Still damp as hell

Since the deck needs to be restained, we pressure-washed it the other day. Surprising absolutely no one, we have not gone 24 hours without rain since then, and in fact the task was completed in a narrow window of sunlight during a very wet early summer – normally we start our summer drought about this time. The frogs have been quite happy with the meteorological manifestation, and so I made another foray out to see what I could find.

There were two things of note, relating directly back to the most recent podcast. The first is, I managed to track in close to that whimpering call that I was hearing before, and confirmed that it is a variant call of the Copes grey treefrogs; even watched one issuing it, little throat pouch pulsing in time and everything. So, unless there is such a thing as amphibian ventriloquists, I’m considering this mystery closed.

Second, under cover of darkness I managed to get right up close to the eastern narrowmouth toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) when calling, the one that sounds like a goat. And when I say close, I mean holding the recorder within 15 centimeters. During the third call, you will hear a faint click that seems to cut the call off abruptly; that’s me switching on my headlamp to see if the toad’s throat swelled as much as the grey treefrogs’ (the answer: not quite, but almost.)

Narrowmouth toad call

I won’t say that this is a perfectly accurate rendition of what you’d hear in person, because the recorder’s dynamic range is probably much smaller than the actual sound being emitted by the toad. But it’s significantly closer than the irritated chittering of a brown bat that the cats had found in the house many years ago, one that gave such a vocal display that I fetched the cassette recorder. That recording was way the hell off; it seems the primary squeaking that we hear falls well outside of the range that the microphone or magnetic tape, or both, could handle, and all I actually produced was a dismal scratching sound. Very odd.

While doing the toad calls, though, I spotted a tiny little frog or toad, and went back to grab a film can to capture one for closeups, ending up with two. So I did a quick modeling session before returning them to their original location.

unidentified tiny frogs or toads
I can’t offer what species these might be, just that I suspect they’re one of the chorus frog species in the area; I’ve seen very young Copes greys and they have different markings, though I’ve never seen them quite this young, so maybe I’m wrong.

unidentified newly-emerged amphibian with scale
Curiously, in this light they appear quite light-colored, while on location they look a lot darker. The nub of the tail is still present on this one, indicating a pretty recent transition from tadpole stage. For those of you who aren’t adapting to metric, 25mm is an inch.

unidentified amphibian from dead ahead
One was slightly more cooperative than the other, but neither was all that difficult to work with. They were in a shallow pan with some leaves and a hint of water, and while they were inclined to make their way out, it was with the typical froggy movement of sitting still for several seconds before abruptly advancing a body length or three. I just narrowly kept this one from jumping onto the lens. Those toes give a good indication that this is a treefrog species of some sort, at least.

unidentified amphibian in extreme closeup
Naturally, I had to go in for the super closeup, because I could. The pupil of the eye measures about a millimeter across, if that helps at all.

This is with the help of yet another softbox flash rig, and it’s been working well so far – I intend to be back a little later on with some more details about it, including another shot of one of my models here that effectively illustrates when studio macro goes wrong. Don’t touch that dial – uhhhh, mouse? Screen? Whatevs.