They are if I say so

I have a tendency to lump reptiles and amphibians into the same general classification, including within my stock categories, even though either is just as close to, say, badgers – the phylum Chordata is the last common point for all of them. But fine – you want me to make a separate post to break them all out? Is that what you want? Because I’ll do it if you want.

On a trip to the NC Botanical Garden about a month ago I was, of course, on the lookout for the green anoles. It turns out that I didn’t see one, even when I thought I did. And in fact, the opportunity to see them has now entirely passed. No, they didn’t go extinct, but the name did – they are now, apparently, Carolina anoles (yet still Anolis carolinensis) – another reason to check up on species even when I know what the hell they are. But of those, I saw a couple.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis deep in shadow among leaves
This one, a juvenile about half adult size (or maybe simply a half-adult – I can never keep those two apart,) was being more shy than usual and scampered for cover almost as soon as I saw it, going deep into the leaves. Since the day was overcast with the occasional raindrop, this was pushing the limits for useful results while handholding. The photo still makes the lizard obvious, but anyone there in person would have had to have been quite sharp-eyed to see this one in its hiding place.

Another had initially been overlooked by me as I perused the foliage, and might have escaped attention entirely had it not moved its head suddenly when it could register on my peripheral vision.

Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis posed against mixed foliage
This one was a bit large even for an adult, and out in plain sight, so how I missed it on my initial pass I can’t say – since I was looking for just this species (okay, kinda,) I can’t figure how I overlooked it. But I probably would have seen it on second glance, so it jumped the gun by drawing attention to itself, like a little kid playing hide-and-seek. Good thing they don’t have the ability to giggle.

One more, because.

Carolina anole Anolisis carolinensis in even deeper shadow under flower
This is likely the same anole as the first pic up there, but I saw it on my second pass through the area. It was out on the upper surfaces of the leaves right near those flowers and I wanted to coax it towards the blossoms for a more fartistic composition, but it was having none of that. Still, after it dove for cover I still managed to put the frame together in a way that worked.

It does – stop backtalking.

green frog Lithobates clamitans lurking among lilies in pond
In a nearby pond planter, a green frog (Lithobates clamitans) or maybe it’s a Carolina frog, was hanging out in reasonably good cover among the lily pads, and stayed put as I maneuvered around for a portrait shot. I’m fairly certain that giant ear drum means it’s a male, and I’ll let you make all the comments that you want. Certainly nothing of the sort occurred to me.

This other one is a little freaky – I didn’t notice the crucial details until I got back and was unloading the card.

tadpoles feeding off skin of dismembered frog
Now, the state of the frog hadn’t escaped my attention; I do shots of this nature just for illustrative and ‘authentic’ purposes, because nature isn’t always pretty (or ever, if your only exposure is my stuff.) What I’d missed are the tadpoles clearly feeding from the skin of the dismembered frog. I mean, what the hell, guys? I thought you were vegetarians at this stage?

(They likely are, but the decaying frog is playing host to any number of pond growths, and that’s what they’re eating.)

We’ll head back home for some more savory images. I mentioned before that I was hoping to establish some green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) in the area, and it appears I have been successful. Even as the heat of summer caused most of the frogs to seem scarce and the common Copes grey treefrogs hadn’t been visible for a while, one night I suddenly found two of the green treefrogs, hanging out on the pokeweed plant in the backyard.

Green treefrog Hyla cinerea perched on pokeweed Phytolacca americana
The frogs seem to know what they blend into the best, and the pokeweed is the closest thing we have in the yard to their coloration, but it also attracts countless other species like varieties of marauding caterpillars, so they’re getting food there too. Every once in a while, I find their daytime hiding place somewhere near the back porch, often enough under the grill cover – I have to check the grill over carefully before I fire it up.

Not too far away, closer to the backyard pond, sits one of our rainbarrels, and for a couple of days I was finding a minuscule variety of frog hanging out there.

tiny juvenile frog, possibly chorus frog, on dime for scaleThis one was pretty shy, which is good because it means it will seek shelter when danger threatens, but it makes my job a bit tougher. I wanted a scale shot and had the dime handy, but the frog wasn’t taking direction well and kept hopping further away, making me place the dime in a new position ahead of it in the hopes that it would cross it. Eventually, with many false starts, I got what I was after, even though the flash angle wasn’t ideal. Based on the size there’s a good chance it’s a form of chorus frog, which are much smaller than the either of the treefrog species.

More fun has been the trio of tiny frogs that have taken up residence on the front porch. The Girlfriend has gotten a pair of ornamental sweet potato plants with large pale green leaves, and a few posts back I said something about them attracting the golden tortoise beetle. But the frogs seem to like them too.

unidentified juvenile frog on ornamental sweet potato leaf
Again, I’m not sure what species these are. The leaves run roughly the size of your palm, so the frog itself is literally fingernail-sized – yes, even smaller than a thumbnail. Since the nights have been getting cooler now, the frogs are often seen during the day, venturing out to bask in the sunlight. They’re semi-wary, not real wild about my leaning in close, but if I go slow they’ll often stay put. Of course, I discovered the limits of their patience to determine what I could get away with.

unidentified juvenile frog deep under leaves
One of them seems more shy that the others, too. And one of them is more gold-hued, making for a colorful portrait.

unidentified juvenile frog portrait
But yeah, I can still get close. It seems likely that these are new emergents from the backyard pond, so quite possibly the same species that I was photographing as tadpoles, but I have no easy way of telling – there were several species in there at the same time and I see them sporadically enough not to be able to trace lineage.

As I close with my favorite composition (so far, anyway,) I’ll point out a little detail. There’s a pale spot under the eye, and this might be an indication that these are juvenile Copes grey treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) – they have a telltale light spot edged with black as adults, and I’ve seen it in a juvenile, albeit one a bit larger than this. So, maybe? Either way, they’re nice little accents on our front porch plants – when anyone is sharp-eyed enough to distinguish them.

unidentified juvenile treefrog, possibly Copes grey treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis, on ornamental sweet potato leaf

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