By Nancy Leonard
On this calm and not-too-cool Friday evening, 18 people (including two children) gathered at the trailhead of Redwyn’s Dunes in the Keweenaw for a walk led by Dr. Amy Schrank, an aquatic ecologist from nearby Michigan Technological University. During the first part of the outing, the group did an introductory hike on the trail that leads up over the wooded dunes and past three ponds. Blooming Pink Lady’s Slipper were admired along the way and Eastern Grey Tree Frogs were heard singing loudly.
The group then strolled along the sand and cobble beach collecting expired butterflies and trying to identify species. We settled into a sun-warmed beach stone ridge as Amy talked about the ecology and biology of amphibians and answered the many questions that were asked.
A spectacular sunset over Lake Superior was admired as we returned to the trail. The enthusiastic group walked the entire trail again, hearing tree frogs and Spring Peepers at the first two ponds. The trail runs close to the third, and much smaller, vernal pond where we could approach the water’s edge. An almost full moon hung in the hazy sky to light our way. We were soon rewarded with peeper and tree frog songs and finally, an American Toad sang for us. Participants enthusiastically, but with great care, managed to catch and examine an American Toad, a Wood Frog, several Spring Peepers, and a Green Frog.
On the return to the trailhead in the dark, quiet conversations reviewed what had been seen and learned as the frog chorus faded in the distance.