Spotted Salamander – Photo by Tom Mann

Salamander Migration 2020 – Notes

Friday, January 3, 2020
All day rain on Thursday, January 2. Henry checked South Lakeshore Dr. before coming to our board meeting around 6:45. He didn’t see any salamanders and said the rain had let up. It rained again on Friday, from about noon on into the evening and at times fairly hard. There was a basketball game at the high school so quite a few cars were traveling South Lakeshore Friday night.

Ken and I made a pass in our vehicle along South Lakeshore Dr. around 5:45. Melonie McBrayer also checked around 6:00ish. Henry Hughes was there around 6:30 to 7:00. I went back around 7:10 and walked the road 2 to 3 times. Dr. Bakkegard was already there when I arrived and was walking the road and checking around the pools. Paul and Jack Freeman arrived around 7:30. They walked the road, walked around the pools on the south side of the road and walked part of the Forest Preserve trail looking for signs of salamanders. We all checked in the pond (s) for egg masses, salamanders and spermatophore, but saw nothing, except a DOR Leopard frog. We left around 8:15. The rain was mostly gone at that time. Betsy Dobbins checked the area just before dawn and didn’t see anything.

Friday, January 10, 2020
Rain was predicted. I looked outside before going to bed at 10:30 and there was no rain yet. I never heard it rain later. Jim Brown has better ears than me and he heard rain and went to look for spotted salamanders. Here is his report:
Michelle, Kristin & Megan:
I finally caught a nice Spotted for folks to handle at the festival — in a brief shower about 12:45 last night (the only salamander I saw and he was headed north across the road).  I’d made several passes in the half-hour before that, in little to no rain, only saw leopard & small bullfrogs.  I had stopped the car for about the third frog hopping across the road, when a barred owl swooped down on it.  It sat there a few seconds, turning its head towards the car and then away from it, finally flapped off into the woods with said frog.  Made me realize why Spotted salamanders usually wait for heavy rains to migrate.  Made me wonder why frogs don’t….

Monday, January 13, 2020
Rain was predicted for the evening and it started to rain in Homewood around 4:45. It was raining steady by 5:00, but it was still light outside. Dr. Kristin Bakkegard was out of town and headed back home and texted to see if someone was watching for Salamanders on South Lakeshore. I texted back that I would be there at 5:30 when it was dark. On my way over, Henry called and he arrived at South Lakeshore shortly after I did. I did the most stupid thing, I forgot my flashlight. I had remembered my umbrella, camera, and rain coat, though. So, first, I drove the road and didn’t see any salamanders. I parked on the High School side and walked east using my phone flashlight. The road had a fair number of cars coming from both directions and I was very cautious about getting off the road when one passed. At about 5:45, a car drove up next to me, and it was Henry. Right at that moment, we saw our first salamander. It was only about 4-5 inches long and in the middle of the road. I hurried to walk back to the high school side and Henry drove to the east side of South Lakeshore. We put up barricades left by the City of Homewood for us, simultaneously. It is hard to do this with less than two people, unless there is no traffic. Then we walked the road – on the first pass, we saw two more live on road (LOR) spotted salamanders, two dead ones (DOR), and a webster salamander. Later, in the evening, we saw 3 more LOR, all about the same size as the first one and all looked to be males. The rain was intermittent. On passes when it was raining harder, we were more likely to see salamanders. The majority were seen near the east end and some were seen near the Forest Preserve entry. Dr. Bakkegard arrived near 7:00 and after she checked for salamanders on the western section of South Lakeshore. She didn’t see any. I left South Lakeshore around 7:30-7:45. Henry and Kristin kept walking the road and saw 6 more spotted salamanders, a webster and a two lined. Stephanie, who contacted us through our website came out and walked with Henry and Kristin. Scott Hofer came out with his two sons. So, in total, Henry, Kristin, and Michelle saw 12 LOR and 2 DOR spotted salamanders, 2 websters, and 1 two-lined. The rain let up later in the night and the barricades were removed. Temperature was around 64 degrees around 6:00 p.m.