2019 Amphibian and Egg Mass Identification Trainings Scheduled

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Pacific Coastal Salamander larvae, photo V. Jackson

The Whatcom County Amphibian Monitoring Program is happy to announce that we have scheduled our 2019 Amphibian Identification Trainings. This is our sixth year of working with the community to build a strong database on the Amphibians of Whatcom County. Our goal is to develop a database that helps to understand where the different species of amphibians live in Whatcom County and where are the important habitats that are vital to their survival (e.g. breeding sites). Our spring Egg Mass Surveys are important in helping us understand were pond breeding (lentic) amphibians are breeding and to monitor populations trends. This kind of work takes a lot of eyes on the ground and YOU are the Key! We can teach you how to identify the different species and their egg masses! Hard?, no! Come learn and help us out.

The amphibian and egg mass identification trainings are free, all we ask is you provide a minimum of 12 hours of assistance in surveying for amphibians during the spring breeding season (March -May). Space is limited to 20 people in each class, so sign up quickly as space typically runs out. The classes are open to anyone 16 years or older (Sorry our insurance does not allow anyone younger). We have two different options with slightly different goals to choose from this season:

Option 1: March 3rd 9:30 am till around 3pm ish. This class and field adventure will be co-taught and lead by Monique Brewer, WCAMP Foray Coordinator and Lyn Jackson, WCAMP volunteer. The morning class will be held at Whatcom Land Trust offices in Bellingham (412 N. Commercial St.) and we will carpool to the afternoon training site that is on the southside of Bellingham.

In this class you will about the different amphibian species in our area and how to identify the adults and their eggs and how to survey for them! Yes, we count eggs to survey for these species because the eggs are easier to detect than the actual animals. Think of it as the wettest Easter egg hunt you have ever been on. We provide you with free amphibian identification guides and tons of cool information. The second half of the day is spent in the field trying out what you learned in class. We ask that in return for this free class that you agree to spend a minimum of 12 hours surveying for amphibian egg masses. . You can do this on a group foray or two (we will have two this season) or you can go out on your own and find places to count. Its tons of fun! The goal of this class is to train volunteers to assist with our County wide program of monitoring amphibian egg masses

Snacks and coffee will be available in the morning, but bring a lunch so you will be fueled to play outside after the indoor portion of the class. Be prepared for the weather as we will be outside surveying rain or shine. The field portion of the training will be off-trail and on uneven wet ground. We have waders to loan out, but if you have some bring them or knee boots. Be prepared for uneven, brushy, wet conditions. If you have difficultly on even ground or mud you may want to contact us and ask about what will be involved prior to signing up.

Option 2: March 16 and 17th, 9:30 am till 4 pm Saturday and Sunday. Birchbay State Park at the Heron House and on BP Lands. The class and field forays will be lead by Vikki Jackson, WCAMP program director. This option will be two power packed days where you will start off with an indoor class that will teach you how to identify amphibians and their eggs and how to survey for them.  After a free lunch you get to practice what you learn by heading out in the field and conducting a survey Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. This survey will focus on surveying wetlands on BP lands. The goal is to train volunteers to identify amphibian species and egg masses to assist with assessing the success of amphibian populations in created and enhanced wetland systems. If you are interested in learning how wetland creation and enhancement works this is a great hands on way to learn. The training includes a morning classroom training on how to identify amphibian species and their eggs and then after a lunch (provided by BP) we will head out in the field and start counting. Sunday will be a full day of survey work having fun learning about wetlands and counting egg masses. Again a free lunch is provided for volunteers. This power packed fun filled weekend does require that you commit to both days.

There will be snacks and coffee in the morning to warm you up and then a free box lunch will be provided on both days. You will want to be prepared for the weather, as will be playing outside rain or shine. The field portion of the training will be off-trail and on uneven wet ground. We have waders to loan out, but if you have some bring them or knee boots. Be prepared for uneven, brushy, wet conditions. If you have difficultly on even ground or mud you may want to contact us and ask about what will be involved prior to signing up.

To sign up click (Sign Up Here) to get you to link to sign up. If you have questions or trouble registering please contact Vikki Jackson at vikki@whatfrogs.org or 360.319-6988.

Keep checking back, we have lots of fun things to get involved in this year!

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New Volunteer Opportunity

Oregon Spotted Frog Survey Training Sign-Up: The countdown to the start of our Oregon Spotted Frog season is underway! Please join us in supporting this threatened species by helping us collect vital data from local populations, including conducting egg mass surveys with us.  We ask that you have some previous experience with amphibians, such as past participation in WCAMP’s citizen science program. If you are interested in signing up for our training or have questions, please contact Stephen Nyman at stephen@whatfrogs.org

Our surveys are performed under authorization by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and in partnership with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Whatcom Land Trust.

WCAMP’s annual Oregon Spotted Frog egg mass survey training will be held on Saturday March 16, beginning at 9:00 at the Whatcom Land Trust office (412 North Commercial Street, Bellingham). The training will cover everything you will need to familiarize yourself with our favorite frog (or enjoy a refresher course) and its habitat, as well as the other species we may encounter, survey protocols, field safety, and other important information. If weather conditions are favorable to see frogs, we will then car-pool to an Oregon Spotted Frog site. We will plan to conclude the field day by 2:00 or 2:30. We hope that everyone will commit to doing one or more formal surveys with us in the weeks after the training. Survey participants are required to do the training or have demonstrated previous experience.

We will have coffee and some snacks for the morning, but please bring whatever other sustenance you will need to stay comfortable in the field.Dress warmly and to stay dry all day, regardless of the weather. We will not be able to provide waders or hip-boots for use on March 16 (at minimum you should have calf- or knee-high boots), but we should be able to do so for subsequent surveys. More information will be provided prior to the training.

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Why Chase Frogs

Worldwide, many amphibian species are experiencing dramatic declines in population abundance and density due in part to habitat alteration, emerging diseases and climate change. In addition, many amphibian species that inhabit urban and suburban areas are threatened with habitat loss and degradation caused by increasing urbanization and resulting in declines in amphibian distribution, abundance, and diversity in urban areas. Understanding the effects development has on amphibian populations is becoming increasingly important so that we may better manage our urban populations and prevent extirpations of species from their natural ranges. Whatcom County has experience significant growth over recent years along with severe range contractions of species such as the Western toads (Bufo boreas).
Within Whatcom County we know very little about the amphibian species present and population trends.  This project is intended to provide this missing baseline information.
To meet this goal the project is a “Citizen Science” approach using a network of citizen volunteers to collect scientific field data. This not only allows the collection of large quantities of data, but also promotes public engagement and increased stewardship and protection of this organisms.
Our program focuses on training volunteers through class and field experience to independently identify amphibian species and collect habitat and population data that is directed back to this project for public use.

 

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