Ribbon cutting

I’ve said before (many times) that I have my own indication of when spring is officially here, and last evening, though technically only a few hours ago, we reached that mark. On stepping onto the back deck late at night, I glanced down and saw my first treefrog, a Copes grey, sitting on the lip of a planter. Even though dinner was about ready (I’m on a weird schedule, well, no schedule at all actually,) I grabbed the camera and macro flash and went back out to record this event. This took only a couple of minutes, since I had a minor task to do as I passed, but when I got back out, there was no sign of the frog.

This was slightly curious, because this portion of the deck is wide open with few hiding spots, and I know treefrogs don’t tend to move too fast, but a thorough search of the surroundings failed to turn up my official first frog. Nertz. But then as I passed a nearby planter, I found someone else looking at me casually as if to say, “Hey.”

green treefrog Hyla cinerea peering out from planter well
This is instead a green treefrog (Hyla cinerea,) though you’d know that if you read even three posts at random from the past year, because we’ve got ’em in spades on the property. This was, in fact, immediately alongside the planter seen here, which lends a little weight to it being the same one, but not a lot. Now having seen two (even though one disappeared,) I started checking out the yard and, in short, spotted at least six individuals in various locations, such as this juvenile scaling the shed.

juvenile green treefrog Hyla cinerea clinging to the cornice
I had no easy way of providing scale, but this one was less than half the size of the previous, a bit shorter than my thumb, and obviously last year’s brood.

I checked out the backyard pond, badly in need of cleaning after this winter, and found another harbinger alongside.

green frog Lithobates clamitans venturing out in spring
This is an aquatic green frog (Lithobates clamitans) – not a treefrog, and I really wish they’d pick a different common name. They’re always a lot spookier than the treefrogs, and this was the best frame that I got, because it leapt into the pond as I maneuvered for a better perspective, but that was all right, because I was simply cataloging how many different species I could find. The air was slightly chill, making me put on an overshirt, but otherwise quite nice, and the frogs were deciding that it was time to get out.

I was hearing some activity from the neighborhood pond and decided to head over there, but as I went up the back steps to enter the porch, I found my original subject.

Copes grey treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis clinging to porch screen
Now that’s a Copes grey treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis,) and judging from the size alone I’d say it was the same one, though it had crossed the porch and scaled either the steps or the support posts to get about three meters higher than when I first spotted it, so it was on a mission, anyway, but I was glad to get the chance to photograph it as the official first. Cooperatively, it was showing off the brilliant yellow patches along the hindlegs, often tucked away out of sight whenever the frog is in a typical pose.

Down by the neighborhood pond, I was following the calls and soon spotted an American toad (Anaxyrus americanus) advertising for some action, which it was kind enough to do as the headlamp was on it, so I could get a decent frame.

American toad Anaxyrus americanus calling
Unfortunately, I made a small mistake, and only took the camera and flash arm with me on the short jaunt, forgetting that the batteries were quite low. It was enough to get a few still frames, but as I switched over to video to get a short clip, that was too much for the batteries and they died completely; the spares were, of course, in the bag a few hundred meters away back at the house. Ah well. I also got out the smutphone to at least do a couple of audio tracks of the call, but at that point the toad decided to cease making noise, because that’s what wildlife does. I’ll return with the full video rig later on to ensure that nobody provides any useful displays or calls.

Anyway, happy official first day of spring, calendar be damned, and get out and try to enjoy it a little more eagerly than my final model for the evening here. Cheers!

green treefrog Hyla cinerea peeking from downspout stub