A Little Brown Snake, Calling Frogs, and Stewed Turtles

A small Brown Snake delighted a group of schoolchildren as it attempted to cross the paved path just below the Lemur House. The tiny snake, unable to gain traction on the relatively smooth macadam to propel itself forward, kept sliding sideways down the path as it wriggled along in high gear. With much effort, and a little coaxing by me, it finally made it to the side of the path and disappeared into the grass.

Northern Cricket Frogs are calling in earnest from the banks and rushes of the Wetlands, their click, click, click sounding more like an insect than a frog. I sighted a few of these tiny frogs perched on the lotus pads on the north side of the Wetlands. Gray and Green Treefrogs are also beginning to vocalize, although they’re just warming up. The next thunderstorm should put them into a frenzy. At the first sign of rain the frogs will break into song. A good downpour will send them scrambling down out of the trees and shuffling for a mate.

The deep, bellowing calls of Bullfrogs have finally been heard coming from the Wetlands. The frogs have been present for some time but just recently begun to call.

A good many Bullfrog tadpoles from last year are showing short rear legs as they hang motionless just below the water’s surface. They’re about to become frogs, and the timing couldn’t be better. Many an unwary Bullfrog has fallen prey to the resident Red-shouldered Hawks during the past several months. There are noticeably fewer Bullfrogs in the Wetlands than there were at the end of the season last year. This new generation of maturing tadpoles will fill the void, and the bellies of several predators.

Although turtles were hauled out in numbers basking during most of this period, there appears to be a point at which a pleasant bask in the sunshine becomes a slow stew in the shell. I think that point may be realized when the temperature hits the 90s as it did on the 22nd-27th of this month. There were very few turtles out on rocks or logs after the noon hour on those days. The sun was intense. If any turtle hauled out after noon, it certainly didn’t linger.

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