Friday, April 15, 2011

one epic day after another: frogs on film

pant, pant, pant, I’m so excited about today’s adventures!
On my way back from a run yesterday, I met a neighbor just up the road who invited me to check out a newly-built walkway and platform that is being constructed at the edge of a fragment of wetland/vernal pool across the road from our house, right next to the community elementary school.
Here ‘tis. This afternoon, having already virtuously put laundry out to dry on the deck, I headed out, camera in hand.
Oh Heaven. The frogs were in full chorus. There are two kinds of frogs out and about, calling these days: spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), and wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus). The peepers have a high pitched call – you can listen to it here. The wood frogs have more of a chuckling duck sound. You can listen to it here. Did I know this when I went out there? Did I even know it five minutes ago? I did not. Thank you, internet! And more specifically, the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas.
When I first got out to the platform, they – both theys – were calling, but stopped a couple of minutes after I got there. I didn’t know to what extent it was my presence – as soon as I got to the platform, some wood frogs in the water right by the platform disappeared in a splash. But everybody continued calling for a couple of minutes before it all died down. I knew the peepers were farther away, in or near a cluster of trees on the other side of the vernal pool, and they kept going for a while. So I figured they have a natural cycle of conversation and contemplation, and I resolved to wait them out. After about 20 minutes, everybody started in again. That’s when I remembered my magic camera can do video.
I made a video! Go check it out. There are three frogs, total, and about 47 seconds in, one of them scoots toward another rather aggressively.
I also discovered the e-zoom button on my camera, which zooms in extra close, closer than the W – T button thingy on the top of the camera. Thus, I bring to you, close-ups of floating wood frogs!
In this one, you can see he’s basically either just called, or is hanging out, because he looks skinny.
…but in this one, and the ones below, he’s inhaling and making his burbly chuckling duck call. See how fat he is, by comparison?
Look at that cute little hand! I think I’m in love. I also took several pictures of what I couldn’t see clearly, but assumed was a frog. Later, I read that female wood frogs are redder – what do you think? A female? Or some random floaty object?
Hanging out with the frogs was awesome. On the way home, I visited the usual suspects.
The alder (Alnus serrulata) catkins are getting so long that they don’t fit into one frame as close-up as I would like, so let’s zoom in and see what’s actually happening here:
I believe what we’re seeing here – the little two-part clumps – are the anthers. The anther is the part that will be releasing pollen, which will eventually make its way to the female catkins. Thank you, wikipedia.
In gray birch (Betula populifolia) land, the buds with their headdresses are opening up even more:
Or at least, this particular one is. There are still many, many buds that haven’t opened one little bit.
And here’s a gray birch male catkin – similar anther-thingys happening, I believe.
Here’s yesterday’s spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) again. Hey look: anthers!
And then there’s the shrub in the side yard that is probably some kind of azalea?
But what kind of azalea does this? I know this will produce sprays of creamy little flowers, but not for a while.

1 comment: