Herping with High School Students

Last night I accompanied a group of high school students into the floodplains of the Cuyahoga River to see what we could turn up. Usually we go later in the year, but it’s been warm and the frogs have been calling. Often we catch the tail end of Spring Peeper season and the beginning of American Toad and Leopard Frog season. There do not appear to be any salamanders breeding in the pools. We started out at a small pond getting some practice in listening to and locating Spring Peepers.

There’s a bit of a contest between the students as to who can locate the first one (it’s not as easy as you might think). This year Andy found the first one. He had a bunch of good finds last night.

After the students got an understanding of the challenge and were given the basic overview of why frogs call, satellite males, breeding competition, etc., it was time to head into the valley.

We could hear the long trills of American Toads as well as the occasional “snores” of Leopard Frogs through the constant calling of Spring Peepers. This wasn’t a herp, but it is one of my favorite invertebrates – an Eastern Toebiter – we also saw a few Water Scorpions.

We’ve never found reptiles on previous trips to this location this early in the year, but last night was different.

Northern Brown Snake

Then Andy started catching turtles; a few turned up in the floodplains yesterday.

Can I get a closer picture of that Midland Painted Turtle, Andy?

Spring Peepers were what the students were finding the most of, but bigger frogs were caught as well.

Northern Leopard Frog

Megan caught the second snake of the night.

Eastern Garter Snake

Although they are rather loud, Spring Peepers are very small. It can be a frustrating experience to locate one, even if it’s only a couple of feet away and calling. This photo gives an idea of how tiny they are.

There’s no time like Toad Time, and a fair number of American Toads were found, though they were not calling in full force yet.

Most of the twenty-something students found and/or caught an amphibian.

My 10 year old nephew Max and I were bent on catching a Western Chorus Frog. We heard a few calling, but they eluded us. We had a pretty good time anyway.

Third Eye

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