Middleton Stream Team’s Vernal Pool Hike was recently held on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. (scroll down for slide show)The group of almost sixty was excited and laden down with nets. In age, the attendees ranged from toddlers in carriers to octogenarians. We hiked in from Old Hundred Lane, soon venturing off the trail to a large vernal pool, previously scouted by stream team members. Because physical factors such as sunlight, water temperature, acidity, and the duration of the flooding all affect vernal pool life, it is never truly guaranteed that we will find what we had found the week before. However, on this day, groups of children and adults enthusiastically netted, scooped, observed, and eventually found out they had fairy shrimp, predaceous diving beetles, and a variety of beetle larvae. The Stream Team naturalists were concerned about not finding any frog or salamander eggs, worried that the winter thaw could have affected their survival. We will be following up on this to find some answers. A favored critter was the garter snake that Briana Grieco caught and showed all the hikers.
Vernal pools are critical habitats for many species. Through outdoor exploration of these pools, this large group of people learned that much life depends on protecting these ephemeral wetlands. We all had a beautiful day in the outdoors with great exercise and much learning. A “wonder” of a day!