Frog Monday

Posted with a nod to the Inestimable Mr Bugg, who told me weeks ago that he was going to do his ‘Frog Friday’ topic for August, but then apparently the server lost his posts until recently. Meanwhile, I waited on my various frog pics so as not to upstage him, and now appear to be copying him instead. Ah well.

Our first is the most recent, a peculiar portrait that I couldn’t pass on.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea hiding in ant trap
“What the hell am I looking at here?” I hear you say, and normally I’d let you figure it out for yourself just for using profanity, but fuck it, I’m feeling generous. Because of ant raids, I’d constructed a little ant trap on the hanger for the hummingbird feeder on the back porch, a simple device from a plastic bottle that retains water around the wire so ants cannot cross; it’s been there for years now. After heavy rains the other day, I was up on a stepladder cleaning out a clogged gutter, glanced over and saw the bare hints of this individual (which is a green treefrog, Hyla cinerea,) so of course I needed the photo.

After this, I reached in there carefully to see if I could nudge it into better view, and it panicked and leapt out of the bowl in one great arc, landing on my camera lens – for obvious reasons, I could not get a pic of this (because it would have required using my phone, and you know how I feel about that kind of bullshit.) Anyway, it was transferred over to the porch railing without further drama.

juvenile Copes grey treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis on tomato plant
Back at the beginning of the month, I found this tiny little guy perched like a jewel on the leaves of one of the tomato plants by the front steps – it’s a juvenile Copes grey treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis,) and is slightly larger than a Japanese beetle in size (which puts it less than 1/4 of adult length.) I’ve kept a wary eye out ever since, but have never spotted it. This isn’t too alarming, because the number of places in the immediate vicinity where it could find cover are great, but still…

We’re going to be alternating greens here.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea calling at night
This one’s even older, coming from the beginning of June, but another green treefrog was calling on the edge of the nearby pond one night – you can see the half-inflated throat pouch and the fully-inflated belly, which will switch places during the active call. I liked this one, however, for the placement of the hind foot, clasped against the belly like that; added oomph to the call, is what I’m guessing. I hope it worked in helping to find a mate – evolving clever frogs would be fun to see.

How about something more ominous?

Amercian bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus looming from darkness because of mis-aimed flash unit
I have plenty of photos where a mistake was made, or something didn’t turn out as planned, and I usually toss them during the sort. But occasionally, an unintended effect comes up and makes me keep them, and this is one example. I’d forgotten that the flash was aimed for a different subject, and as I corrected it after this frame, the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) disappeared, but the under-exposure gives it a nice looming quality. Plus the framing lends a little idea to the size of the specimen, which was appreciable: it would have overlapped my open palm easily, and could swallow a mouse. I’d love to be able to catch one eating something (or indeed, any of the various frog species here in some kind of action,) but even getting close to them requires stalking at night with bright lights to dazzle them, and then they’re too sensitive to impending danger to act naturally. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to accomplish this.

And our last green treefrog. For now.

young adult green treefrog Hyla cinerea perched on edge of birdbath
This one was perched on the edge of the birdbath in the front garden one evening, so I quickly got a few frames before it moved on. It would be easy to believe that the treefrogs are fond of ponds, birdbaths, and other water sources, but in truth, they’re only used for laying their eggs, and otherwise treefrogs inhabit a fairly dry environment, despite their need to remain moist. They’re usually not out in the rain, but may emerge soon afterward, seeming to prefer post-storm conditions for mating. So no, this guy wasn’t swimming in the birdbath – it just happened to be a handy spot on its nightly perambulations. This was roughly half adult size, so about as big as the top joint of my thumb, and seems to be hanging around the front area, which I’m doing nothing to discourage – except [ahem] that I keep looming into their faces and firing off bright lights. But we’re maintaining a lot of plants and even light sources to attract insects, offsetting the negative aspects more than adequately, I hope. The numbers have noticeably increased, so we’re not doing anything too wrong.

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