Cornelius' Corner:

"Build It and They Will Come!"
01
May

Cornelius’ Corner: “Build It and They Will Come!”

Bald Cypress planting – unhatched wood frog eggs are in the buckets.

Greetings friends!

I want to share some exciting updates about the new wetland by the Frog Pond outdoor classroom! Earlier in March, we were excited to document the first frog eggs ever laid in the new wetland. Wood frogs laid approximately eight egg masses in one of the channels near the wetland’s memorial island. They were attached to a stick submerged in the water, and each mass contained roughly 500 to 2000 eggs! My coworkers kept a close eye on them, and were ready to move the egg masses when it looked like they might possibly be in harm’s way during tree planting. Luckily the eggs hatched that very morning, and the tadpoles got to spend their first day observing staff and volunteers as they installed a sixteen-foot-tall bald cypress tree!

Toad singing in the wetland.

Lots of other wildlife have been spotted using the new wetland as spring temperatures have warmed up and more species have emerged from hibernation! Earlier in April, my coworker Jessica counted over fifteen toads at the wetland in one night during spring amphibian surveys.  Those toads filled the wetland with their trilling songs and laid a lot of eggs that should be emerging as toadlets in six to eight weeks. Families and other visitors exploring along the boardwalks in the wetland have also spotted bull frogs, green frogs, Northern water snakes, and at least two different snapping turtles swimming in the wetland’s pools or sitting on the banks.

Wood frog tadpoles in the wetland.

Those frogs, turtles, and snakes were just in time to supervise volunteers on Saturday, April 13th, as they planted eighteen trees and shrubs, including button bush, sweetbay magnolia, and several different viburnum species. Each of those plants will provide good singing perches for frogs in the spring, as well as seeds and berries for birds. Volunteers also planted over 600 wildflowers and emergent plants in the wetland! Species like blue flag iris, pickerel weed, and duck potato grow directly out of the deeper water and will provide good shelter for frogs and toads, in addition to stems for attaching egg masses to. White turtlehead, cardinal flower, swamp milkweed, and New England aster were chosen for areas with saturated-to-moist soils as well.

Master Watershed Stewards planting duck potato.

The frogs are really looking forward to those wildflower blooms because they will attract lots of yummy bugs to eat! Personally, I’m excited to see the marsh rattlesnake master in bloom, also known as snakeroot. Besides the obvious snake connection, this plant has really cool spiky, blue-green foliage (because it’s in the same family as the desert yucca plant). When it blooms in mid-summer, it will have spiky flower heads on stalks as tall as three to five feet! Hopefully my coworkers will take me down to the wetland so I can have a good climb!

Wetland planting volunteers.

Thank you to the volunteers from Agilent Technologies, Concordville Wegmans, Temple University’s College of Engineering, Penn State Extension’s Master Watershed Stewards program, and Girl Scout Troop #5952 for being willing to get muddy and help make the wetland even better for wildlife. Everybody was impressed with their enthusiasm and how quickly they got so many plants in the ground!

Be sure to explore the wetland on your next visit to the Park, then stop by the Visitor Center to let me know what species you’ve spotted (especially if they are reptiles)!

Your friendly neighborhood corn snake,

– Cornelius

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