April Showers Bring May Flowers… and officially kick off the Tri-State Region’s infamous Mud Season. Despite its gooey name, the surge of water throughout the Berkshires that has resulted from melting snow and warm spring rain is also accompanied by the rebirth of new life that reaches far beyond the budding plants and curious creatures. Hidden in plain sight amongst the Litchfield Hills are vernal pools that are home to innumerable species that rely upon this muddy softening of the earth each spring.
Vernal pools are a distinctive type of wetlands habitat that provide a unique environment for native amphibians and insects. They are unlike other ponds and small bodies of water due to their cyclical nature of filling with water from the seasonal inundation of runoff that is followed by a drying period of evapotranspiration. Larger predators and fish, who commonly feed upon unguarded eggs, do not exist within a vernal pond because of the temporary nature of these pools of water. Therefore this safe habitat allows many species of frogs, salamanders and insects to fully mature thus promoting the region’s vibrant ecosystem.
Vernal ponds, including those throughout the Berkshires, are teaming with life. Some of the most common inhabitants that you will find locally are: wood frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp, fingernail clams and a plethora of egg masses. Slip into your wellies and wade through the vernal ponds throughout the Tri-State region. We promise that you will be surprised by the wide array of life that exists only inches below the surface of this ephemeral ecological wonder that welcomes us each spring.
On April 11th you can join the entertaining and knowledgeable Conservation Ranger, Rene Wendell, at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Ashley Falls, MA on a guided tour through the waters of the Reservation’s large vernal pool.