The Pools Are Alive With Mating Calls
(Left) The abandon strip mines lining Boxcar Road come to life with wood frogs in search of a mate the last weekend of March in 2011. (Inset, Right) A wood frog floats upon the surface of an abandon strip mine.
- Photographs by Brandy M. Watts Martin
Wood frogs, which are 2 to 2.8 inches in length, hibernate close to the surface of soil/leaf litter and can tolerate having 65% of their total body water freeze during the winter months. They breed in fresh water, often woodland vernal pools along Stony Creek and abandoned strip mines along Boxcar Road.
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Come spring, adult wood frogs migrate to nearby pools and mines, where the males start their mating chorus that can often be heard echoing down Boxcar Road. Numerous females will lay their eggs next to each other, making an enjoining egg mass (the eggs in the center generally developing first). This is extremely important in the vernal pools (unlike the strip mines) as if the pools that dry up prior to the young wood frogs developing, they die. About 80% of the young frogs that survive return to the same strip mine / pool they were born in to reproduce.
When observing wood frogs, they will stop their chorus and hide upon your approach. If you pick a comfortable seat near the vernal pool or strip mine that wood frogs are present in, once they feel unharmed they will resume their chorus and once again float to the water’s surface.
DIRECTIONS: Park at the Boxcar Road Parking Lot. Walk east on Boxcar Road, an unmaintained dirt road, closed to vehicles. Within 0.5 miles to 2 miles, vernal ponds and abandoned strip mines filled with water will appear on both sides of the trail. The water in these is very deep so be careful and watch any children who may be with you! Listen closely in March and April and you may hear the mating calls of wood frogs!
Use State Game Lands #211 Map 3 of 3
StonyValley.com was created and is maintained by Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad Historian, Brandy M. Watts Martin. Copyright 2013.