Each year for the past several i have spent more and more time observing tadpoles in the North Burial Ground in Providence RI. This year I jumped in with both feet when Friends of the Moshassuck received a small grant from the RI Rivers Council to make the tadpole video I have been pondering for the last few years. All of the videos that have been taken and processed are available at http://www.youtube.com/user/Moshassuckcritters?view_as=public and more raw footage and processed footage will be added as it accumulates.
In past years I visited frequently but this year I am a bit more diligent during the day about getting over there so I can film for a few minutes. What has also happened is that I have made a more concerted effort to be out later so that the pond can be observed when it gets dark, the time that frogs mate.
There are two kinds of tadpoles in the Burial Ground, or maybe more properly there are two kinds of frogs in the Burial Ground, Bullfrogs and Gray Tree frogs. There may be others but we have no hard evidence of that.
The Bullfrogs reside in the larger pond below the esker. I can not begin to describe how lively a place that pond is. Several kinds of fish, bullfrogs, at least two kinds of turtles, muskrat, an assortment of large predatory water birds, ducks, geese, and an occasional otter.
At the large pond I have started recording birds, muskrat, Bullfrogs and turtles and posting some of it. I hope this winter to create a video collage of the wildlife at the pond.
The small pond in the burial ground is a drainage swale near the maintenance building that fills up in the rain and then slowly dries out. It often has water for months at a time, but goes dry after several weeks of no rain. Last year it was dry in the late winter, and filled up beginning with rains on April 25. This year it went dry on April 25, filled temporarily with some rains about May 10, went dry again May 20, and then filled back up on May 25. The rains of early June have it way over its banks. The Moshassuck runs right near the little pond, but it runs under I-95 and is underground for about 1/4 mile so it is hard to tell how much above river level the pond is, but the rise and fall of the pond is strictly based on the runoff it gets and how fast it evaporates.
Last year (2012) the first tadpoles were visible on May 12, which mating had to precede it by at least a few days. This year we spent time observing mating on May 10 and 11th, but the the pond went dry for several days so that mating may not have been fruitful. We observed mating on several evenings and have some great audio beginning may 25 when the pond filled up again, and the4 first tadpoles of the season were observed and filmed on May 31.
Having focused on the tadpoles the last few years, I get a renewed sense of wonder watching them each spring as they populate the shorelines by the thousands. What I was totally unprepared for, having not really been out at night the last few years, was the mating rituals at the pond. Here is a small snippet recorded on June 8, 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIzDAbIsjF8 The recording can not do it justice. When 20 or 30 frogs are calling, from the ponds, from the trees all around the pond, it is not only a sonic experience, it is a visceral one. It may be the most addicting thing I know. i get out there and just want to record and listen all evening. And vibrate. And each time I go back and find them still there I am even more amazed. I have a little bit of video on moshassuckcritters that in the fading light has some pictures of tadpoles while the soundtrack is the calling of the adults preparing for that night’s mating. Here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4OEmfwqjXM