Wake Audubon Blog

Ephemeral Ponds Field Trip

i Mar 28th No Comments by

Authored by Jeff Beane

On Saturday, 25 March, I led a field trip, “Ephemeral Ponds in the North Carolina Sandhills,” as a follow-up to my talk on ephemeral wetlands at the 14 March general meeting. Participating were Colleen Bockhahn, Genya Bragina, Chad Chandler, Carol Cunningham, Stephanie Horton, Annie Runyon, and Joanne St. Clair. We met at 9:30 a.m. at my Sandhills house near Hoffman and visited a variety of ephemeral wetlands (seven total) within the longleaf pine ecosystem in Scotland and Hoke counties. Sites ranged from large to small, from artificial borrow pits to clay-based Carolina Bays, and from completely dry to too-deep-for-hip-waders—well illustrating the nature of ephemeral wetlands. We turned up a total of 11 amphibian species (about four of them obligate ephemeral wetland breeders, and a few others heavily dependent upon ephemeral wetlands). We also turned up four lizard species, and saw three fox squirrels (a lifer for some trip participants) as well as many interesting plants, birds, and invertebrates. We made a few brief detours to look at a pitcher plant seep, radio-track a coachwhip, and visit the world champion turkey oak. The weather was beautiful—mostly sunny and 70s°F. We ended the enjoyable day with dinner in a Mexican restaurant in Aberdeen, and most folks headed back toward Raleigh at around 9:00 p.m. A good time was had by all, and everyone learned something.

Amphibians observed

Ambystoma mabeei  Mabee’s Salamander (2 larvae)

Ambystoma t. tigrinum  Eastern Tiger Salamander (1 dead, partially eaten larva)

Notophthalmus viridescens dorsalis  Broken-striped Newt (2 adults)

Pseudotriton m. montanus  Eastern Mud Salamander (1 adult)

Bufo [Anaxyrus] terrestris  Southern Toad (at least 1 calling; eggs; 1 dead, partially eaten adult)

Acris gryllus  Southern Cricket Frog (many seen and calling)

Pseudacris crucifer  Spring Peeper (at least 3 seen; several calling)

Pseudacris nigrita  Southern Chorus Frog (several seen and calling)

Rana [Lithobates] capito  Carolina Gopher Frog (1 large tadpole)

Rana [Lithobates] clamitans  Green Frog (a few tadpoles)

Rana sphenocephala [Lithobates sphenocephalus]  Southern Leopard Frog (tadpoles; eggs; a few calling)

Reptiles observed

Anolis carolinensis  Green Anole (at least 1 or 2)

Sceloporus undulatus  Fence Lizard (1 adult male)

Eumeces [Plestiodon] inexpectatus  Southeastern Five-lined Skink (1 adult)

Scincella lateralis  Ground Skink (at least 8)

The group at “Antioch Bay,” a clay-based Carolina bay owned by The Nature Conservancy. Clay-based bays are rich in rare plant and animal species. Photo by Jeff Beane.

A quick side stop to visit the World Champion Turkey Oak (Quercus laevis) along NC 211 in Moore County.

A quick side stop to visit the World Champion Turkey Oak (Quercus laevis) along NC 211 in Moore County. Photo by Jeff Beane.

“Seventeen Frog Pond” on Sandhills Game Lands is one of the highest-quality ephemeral wetlands remaining in the Sandhills region, and a stronghold for several rare and declining species. Photo by Jeff Beane.

“Seventeen Frog Pond” on Sandhills Game Lands is one of the highest-quality ephemeral wetlands remaining in the Sandhills region, and a stronghold for several rare and declining species. Photo by Jeff Beane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once abundant in southeastern NC, the Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita) has declined in the past few decades. This species depends on ephemeral wetlands for breeding. Photo by Jeff Beane.

Once abundant in southeastern NC, the Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita) has declined in the past few decades. This species depends on ephemeral wetlands for breeding. Photo by Jeff Beane.

More often seen than heard, the Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) is common throughout North Carolina. Although it can breed in some permanent waters, it prefers ephemeral wetlands. Photo by Jeff Beane.

More often seen than heard, the Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) is common throughout North Carolina. Although it can breed in some permanent waters, it prefers ephemeral wetlands.
Photo by Jeff Beane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus), was the one amphibian species we encountered that does not use ephemeral ponds. It breeds in small streams and mucky seeps, and we found it in a pitcher plant seep. Photo by Jeff Beane.

This Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus), was the one amphibian species we encountered that does not use ephemeral ponds. It breeds in small streams and mucky seeps, and we found it in a pitcher plant seep. Photo by Jeff Beane.

Any Wake Audubon trip is going to turn up birds. This Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) was already busy feeding nestlings. Photo by Jeff Beane

Any Wake Audubon trip is going to turn up birds. This Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) was already busy feeding nestlings. Photo by Jeff Beane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dwarf Iris (Iris verna), Large Floating Bladderwort (Utricularia inflata), and Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) were just a few of the wildflowers blooming in the Sandhills.Photo by Jeff Beane

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