A Chorus of Frogs

Upland Chorus Frog belting out its surprisingly loud song.

As I mentioned in a previous entry in this journal, Spring Peepers and Upland Chorus Frogs had been calling vigorously during the warm weather of last week. We certainly have chorus frogs here at the Museum but they are difficult to locate visually. The best place to look for them is the U-shaped pond next to the Bungee Jump in Catch the Wind.

Upland Chorus Frogs are small (about 1″ – 1.5″) and typically cease their singing when approached by curious naturalists, often ducking down into the water of the shallow pools from which they call. It can be very frustrating to get  even a glimpse of one of these little tree frogs. However, I know several places were their numbers (thousands) are such that your chances of seeing them increase dramatically. I took advantage of the warm weather Sunday and visited one of these places.

The tire tracks along a powerline cut make excellent places to find early spring breeding chorus frogs, assuming the track is not traveled too often.

There were many, many chorus frogs along a local powerline cut on that fine, warm Sunday. And, there were plenty of eggs to be seen. As mentioned, the frogs stop their singing when you get in too close, which is sometimes as far as 15 or even 20 feet distance. Slow, low, and steady is the key to getting close.

I had to sneak up on this frog. Still, it wouldn’t sing for me, I was too close.
Approaching from the rear sometimes helps.

If you can spot the frogs before they see you, you may be able to sneak up on them. But beware, when the frog’s neighbors see you they stop singing, which causes the rest of them to stop. They’re now on alert. You may have to either move away or stand perfectly still for ten or fifteen minutes before they start up again, if you’re lucky.

Frog eyes are adapted to sensing movement. Still objects are simply inanimate objects to them while moving objects can be either prey or predator. Keep that in mind and you should be able to get close to at least some of the frogs. Binoculars offer a distinct advantage, spot them from a distance and move in slowly.

This frog has seen me, stopped singing and is about to slip beneath the surface to the safety of the vegetation below.

I also hoped to see a few mole salamanders while at this particular site. The relatively warm rains of February get them moving to vernal pools and sloughs to deposit their eggs. Marbled Salamanders breed in late fall. I expected to find nymphs of this species. Spotted Salamanders breed in late winter to spring, in other words, right now. I hoped to find eggs of the spotteds.

I did not find eggs of the spotted variety of salamander but there were many marbled nymphs to be seen.

A small handful of salamander nymphs.

Although I didn’t see Spotted Salamanders or their eggs it was a pleasant and fun day, and much warmer than it is today!

Oh, by the way, the nymphs were placed back in the water after they were photographed. With any luck, I’ll see their young next year when I go back to this site.

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