In the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire, while we may be delighted at the arrival of the spring equinox, winter lingers. The real first day of spring is the day of the spring peepers – tax day. On this day millions of male spring peepers simultaneously recover from their frozen winter sleep and in a sudden frantic effort to find a lover, engage is an rollicking concerto of peeps. Their consistent choice of April 15 as the moment to express their lust strikes me as uncanny. No doubt it is related to the melting of ice on ponds and vernal pools, but in Northern New England that moment may vary from year to year and from pond to pond by up to a week, yet peepers are as reliable as the stars in establishing what is realistically the first day of spring in this part of the world.
It is hopeless to try to find a single peeper by following its song, as there are thousands singing unanimously and identically. As you get closer the sound has an increasingly ambiguous location. Since they are little more than an inch in length, weigh less that a 5th of an ounce, hide under grass and leaves, and usually sing in darkness, they present a challenge to anyone looking to create a photographic portrait of a this horny frog.
It has, however, been done. Below is a rare photo of an actual spring peeper. The second is a portrait of a cousin of his (horny to the touch if not in state of mind) — a more willing photographic subject.
Yours from the field,
You can learn more about spring peepers and other wonders of the natural world through our soon-to-be-released apps: the Fieldstone Guides to Nature. Add your name to our mailing list and we will be sure to let you know when they're peeping on an app store near you.