Spring at Calvert Cliffs

mioceneFrogging by ear tips, derived from yesterday’s walk to Calvert Cliffs on the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay with Stephanie Mason: Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor and H. chrysoscelis) sounds something like the ratchet on a retractable dog leash, while the irregular clicking sound of Cricket Frog (Acris sp.) resembles those annoying magnetic balls that my colleague Dylan likes to play with.

Once again, we saw elvers shimmying their way up Grays Creek. Eels (the young are elvers) are catadromous, that is they migrate downstream from fresh to salt water to breed then die, unlike the better known anadromous migrants (like salmon) that swim upstream to freshwater spawning grounds.

Also in the watercourse, we saw many Water Boatmen (Corixidae) sculling about.

Stephanie calls the 5-inch-long Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) our local iguana, since it is in the same superfamily as the big guys of the southwest.

baby leavesTrees were late leafing out (this is one of my favorite local species, Carpinus caroliniana, just opening up), so the birding was good. We heard or saw nearly three dozen species, and found two nests being built by Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (Polioptila caeruluea). The gnatcatchers showed some variety in vocalizations; one colloquy between two birds sounded like a couple of mockingbirds after too much espresso. My good bird was a fairly common species that I just don’t see very often, Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica).