Skill Level 2

Okay, how about now?

oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia in front garden
Can you spot what I was photographing yesterday, as I was putting up the Halloween decorations (why I don’t know, because we’re not going to have trick-or-treaters this year I’m sure, which means the book stockpile isn’t going to go down either.) This one’s a little harder than the last one, so take your time.

Of course we’re going in closer.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea on dead leaf of oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia
I don’t think anyone has ever proclaimed that amphibians are particularly brilliant (in intellect, I mean,) but c’mon, they’re supposed to know how camouflage works. There’s only one completely brown leaf on the whole damn plant, and that’s the one my bud here decided to hole up for the day upon.

Okay, credit where it may be due, it also curls over enough to perhaps conserve a little body heat, so maybe that was the goal. And from the size and partial concealment, it really was pretty subtle – to, you know, normal people. I spotted it instantly. From a distance. Without my glasses, even.

No, I lie shamelessly – it did take a moment or so before I realized that the green treefrog (Hyla cinerea) had returned to the plant after being gone for several days. But full credit to it, because it stayed put while I marched around it, trying to give it as much distance as possible, which wasn’t that much, maybe a meter, ladder clanging and everything. Though the reason behind this might be found with a closer look.

decidedly bleary-looking green treefrog Hyla cinerea hiding within dead leaf
That – is the look of someone who was up too late Friday night, doing things they shouldn’t have. I can’t imagine the adjusting of the ladder, and my ubiquitous cursing, helped that in any way.

You may well scoff that I’m reading too much into it, but this has further support with another discovery around by the back porch.

Copes grey treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis trying not to vom
Just look at this Copes grey treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) clutching the drain hose from the rainbarrel, especially those eyes, and tell me that it isn’t desperately wishing for the world to stop spinning. I’ve seen this look far too many times from coworkers. I don’t know what kind of amphibian celebration I missed the night before, but it was certainly enthusiastic.

By the way, I have to pass along that, early yesterday evening (and thus a few hours after seeing the green one in its hiding spot,) I tried to point it out to someone else and noticed it missing – along with the leaf it had been perched upon, which was found down underneath the hydrangea. A little tip from your Uncle Al: don’t pick the dead leaves that are about to fall to go to sleep upon. I’m betting that did nothing at all for the frog’s state of mind.

But back during the afternoon, while photographing those two subjects, I began hearing a soft almost-squeaking, like someone trying to rub ink stains off of a balloon, and said, I know that sound. In fact, I featured it almost exactly ten years ago.

trio of northern flickers Colaptes auratus congregating in pine tree
Careful observation showed four northern flickers (Colaptes auratus) flitting among several trees on and around the property, deeply engrossed in some kind of conversation, though what it was all about I couldn’t say for sure; my Flickerese is a little rusty now since I don’t live there anymore. I could only get three of them in the frame at any one time, and aiming up into the bright sky trying for subjects in shadow, I was lucky to even get this; most of the other frames have been tossed already, and this one had to still be lightened for display here despite dialing in exposure compensation for that sky. Still, their positions are expressive, which is great, but why they continued to hang out so close together and talk so much, I can’t say. There was no squabbling going on, no apparent courting behavior, no apparent begging behavior, and they tended to split off into pairs which also takes away support for such ideas. Potentially just discussing whatever was on Tubi last night. Or maybe the godawful racket from the frogs’ party…

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