Fill frogs

Copes grey treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis sitting on fenceI have been trying to get to a couple of posts, including possibly a podcast, for quite a while now, and just haven’t been able to get my shit together. So for now, because I feel guilty and inadequate, I’m going to do a quickie to feature a few of the amphibians I’ve found in the past few weeks.

This particular image goes back to the beginning of May, before the beach trip, and wont even be the oldest one. A Copes grey treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) was found one evening perched atop a fence post, and even though I have a lot of such photos in my stock already, I went slightly fartsy to use the line of posts in the composition. Such efforts, I know. I could only easily get to this side of the fence, the other being a bit overgrown, and initially the frog was facing the other way and thus continuing the emphasis of the fence posts to the right, but it turned around as I was locking focus, because of course it had to.

On a brief visit to the NC Botanical Garden in late April, just about everything that I saw (that wasn’t vegetation) was frogs, toads, or lizards. In a small pond liner, a pair of American toads (Anaxyrus americanus) were busy producing the 2018 models.

American toads Anaxyrus americanus producing egg strands in pond
I can’t believe I was unaware of this until recently, but frogs and toads do not reproduce through penetration, since the males have no penises; instead, they mate much like fish do, with the female throwing down a few dozen/hundred eggs and the males basting said eggs with sperm – yeah, right in the same waters I tend to wade in (rumor has it they poop there too, but this could simply be a filthy lie.) There really isn’t a reason for the male to latch on like this, but I suppose the proximity greatly increases the chance that his own sperm will be the ones to fertilize the eggs, though I’ve seen stacked males more than a few times in the past, so if you’re a tadpole it’s probably best not to ask who your father was.

Which leads to a more recent shot, taken back on the 16th during heavy rains, of which we’ve had out fair share and then some. Hearing the grey treefrogs once again calling in the backyard, I ventured out and found not just a lone specimen on the fence posts like above (though probably not the same individual,) but also this pair, with the male at the ready to do his duty once the female actually decided on a place to deposit her brood.

coupled Copes grey treefrogs Hyla chrysoscelis perched on fencepost before reproduction
Given their proximity to our own backyard pond liner, it’s likely the female was considering this as a place to deposit her eggs, but near as I can tell she didn’t decide favorably, because I have seen no evidence of such within.

There has, however, been evidence that other species have been doing the nasty there, since we had several sizable tadpoles hanging out. They would dive for the bottom and out of sight whenever I came into view, so I would get only a brief glimpse at most, but I was fairly certain that at least one was sporting the full complement of legs. Eventually, I captured one that showed this transitional stage, and did some portraits at the same time that I was getting confused by the water beetle eyes.

green frog tadpole Lithobates clamitans with four legs
This one, a green frog tadpole (Lithobates clamitans) was still largely convinced to remain aquatic, but from time to time during the session it seemed to recognize that maybe, just maybe, it didn’t have to stay in the water. It was active enough that getting the quality shot was a bit challenging, and even interfered with the beetle images that I was attempting by blundering through the frame once I finally got the beetle to hold still near the glass, so there’s a little tip for you when using a macro tank: one specimen at a time, especially if they’re active.

green frog tadpole Lithobates clamitans porudly showing off its new limbsNaturally, after I finally got these shots, then one of the quadrupoles decided it would bask at the pond’s edge in bright sunlight and completely ignore my presence. I like this because it shows the full-length tail, something that would soon begin to shorten before vanishing entirely.

Not very long after getting these shots, we had torrents of rain over a period of several days, and the tadpoles seem to have all vacated the pond now. There are some curious detail shots that I got before this occurred, again taken with the macro tank, that may show up here sooner or later.

Just yesterday, as I was catching up on some garden work, I found this tiny toad in the yard and brought it up to the porch for a quick couple of pics. It was determined to face away from me and head towards the edge of the shallow pan that I used as housing, so I had to almost-continually keep spinning the pan to try for the head shot, and I couldn’t tell you which of us was getting more frustrated, but it worked eventually.

unidentified tiny frog or toad
Now, I say toad, but I’m not absolutely sure about that – it remains unidentified, and I’m judging only from the texture of the skin and lack of other identifying characteristics, but it was also quite small, a modest percentage of the size of an adult American toad, so might have been one of the chorus frogs or ‘peepers’ that inhabit the area. I was smart enough to introduce the millimeter scale for some of the shots.

unidentified frog or toad with millimeter scale
So, about 12mm in overall body length, which as The Girlfriend pointed out, is literally thumbnail size – she’s always delighted to see the tiny cute ones.

She was also delighted to see the next, which I forwarded to her while she was at work, and she promptly made it her computer background image – I think it closes the post quite well. For a few days, a green treefrog (Hyla cinerea) chose to perch on the pokeweed plants in the backyard, finding a plant with a sturdy stem and the closest hue to its own natural coloration. Despite the macro flash effect, which always makes the backgrounds dark, the clues that this was taken during the daytime are the small pupils and the generally sleepy appearance of the frog, which are of course nocturnal.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea dozing on pokeweed plant Phytolacca americana
By the way, I have to point out that I’m pleased with the simplicity of lines in this image. While I was concentrating on the portrait angle like usual, the stems worked very well in the composition, helping to focus attention. Not like you’d miss the frog anyway, but it still works, in my opinion. We all know what that’s worth, so let’s not go there…

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