Wednesday, March 29, 2006


about a week ago, just after dusk, we heard the first frog of the year. one lonely frog somewhere close to our pond. in subsequent evenings he was joined by others. it reminded us of last spring. the frog chorus at night is loud, and as we found out, sung by the kind of frog hollywood records for its standard frog sound. we spent some time last year, and last week, looking for the frogs. we did see some last year, but none last week. we were amazed that such a small frog, sometimes barely an inch long, makes such a loud noise.

i was doing a bit of pond maintenance this morning and looked down to see a frog hopping by, so i picked it up and called RD to bring the camera. mr frog wasn't going to sit still in my hand for pictures. i set him (guessing here about sex) down on the pebbled concrete and he hopped a ways and then stopped and held still for several pictures. we're tentatively calling it a pacific tree frog, Hyla regilla (also Pseudacris regilla). it's darker than the examples we found, but fits the other descriptive criteria which distinguish it from close relatives, particularly the round pads at the end of its fingers.

these frogs, as their name indicate, live in the forest. they don't apparently climb trees very much, preferring damp places under rocks or logs or forest litter, where they find insects to eat. in early spring the males find a pond, mark territory with ribbits, and start calling the females. so all that noise is either "c'mere honey" or "beat it bud, you're on my turf." we like the sound. from the quiet, one frog, the "chorusmaster," will begin croaking. then others will chime in and the chorus will go on for a while, til at some hidden signal they all stop. i'm impressed in the same way that bands impress me by winding up a big number with a final flurry of sound and all stopping on the same beat, or the way that a flock of several hundred little birds flies as a unit.

here is froggy in my hand, so you can see his size. the round pads on his toes show up nicely too. i dropped him in the pond and he swam away quickly to hide in the algae at the bottom

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