April 23, 2013

New Life in a Vernal Pool

In early spring, it is magical to come across small bodies of water hidden in the woods, reflecting sky and trees on their glassy surfaces. These are vernal pools, whose water will evaporate later in the season.

They are filled with fallen leaves, branches, and downed trees, creating a rich visual stew, layered with actual and reflected objects.

Some reflections have their own artistry, with sensitively wriggling lines broken by the larger forms of leaf and moss covered branch.

The real action and wonder of these ponds is with the animal and insect life that they support. I was drawn to this pond, off my regular walking trail, by the loud singing of wood frogs who were busy reproducing in this tucked away place. You can see the large mass of eggs floating in the shallow water (more clearly seen if you click the photo to enlarge). And, at the upper left, there is a female laying eggs and a male atop a female.

In this species, the female is larger than the male. The male remains clasped on the female's back until she deposits her eggs, at which point he will deposit his sperm onto the eggs. From learning about this process here, I wonder why the female at the top has no male with her. It's fascinating to see this life going on around me, almost hidden, but prolific, a joyous part of spring.

*If you would like to hear the happy song of the wood frog, you can see my brief video of this vernal pool at this link on youtube. Putting a video into the blog post doesn't seem to work, so try the link, where the frogs sound like a flock of ducks.


  1. Lucky you having your own vernal pool to watch. I can just imagine the frogs hopping around calling and laying their eggs in there.

  2. Thank you for this brief glimpse into vernal pools with sounds to go along. I'm going to our "pocket park" down the street (actually a piece of land with no houses) and see if there are any such pools lurking there.

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this post, Lisa and Nancy.