzey Lake Road. Over the course of 2 nights, 2 families crossed 10 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 6 red-backed salamanders (+3 dead), 7 wood frogs (+4 dead), and 25 spring peepers (+5 dead). Total: 48 live + 13 dead.

Walpole

Prospect Hill Road/Maple Grove Road. On a single outing at this newly-scouted site, a mother-daughter team assisted 2 spotted salamanders, 76 spring peepers (+9 dead), 2 green frogs, and 5 bullfrogs (+1 dead). Total: 85 live + 10 dead.

Westmoreland

A juvenile spotted salamander in hand. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

The world is undoubtedly a happier place with juvenile spotted salamanders in it — and with Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers who keep them safe on rainy nights. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Glebe Road. Two families accomplished an incredible amount of amphibian aid over the course of 5 nights at Glebe Road in 2020. Together, they crossed and counted 306 spotted salamanders (+5 dead), 2 Jefferson salamanders, 5 red-backed salamanders (+2 dead), 126 newts (+49 dead), 6 wood frogs (+2 dead), 1059 spring peepers (+62 dead), 94 American toads (+2 dead), 1 four-toed salamander, 2 two-lined salamanders, 49 pickerel frogs (+1 dead), 27 green frogs (+2 dead), and 18 bullfrogs. Total: 1,695 live + 125 dead.

Three cheers for the Salamander Crossing Brigades! The last few months have been dark and difficult for so many, but your care for our fellow creatures — rainy night after rainy night, year after year — are an inspiration, moving brightly through the night. We fervently hope that, come next spring, we’ll be back on the salamander beat together once again, and able to welcome new volunteers to the fold….

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May 15, 2020

A Toad-Filled Postscript to Salamander Season

Thunderstorms swept through the Monadnock Region early in the evening on May 15. When the storm was over, warm temperatures and wet roads prompted an explosion of toad activity at at least one crossing site.

Harrisville

A toad crossing the road. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A toad out on the town on May 15.
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Breed & Nelson Roads at Childs Bog. In just over an hour, a solo amphibian aficionado crossed 9 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 2 red efts, 1 spring salamander, 2 spring peepers (+2 dead), 67 American toads (+4 dead), 2 pickerel frogs, and 5 bullfrogs (+1 dead) — for a total of at least 88 live amphibians. Dozens of bullfrogs and peepers went uncounted, as it was simply too busy for one person to cross them all. All of the spotted salamanders were leaving the water. The toads were just beginning to trill, pickerel frogs were growling, peepers were roaring, and bats were swooping insects out of the air just above the water. All in all, a magical night to bring salamander season to its close.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from May 15? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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May 1, 2020

May Day Migration

A spotted salamander egg mass. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Spotted salamander egg masses have now appeared in many Monadnock Region vernal pools. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

If the May Day migration is any indication, salamander season is on the wane. Toads and gray tree frogs were out in force on Friday night, along with an interesting diversity of other species, but spotted salamander numbers were low. It’s likely many of them migrated back out of their breeding pools in the midnight-to-dawn deluge on April 30 into May 1. We’ll keep our eye on the forecast for a while longer yet, just in case, but the migration is likely nearing its end for 2020. Here’s the site-by-site report from May 1:

Keene

Jordan Road. A light rain at sundown tapered off around 9 p.m., then turned on for half an hour at the strike of 10, as five volunteers scanned for amphibians in small, socially distant groups. In just over three hours, they collectively crossed 4 spotted salamanders, 2 Jefferson complex salamanders, 1 newt (+1 dead), 37 red-backed salamanders (+3 dead), 8 wood frogs (+1 dead), 8 spring peepers (+5 dead), 1 American toad, 4 gray tree frogs, and many segmented annelid earthworms — for a total of 65 live (+11 dead) amphibians. Of note: all of the Jefferson salamanders and wood frogs were headed back to the uplands, their breeding done for the year, and most of the spotties were quite small in size.

A gray tree frog gets a helping hand. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

On a cuteness scale of 1 to 10, gray tree frogs are a 23. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

North Lincoln Street. A warmer night with light rainfall brought out seven socially-distanced human volunteers, as well as representatives of eight different amphibian species. In two and half hours, the Crossing Brigadiers provided safe passage for 4 spotted salamanders, 2 red efts (+1 dead), 3 red-backed salamanders, 11 wood frogs (+1 dead), 125 peepers (+11 dead), 9 American toads, 8 well-camouflaged gray tree frogs, and 4 bullfrogs, 166 live amphibians (+13 dead) in all. As at Jordan Road, all of the wood frogs were headed back to the woods. The toads and gray tree frogs were all making their way to the wetland. Listen for them trilling on the next warm nights!

Nelson

Nelson Road. On her way home from another crossing site, a solo salamander admirer stopped to cross 3 spotted salamanders (+ noted 2 dead), 1 American toad, 1 bullfrog, and 1 spring salamander — a rare sight, as they typically spend all their time in streams! Earlier in the evening, a mother-daughter duo crossed 36 peepers (+14 dead) and 1 wood frog before the deafening roar of the peepers in the wetland sent them home for ear protection. All told, 43 amphibians were provided safe passage on Nelson Road on May Day.

Peterborough

Summer Street. Our dedicated Summer Street duo crossed 4 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 3 newts (+1 dead), 19 wood frogs (+5 dead), 31 spring peepers (+5 dead), 18 American toads (+1 dead), 6 gray tree frogs (+1 dead), and 6 green frogs, 87 live amphibians (+14 dead) in all. They also found a “small but feisty” juvenile water snake making its way across the road!

Westmoreland

A toad on a road. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A toad on a road. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Glebe Road. A truly terrific trio were greeted with the deafening calls of a loud spring peeper chorus as they arrived at Glebe Road to assist migrating amphibians. Together, the family crossed 2 spotted salamanders were crossed, 11 newts (+14 dead), 1 red-backed salamander (+1 dead), 200 spring peepers (+16 dead), 26 American toads (+1 dead), 3 green frogs, and 14 pickerel frogs (+1 dead) — for a total of 257 live amphibians (+35 dead). Of note: the spotties may be done at this site for the year, as the nearby pools were absent adults, but teeming with egg masses.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from May 1? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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April 30, 2020

Another Big Night (Probably…)

A wood frog makes its way across North Lincoln Street in Keene on April 30, 2020. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

This wood frog was homeward bound on April 30, its breeding and courtship over the year — and a sign that we’re nearing the end of the spring migration. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Warm rain moved through the Monadnock Region in the very wee hours of April 30 into May 1. After more than two weeks of cold and/or dry nights, it’s likely that many of the thousands of amphibians who migrated to their breeding pools on April 13 took this opportunity to migrate back to the woods. We can’t say for sure, as we don’t know anyone who was out after midnight to confirm, but it’s nice to think of our four-legged friends making their way home without the threat of early evening traffic.

It did rain earlier in the day, with wet roads lingering in some places after dark, so we do have a few reports to share of the trickle that preluded what we assume was a deluge of amphibian movement. Happily, this small bit of surveying helped us surpass the 5,000-mark for crossed critters in 2020. Read on for the details:

Keene

A spotted salamander smiling in the hands of a Crossing Brigade volunteer. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

That smile never gets old. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

North Lincoln Street. Four Crossing Brigadiers spent two hours patrolling wet roads under dry skies at North Lincoln Street, and provided safe passage for 3 spotted salamanders, 1 red eft, 5 wood frogs, 1 American toad, and 127 peepers (+15 dead), for a total of 137 live amphibians. All of the spotted salamanders were headed towards the wetland. All of the wood frogs and about two-thirds of the peepers were headed away, a sign that the migration season will soon be coming to a close.

Nelson

Nelson Road. On her way home from North Lincoln, a solo amphibian admirer stopped to cross 8 spotted salamanders and 1 spring peeper, 9 amphibians in all.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from April 30? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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April 13, 2020

A Classic Big Night

A green frog on the road. (photo © Dallas Huggins)

Amphibians of all stripes and sizes were afoot on April 13 — including this charming green frog.
(photo © Dallas Huggins)

Following a daylong drenching that ended shortly after sunset and with temperatures in the mid-50s, amphibians of all stripes and sizes were out in huge numbers on Monday night! Our Salamander Crossing Brigadiers crossed more than 2,500 individual amphibians, representing 13 different species, at 19 different sites on Monday — bringing our season total to 4,888 crossed critters. Most of the wood frogs were heading back to the woods, their breeding done for the year, but the spotted salamanders, Jefferson salamanders, toads, and others were still making their way to the water — a sign that we’re about halfway through the migration season. Read on for site-by-site details.

Concord

A spotted salamander with very few spots. (photo © Emma Gagne)

A nearly spotless spottie, found on Fisk Road on April 13. (photo © Emma Gagne)

Fisk Road. In two hours, five salamander superheroes shepherded 10 different amphibian species to safety, many of whom were on the move even after the rain tapered off. Their totals included 26 spotted salamanders (one with nearly no spots!), 1 Jefferson salamander, 2 red-backed salamanders, and 1 newt, along with an assortment of frogs and toads: 14 wood frogs, 15 spring peepers, 1 gray tree frog, 20 green frogs (+1 dead), 8 bullfrogs, and 3 American toads. Grand total for the evening: 91 live amphibians.

Deering

Two Crossing Brigade volunteers in reflective vests smile with a spotted salamander. (photo © Amy Cate)

The Deering crew. (photo © Amy Cate)

Route 149. A tried-and-true trio of Crossing Brigadiers provided safe passage for 19 spotted salamanders (and recorded 7 dead), 5 newts (+4 dead), 8 wood frogs (+2 dead), 2 American toads, and 4 bullfrogs (+3 dead), 38 live amphibians in all.

Hancock

Antrim Road. A family of four was excited to see the high levels of activity and diversity on their road for this Big Night. Together, they crossed 7 spotted salamanders, 29 red-backed salamanders, 3 Eastern newts (+1 dead), 1 two-lined salamander, 1 wood frog, 46 spring peepers (+1 dead), 1 gray tree frog, 6 pickerel frogs, and 1 bullfrog, for a total of 95 live amphibians of 9 different species in just an hour and a half.

Harrisville

Chesham Road. On her way home from another site, a solo Crossing Brigadier moved 4 spotted salamanders and 5 toads to safety in a single pass through Chesham Road, 9 live amphibians in all.

An American toad, held in a person's hand. (photo © Amy Cate)

An American toad — indignant, as ever — is moved to safety on April 13. (photo © Amy Cate)

Hancock Road. A terrific trio crossed 12 spotted salamanders, 2 red-backed salamanders, 2 newts, 1 two-lined salamander, 29 wood frogs (+1 dead), 19 spring peepers, and 1 American toad, for a total of 66 live amphibians representing 7 species in just an hour and a half. They reported that many more amphibians safely crossed themselves at this site, and that “Hancock Road is the spot!”

Jaffrey

Lacy Road. A solo salamander savior was out for an hour on Lacy Road, where she crossed 3 spotted salamanders, 4 red-backed salamanders, 8 wood frogs, 3 spring peepers, 3 American toads, 1 gray tree frog, and 1 green frog, 23 live amphibians in all. She noted that the spotted salamanders have been found on the same 2-foot section of roadway every year for at least the past 6 years.

Keene

A wood frog in hand. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

One of the lucky ones. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

Eastern Avenue. On her way home from another site, a solo Crossing Brigadier moved 3 wood frogs to safety at Eastern Avenue, and depressingly noted dozens, if not scores, of dead frogs splattered across the road. The migration is likely nearing its end at this site for 2020, but it could certainly use a little extra love from the Crossing Brigade crew in 2021. Eastern Ave experiences extremely high traffic volume and speed, so Crossing Brigadiers must be vigilant about safety here (reflective vest, bright flashlight, stepping aside at the first sound of a passing car). This is not a family-friendly site.

Jordan Road. It was a Big Night for salamanders at Jordan Road, where 11 socially distant volunteers shepherded 60 spotted salamanders to safety (+6 dead), as well as 8 Jefferson salamanders and 13 red-backed salamanders (+2 dead). Interestingly, two of the red-backeds were erythristic, which is a natural color morph of this species that appears as a very bright orange. The Jordan Road crew also crossed 29 wood frogs (+5 dead), 21 spring peepers (+5 dead), and 1 American toad (+1 dead), for a nightly total of 132 live amphibians (+18 dead). All of the wood frogs were returning to the woods, their courtship and breeding done for the year.

A green frog on the road. (photo © Rebecca Coleman)

A gorgeous green frog makes its way on April 13, with a little help from the Crossing Brigades. (photo © Rebecca Coleman)

North Lincoln Street. Seventeen volunteers ventured to keep socially distant from one another as they surveyed for crossing amphibians for close to three hours amid a loud soundtrack of chorusing peepers and wood frogs. Collectively, the North Lincoln Street crew crossed a whopping 359 spring peepers (+7 dead), 26 wood frogs (+4 dead), 9 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 10 American toads, and 2 green frogs, and noted 2 dead newts — 408 live amphibians (+13 dead) in all. Of note: one-third of the peepers, and about half of the wood frogs, were headed away from the wetland. In addition, many flying insects came out following the rain, including the first head-buzzing black flies of the season.

Old Concord Road. On her way to another crossing site, a solo Crossing Brigadier moved 4 spotted salamanders, 12 wood frogs, and 1 American toad across Old Concord Road — 17 live amphibians in all — and noted dozens more wood frogs on the hop. This is a site to watch in future years!

A gentle reminder: this spring, if you arrive at a crossing site and see 10 or more volunteers already there, please leave and head to a different site with fewer humans. We’ll call out the Brigades in force again next spring, but we must take social distancing seriously right now.

Nelson

A spotted salamander on the road. (photo © Dallas Huggins)

A spotted salamander steps out into Big Night.
(photo © Dallas Huggins)

Granite Lake Road. The rain let up just after 8 p.m., but dry skies did not deter the amphibian migration across wet roads in Nelson. At Granite Lake Road, three courageous Crossing Brigadiers spent as many hours crossing 24 spotted salamanders (+2 dead), 2 red-backed salamanders (+1 dead), 4 eastern newts (+2 dead), 5 two-lined salamanders, 18 wood frogs (+3 dead), 98 spring peepers (+7 dead), 1 pickerel frog, 1 green frog, and 4 bull frogs, 157 live amphibians (+20 dead) in all. Several wood frog egg masses were noted in nearby water drainage culverts.

Nelson Road. Seven volunteers were out and about on Nelson Road. Collectively, they provided safe passage for 28 spotted salamanders (+ noted 2 dead), 13 newts (+11 dead), 1 two-lined salamander, 154 spring peepers (+ 20 dead), 24 wood frogs (+5 dead), 1 pickerel frog, and 6 green frogs (+1 dead), and found 1 dead American toad. Grand total for the night: 230 live amphibians (+42 dead). Spotted salamanders were seen congressing in a roadside ditch, as well as a nearby woodland vernal pool.

Peterborough

Two Crossing Brigade volunteers in reflective vests smile with a spotted salamander. (photo © Matt Patterson)

The couple that crosses salamanders together stays together! (photo © Matt Patterson)

Summer Street. It was a high-diversity night on Summer Street, where nine species were enjoyed by eight volunteers over the course of three hours. Collectively, the Summer Street crew crossed 39 spotted salamanders (+4 dead), 3 red-backed salamanders, 4 eastern newts (+1 dead), 42 wood frogs (+13 dead), 131 spring peepers (+30 dead), 10 American toads (+2 dead), 1 four-toed salamander, 2 pickerel frogs, and 15 green frogs (+1 dead), for a total of 247 live amphibians (+54 dead). One volunteer noted that there were too many peepers to fully count, and that they seemed to be “having a grand ol’ time hanging out in the road.”

Spofford

Lincoln Road. A family of five crossed and counted 14 spotted salamanders, 27 red-backed salamanders, 1 red eft, 1 unidentified salamander, 6 wood frogs, 20 spring peepers, 1 pickerel or leopard frog, 1 green frog, and 12 American toads, for a total of 83 live amphibians. They reported that, “It was a wonderful adventure and a lovely night that we really enjoyed.”

A pickerel frog in hand. (photo © Rebecca Coleman)

A particularly fetching pickerel frog gets a helping hand.
(photo © Rebecca Coleman)

Old Swanzey, Tuttle, and Atherton Hill Roads. One roving Crossing Brigadier crossed 14 spotted salamanders (+5 dead), 20 red-backed salamanders, 5 wood frogs, 2 spring peepers (+2 dead), 35 American toads, and 6 green frogs — 82 live amphibians in all — on a walking route through his neighborhood.

Route 63. ­In three hours along Route 63, three Crossing Brigadiers moved 62 spotted salamanders (+15 dead) and 7 eastern newts to safety, 69 live salamanders (+15 dead) in all.

Swanzey

Matthews Road. In two hours at Matthew Road, a solo salamander superhero crossed 23 spotted salamanders (+8 dead), 1 newt, 3 wood frogs (+1 dead), 61 spring peepers (+4 dead), 11 American toads (+4 dead), 2 pickerel frogs, 1 bullfrog, and 2 unidentified frogs — 104 live amphibians (+20 dead) in all.

Walpole

Prospect Hill Road & Maple Grove Road. A new family of Crossing Brigadiers investigated a site at the corner of Prospect Hill and Maple Grove Roads in Walpole, where they crossed 2 spotted salamanders, 76 spring peepers (+9 dead), 2 green frogs, and 5 bullfrogs (+1 dead), for a total of 85 live amphibians in just over an hour.

A bucket full of amphibians. (photo © Stephen Lowe)

When you have as many amphibians as they do at Glebe Road, you need a bucket to carry them all across! This bucket full of spotted salamanders and American toads represents less than five minutes of survey time on April 13.
(photo © Stephen Lowe)

Westmoreland

Glebe Road. It was a jaw-dropping night at Glebe Road, where two socially-distant duos crossed a whopping 240 spotted salamanders (+4 dead), 2 Jefferson salamanders, 4 red-backed salamanders, 1 two-lined salamander, 20 Eastern newts (+6 dead), 2 wood frogs, 240 spring peepers (+10 dead), 68 American toads (+1 dead), 34 pickerel frogs, 22 green frogs (+2 dead), and 17 bullfrogs. Grand total: 650 live amphibians (+23 dead) in just under four hours.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from April 13? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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April 3, 2020

The Migration Continues…

A toad pauses in a road. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Toads (well, one toad….) made their first appearance of the year in Keene on April 3. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Higher-elevation towns like Nelson saw their first migration of the season on April 3, with lots of wood frog chorusing on April 4 and 5 to prove it! In other news, American toads made their first, chilly appearance of the year in Keene, and — even with a significantly scaled-down effort this spring — we reached a milestone of 2,000 crossed critters (…and counting!) for the season. Read on for site-by-site details.

Concord

Fisk Road.  The Fisk Road crew had a surprisingly quiet night, with just 1 spring peeper (+1 dead) in an hour and a half of looking. Wood frogs were chorusing in nearby vernal pools, but the peepers were silent.

Hancock

Antrim Road. Two families spent an hour surveying for migrating amphibians on this cool Friday night, with temperatures in the low 40s and a light sprinkle falling. They found one dead Eastern newt, and crossed 2 wood frogs and 7 spring peepers, for a total of 9 live frogs.

Keene

A female wood frog, crossing North Lincoln Street in Keene. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

The majority of wood frogs at the Keene crossings were females, distinguished this time of year by their plump bellies (full of eggs!) and peach or orange coloration.
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Eastern Avenue. On her way home from the Jordan Road crossing (see below), one longtime Crossing Brigadier stopped by Eastern Avenue, where she crossed 4 live wood frogs and counted 15 dead.

Jordan Road. Two families spent more than two hours crossing critters in a light mist on Jordan Road. Their tallies included 2 Jefferson salamanders, 5 spotted salamanders, 5 red-backed salamanders (+1 dead), and on the frog front, 4 wood frogs and 2 spring peepers — 18 individual amphibians in all.

North Lincoln Street. It was a biodiversity-rich evening on North Lincoln Street, as many temperate forest dwellers seemed to be taking advantage of the lighter vehicle traffic! A male woodcock was heard displaying at dusk, and later in the evening, a skunk was seen heading into the cemetery. Perhaps most exciting of all: a solo volunteer scouting for frogs heard a scurry, and looked upslope to see two black bears, just eight feet away (!) The volunteer’s verbal exclamations caused at least one of the bears to climb a nearby white pine tree, and that section of road was avoided for some time afterward to give the bears proper social distance. On the amphibian front, nine volunteers in small, socially-distanced groups spent two hours scanning for salamanders and frogs. In that time, they crossed 4 spotted salamanders, 1 red-backed salamander, 1 red eft, 36 wood frogs (mostly females), the first American toad of the season, and a whopping 362 spring peepers (+53 dead) — 405 live amphibians in all. All the while, they were serenaded by a full-throated chorus of peeping peepers and barking wood frogs.

Nelson

Nelson Road. A dedicated duo spent an hour and a half moving chilly, slow-moving amphibians to safety on Nelson Road, including 7 wood frogs, 15 spring peepers (+1 dead), and 1 Eastern newt. On her way from from another site, a third Brigadier stopped to cross 4 more wood frogs (+1 dead), for a site total of 27 live amphibians.

Peterborough

A Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteer admires a spotted salamander. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

Pam Murphy shares a special moment with a  Summer Street spottie.
(photo © Sarah Thomas)

Summer Street. A longtime salamander superhero brought out a first-time family member for a memorable night of crossing amphibians at Summer Street. The first significant observation of salamander movement at this site kept them out for nearly five rainy hours; they were joined by another family of two, from a safe distance, for a short while. Their tallies include 19 spotted salamanders (+3 dead), 2 newts, 70 wood frogs (+4 dead), 44 peepers (+9 dead), and 1 dead red-backed salamander, for a total of 135 live amphibians.

Swanzey

Swanzey Lake Road. Two families surveyed Swanzey Lake Road for two and a half hours, where they crossed and counted 10 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 6 red-backed salamanders (+3 dead), 3 wood frogs (+1 dead), and 25 spring peepers (+5 dead), for a total of 44 live amphibians.

Westmoreland

Glebe Road. Two families of four (separately) spent five hours moving migrating amphibians to safety at Glebe Road. Collectively, they crossed 61 spotted salamanders, 1 four-toed salamander, 36 eastern newts (+19 dead), 2 wood frogs, 1 green frog, and a jaw-dropping 464 spring peepers (+19 dead) — 565 live amphibians in all. Amphibian traffic was steady, though slow-moving in the chill air. Canada geese and barred owls (who were also likely searching for salamanders…) were noted as well.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from April 3? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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April 2, 2020

A Slow, Chilly Night

It was only 37°, but some frogs forged ahead!

Keene

This time of year, female wood frogs are often noticeably rounder and redder than males. (photo © Fred Shirley)

North Lincoln Street. In just under three hours, two solo Crossing Brigadiers — maintaining ample social distance from each other — crossed 23 live wood frogs (+2 dead) and 7 spring peepers (+1 dead), for a total of 30 live frogs. They reported that “most of the wood frogs were females, rosy-peach in color with swollen sides, full of eggs.”

Peterborough

Summer Street. A solo superhero crossed 28 live wood frogs (+1 dead) and 1 spring peeper in just over three hours, 29 live frogs in all.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from April 2? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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March 29, 2020

A Night Cut Short by Thunderstorms

Crossing Brigade volunteers headed out to at least three sites on the evening of March 29, but had to leave in short order, as a line of severe thunderstorms worked its way through the region. Meanwhile, the frogs hopped on…

Keene

A spring peeper on a road. (photo © Dave Huth)

A peeper contemplates the meaning of life while crossing the road on a wet spring night. (photo © Dave Huth)

Jordan Road. A longtime Crossing Brigade couple attempted to assist amphibians at Jordan Road, though their efforts were limited to a half-hour due to the advancing spring thunderstorm that brought heavy wind, pelting rain, and even hail. They found one dead peeper, but no live amphibians.

North Lincoln Street. One steadfast volunteer scanned for migrating amphibians for an hour despite the whipping winds of a developing thunderstorm. He crossed 3 wood frogs and 5 peepers — 8 frogs in all — before seeking shelter from the storm.

Swanzey

Matthews Road. A dedicated Crossing Brigadier moved 12 spring peepers to safety (+ noted 2 dead) in just under an hour, before the lighting and precipitation became too severe and she had to head home.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share, pre- or post-storm, from March 29? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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March 28, 2020

A Tiny Night in Nelson

A wood frog, with a gloved hand in the background. (photo © Evan Meeker)

The first wood frog of 2020 at Granite Lake Road in Nelson. (photo © Evan Meeker)

The rain came in cold and late, but a few frogs were afoot.

Nelson

Granite Lake Road. A dynamic duo scouted for amphibians for an hour in cold drizzle, crossing 1 wood frog and 2 spring peepers. These observant folks also noted 6 eastern newts intuitively using alternate crossing measures: culverts under the road, which safely delivered them to a nearby wetland.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from March 28? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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March 20, 2020
Three pictures of the same spotted salamander, taken in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Visit us on Flickr for larger versions of this and other photos of uniquely identified spotted salamanders.

A Postscript

After examining photographs taken on March 20, we were able to identify one individual salamander who was moved across North Lincoln Street in Keene in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Same salamander, all three years, as verified by its one-of-a-kind spot pattern! In 2020, the early arrival of spring prompted this salamander to migrate a full two weeks earlier than the prior two years.

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March 20, 2020

A Big Night for Frogs

Wood frogs in amplexus on North Lincoln Street. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Not everyone was practicing social distancing…
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

It only rained briefly and shortly before nightfall on the evening of March 20. However, warm temperatures and a good pre-dawn soaking must have primed the pump for amphibian movement, as frogs were out in force on wet roads under dry skies! Our Salamander Crossing Brigades were smaller by necessity, but they still managed to move 949 amphibians to safety. Read on for site-by-site details:

Concord

Fisk Road.  In one hour, a duo of dedicated amphibian assistants provided safe passage to Fisk Road’s first spotted salamander of this year, in addition to 18 wood frogs (+3 who were not as fortunate), 19 live amphibians in all. They also reported an American woodcock at sunset, heralding the return of drier conditions.

Keene

A spotted salamander looks to the future. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A spotted salamander looks to the future.
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

North Lincoln Street. Socially-distanced small groups (10 volunteers total over a three-hour period, working solo or as families) crossed the first 7 spotted salamanders of the season at this site, along with 280 wood frogs (+32 dead), and a whopping, hopping 371 spring peepers (+9 dead). In addition, an early morning Brigadier crossed 13 wood frogs during a single pass in pre-dawn rain — for a total of 671 live amphibians.

Peterborough

Summer Street. A dynamic duo crossed 4 different species in just under two hours, including 1 spotted salamander, 1 Eastern newt, 86 wood frogs (+41 dead), and 20 spring peepers (+9 dead), 108 live amphibians in all. They were greeted by the sound of chirping peepers in the woods, and others were certainly eager to join the chorus.

A hand holding a spring peeper. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

A spring peeper gets a helping hand at Summer Street in Peterborough. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

Westmoreland

Glebe Road. A family of three spent two hours crossing critters on a mostly dry and blustery night, including 3 spotted salamanders (+1 dead), 1 two-lined salamander, 35 Eastern newts (+9 dead), 1 pickerel frog, 1 green frog, 1 wood frog (+1 dead), and an impressive 109 spring peepers (+13 dead) — 151 live amphibians representing 7 different species in all!

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from March 20? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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March 10, 2020

The Faintest Trickle of Migration

A wood frog on a data sheet. (photo © Kathy Huston)

This is what we refer to as “data.” (photo © Kathy Huston)

Temperatures in the 50s (and even low 60s!) and a light mist spurred a handful of amphibians to action on the evening of March 10. Of note: first appearances by Jefferson, four-toed, and red-backed salamanders, as well as bullfrogs and Eastern newts.

Concord

Fisk Road. The dedicated Concord contingent spent an hour on the road, and crossed 1 four-toed salamander, 4 live wood frogs (+ 6 dead), and 1 spring peeper, 6 live amphibians in all.

Keene

Eastern Ave. A longtime Brigadier crossed 3 wood frogs (+ 1 dead) and 2 peepers in just 15 minutes at Eastern Ave., for a total of 5 live frogs.

The first Jefferson salamander of 2020 at Jordan Road. (photo © Kathy Huston)

The first Jefferson salamander of 2020 makes an appearance at Jordan Road.
(photo © Kathy Huston)

Jordan Road. A lone star volunteer crossed the first Jefferson salamander of the 2020 season at Jordan Road! She also safely crossed 2 wood frogs and documented 2 dead wood frogs at this site, for a total of 3 live amphibians.

North Lincoln Street. Just after sunset, a dynamic duo was greeted by a foraging big brown bat swooping above the road. The wildlife sights and sounds continued, with a woodcock peenting into the night and a gray fox skittering under shrubs. On the amphibian front, the North Lincoln Street team successfully crossed 4 wood frogs and 8 spring peepers (+ 2 dead), for a total of 12 live frogs in just under 3 hours.

Swanzey

Swanzey Lake Road. A terrific twosome crossed 4 wood frogs (+3 dead) in just over an hour at Swanzey Lake Road.

Peterborough

Summer Street. One dedicated volunteer surveyed the migration situation on Summer Street for an hour on this barely misting night. In that time, she provided safe passage for 2 live wood frogs, who were still a bit cold and sluggish after emerging from their winter burrows. She also recorded 4 unfortunate wood frogs whose end was the road.

Westmoreland

Glebe Road. A trio of Brigadiers worked under a steady, light rain to cross a diverse spectrum of amphibians on this early (not even) spring night. Their tallies include: 24 Eastern newts (+ 1 dead), 1 wood frog, 46 spring peepers (+ 4 dead), and 1 bullfrog. They also noted 1 dead red-backed salamander. Grand total? 72 live amphibians of 4 different species in just 2 hours.

Do you have amphibian tallies or photos to share from March 10? We’ll update this report and the Salamander Crossing Brigade album on Flickr as we receive counts and photos, so send ’em on in!

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March 3, 2020

The First Stirrings…

A wood frog pauses on North LIncoln Street. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A wood frog contemplates climate change at North Lincoln Street on March 3, 2020. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

March 3 was not a “Big” or even a “Small” Night, but it was certainly notable for its timing. In fifteen years of keeping track, we’ve only noted one instance of an earlier appearance by wood frogs and spring peepers in the Monadnock Region (2/25/17). Barring any surprise March snowstorms, it’s likely that we’re in for a very early salamander season this year.

Concord

Fisk Road. A solo Brigadier crossed 1 live wood frog (+ 1 dead) in a half-hour on the road.

Keene

North Lincoln Street. While aboveground conditions were ideal for a migration, the forest floor hadn’t thawed sufficiently for significant movement. Still, a small crew of veteran Crossing Brigade volunteers moved 2 wood frogs and 2 spring peepers across North Lincoln Street, for a total of 4 frogs in 3 hours of looking.

Eastern Avenue. A passing Crossing Brigadier  noted 1 wood frog at Eastern Avenue, and 2 spring peepers on nearby Chapman Road.

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Contact Us

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