Starflower has now moved on to the center stage of the natural world. You see it here with its star shaped blooms, leaves and later, seed head. What a beauty, one of my favorites. Ironically, as I bent down to admire this plant, I noticed movement and lo and behold, a small frog jumped into view! I was on the trail leading north from Totman Cove along North Creek. Earlier, I had dipped my net into the fresh water pond, but all I got were tadpoles and snails. Here was a frog quite a distance from water (actually closer to the salt water than to fresh water!). It was my first close look at an adult frog this spring which I believe to be a gray Tree Frog. There are similarities to the small Peeper, but the color and markings looked different. I don't often find these amphibians, but here it is. Peepers and Gray Tree Frogs are both climbers, equipped with sticky pads to enable climbing.

I'm also watching some jellied masses of eggs that I think will develop into salamanders of the spotted variety. I found these in the wetlands behind the local school where kids and I have been exploring. These masses were caught and held by some debris on the edge of a slow moving stream. Spotted Salamanders usually pick vernal pools to lay their eggs, but these fairly quiet waters may serve the purpose of amphibian metamorphosis. Salamander tadpoles are unique, and I hope to show you one later.

Let's see......a hiking colleague found a snake new to me. Its Red Belly is distinctive and gives it its name. In reading about this snake, I learned that if you are going to handle a snake, this is the one to find. It is a gentle creature, and even when first held does not bite. Compared to a Garter Snake and most others, this is placid behavior. Their food preference is slugs, and I regret not having brought it home to my garden.

Here in Phippsburg, we are celebrating the holiday with unbelievably hot weather. I actually jumped into the ocean which was in the mid fifty degree temperature range. Over at Seawall, I swam in the river which was 72 degrees! The Apple Trees are in full bloom; and when the wind blows, their petals spin down like large snow flakes. In the woods, the Pink Ladyslippers are beginning to show their unusual floral forms. Likewise, the Fringed Polygala have brightened the forest scene as the Trout Lilies sport seed pods and fading foliage.

Imagine my jumping into these gentle waves.......where is everyone? Probably at home cooking on the grill or gearing up for the 500 mile races. Of course you should recognize this beach as one of the world's finest - Seawall.

5/28/07 Oceanic Ronnie.