I know the photos are broken. I'm working on it.
Conditions in the Champlain Valley have been ripe for a migration for some time but we simply haven't had the rain. Tonight we were supposed to get a foot of snow but at the last minute the storm pushed east and it spattered slush all day with no accumulation. It started to snow for real as soon as it got dark but the roads were wet so I decided to go out. The site I went to is notorious for having extremely large numbers of Ambystoma laterale. The best night was on March 28, 2005. That night we found 1,467 Blue-spotted Salamanders crossing about 200 yards of road over the course of several hours. Tonight the temperature was 1C, the hillside was 50% covered in snow that had not melted from the winter, and a dusting of new snow was beginning to accumulate so my expectations were extremely low. Along with Jim Andrews, I was pleasantly surprised though to find around a hundred laterale marching across the road as well as a wood frog and a spotted salamander.
This was the first salamander of the night and I assumed it would be one of only a handful
The next one was found walking across the margin of the road where snow was beginning to accumulate
It's amazing to me that these salamanders can function at such low temperatures. Their only requirements are that they remain moist and that they not be frozen.
Most of the salamanders at this site appear to be hybrids trending toward laterale. I think most of them are probably LLLJ or LLJ karyotypes.
Four posing for a photo
Some more snow walkers
The lone maculatum of the night
It had sort of a double tail. This usually happens in response to a partial break in the tail; a second tail or nub grows out of the wound instead of healing normally on occasion.
A hybrid jefferson/blue-spotted female (large and pale) next to a smaller pure-looking male. Almost all males are a pure species and while hybrid males do pop up on rare occasions, none have been confirmed in Vermont
This girl had just made it across the road and was on her way to the swamp
This one had just made it up the snow bank on the downhill side of the road and was peering off, as if deciding whether or not to jump
And lastly, a juvenile. Juveniles are not migrating to breed but in cases where foraging and overwintering needs cannot be met at the same place you can often find all age classes migrating at the very start of spring.
It looks like conditions may be better some time next week. With any luck we'll have another 1000+ night though that has only ever happened twice.