We’ve got pollywogs in our new stream restoration at Linnean Avenue and Broad Branch Road, an important sign of the “colonization” changes that will make the area green and lovely in a year or so.
These pollywogs (or tadpoles, if you prefer) are hiding under leaves and debris in a small pool just west of Linnean Avenue, near its intersection with Broad Branch Road.
They’re tree frogs, a tiny species that is only one inch long and lives in trees all summer. When calling for mates, the males use a shrill “peep, peep, peep,” and they are known as spring peepers. They laid eggs several weeks ago.
The restored stream likely also has pollywogs of the American toad, a species that needs water to lay eggs, but whose adults spend their time out of water. I find them in my garden occasionally in a damp corner, a brown lump about two inches in size.(See and hear the American toad)
Where do they come from? Maybe from the small brook that runs down Linnean from Politics and Prose, next to the alley. Frogs are very adventurous. They seem to smell water when looking for a place to deposit their eggs.
We can expect other frog species to “colonize” in a year or so. Right now, wood frogs (whose calls are like the quack of a duck) and green frogs (with a call like a banjo) are living and mating in pools near the community garden on Oregon Avenue, north of Military Road. They would have to cross Military Road to get to our area, and this may take some time.
Colonization is beginning
It’s been two years since a contractor hired by the District Department of Energy and the Environment dug up the old storm sewer to let the water surface and become a little creek. The restoration area is beginning to fill in but there are still bare patches.
Now we have to see what plants, animals and birds are blown in by the wind or arrive unexpectedly. This colonization is a gradual process.
The rate of colonization varies all over the globe, according to rainfall and temperature. You may have read of the scientists monitoring the slopes of Mount St. Helens after the volcano’s 1980 eruption.
In Forest Hills we can expect many new plants, seeds blown by wind or carried on your dog’s paws. Some of them will be “weeds.” These will be lovely native plants like goldenrod, and seeds from our gardens, and who knows what else?
Animal life – bathing, drinking, feeding
We can expect new insects like the dragonflies that came last summer, but can’t predict mosquitoes since the larva die in running water.
The stream and its pools give birds and animals a new place to bathe, drink and feed. Squirrels, chipmunks, maybe foxes, will find a secluded place to drink. We will surely see cardinals, catbirds, goldfinches and other residents of our yards using the stream as a birdbath.
Mallards began feeding and ducklings were born in our new stream even before the reconstruction was completed. Wood ducks browse in the little ponds in the wooded area near Broad Branch Road. If we put up nest boxes, they might nest in our Broad Branch stream as it comes back to life.
A new kind of park
Our stream restoration is going to make a lovely new wet park for our area. It will be fun, and a scientific project to watch as it develops.