water, water, everywhere

After two days of pouring rain, South Buffalo Creek has swollen to double its normal size. In some places, the creek has overrun its banks, sending the swirling water into overflow channels carved out during previous spring storms. Once the fields became saturated, the water streamed down both sides of our lane. Among the creatures enjoying this deluge are the northern peepers – the rain recharged the wetlands in our front field where these tiny frogs are in full mating mode. It’s spring in the Blue Ridge!

Photo by Jo Ann Abell

Swollen South Buffalo Creek

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jeepers! peepers!

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This week we began hearing the high-pitched calls of the male northern spring peepers in our front field. They are calling to attract a female. After mating, the female lays several hundred eggs, which are attached to vegetation in permanent or vernal (temporary) ponds. In about two weeks, the eggs hatch and tadpoles metamorphose approximately three months later. When the breeding season is over, the peepers retreat upland to damp, wooded areas.

The wetlands in our front field were created several years ago when our neighbor put in a pond, the overflow from which, created a perfect breeding place for the peepers. Every evening, as the sun goes down behind the mountains, the chorus erupts. When hundreds of peepers add their voices to the chorus, the din sounds like distant sleigh bells. It’s an amazing thing to hear.

It is not half so important to know as to feel.  — Rachel Carson