The Mast-Head: Early Sign of Spring

   The spring peepers had started their annual chorus by the time the family got home from a vacation on March 13. We had been away for the preceding week, so if the frogs had started singing before that, I was not around to hear it. This bothered me a bit, since I have been recording the date on which I first hear them every year since 1998. As it is, however, March 13 ties for the earliest I have heard the peepers since I started taking note.
    Such a short sample is scientifically meaningless, I know, and cannot be taken as an indication of a trend. In fact, though my other March 13 notation was in 2008, in most years the date jumps around during the last two weeks of the month.
    More notable news about possible warming of the winter atmosphere comes from Richard J. Hendrickson of Bridgehampton, who has been observing the weather, carefully and officially, since 1930. Mr. Hendrickson submits a monthly report to the local newspapers, and in the latest one, he wrote that February, 2012, was the mildest he has recorded. He is cautious, of course, saying, “Is this just one freak year? Or, are we in the trend of 20 or more years in this warming pattern?”
    The way I see it, my peeper observations may be of some value at some future time, when, if the predictions are right, New York’s climate will be like that of present-day South Carolina.
    In other frog news, researchers announced recently that they had identified a new species of leopard frog, living on Staten Island and in New Jersey. And it was the frogs’ love calls, a single croak instead of the more common southern leopard frog’s repeated cackle, that first drew attention. Samples of the frog’s DNA appeared to confirm the suspicion that a previously undocumented species was living in the metropolitan area.
    Spring peepers have yet to really begin their evening music, so there is still plenty of time to hear them. A slow drive down Cranberry Hole Road in Amagansett at dusk with the windows down is an easy way to enjoy the concert. And what a concert it is. Try not to miss it.