Nature News: A beginner naturalist discovers frogs
Posted on 16 June, 2016 by Connecting Country
With all this rain, it’s a good time to share Naomi Raftery’s story of discovery of our more elusive local residents – frogs. She’s found that many different types exist in our waterways and backyards… you just need to use your ears to find them! This Nature News article appeared in the Midland Express on the 3rd May 2016. Also, if you have a copy of last weeks paper (Midland Express, 7 June 2016, page 17), you’ll find a great article by Max Schlachter on our nest box program.
It started in February this year. We had recently moved into a house that shares a back fence with a usually dry creek. A summer downpour of rain and our quiet backyard gained a sort of roaring sound that could only be water. I went to look and rushed back inside to declare that there was a ‘raging torrent’ at the back of our new house.
With that summer downpour came a new interest in my life. Frogs. We knew they were out there, as the soothing sound of a natural amphibian chorus stayed with us in our sleep each night, but we hardly ever saw them. That is until I went into the back yard and saw one pushing itself forward with impossibly skinny back legs. At first I thought it was a rat but the movement was unmistakeable. I was curious to find out more.
Frogs are hard to identify, so I used the free Frogs Field Guide from the North Central Catchment Management Authority to help. Species in our local area include three types of tree frogs, which have small round pads at the end of each toe, a special adaptation that helps them to climb trees. There are also nine species of a group known as the Southern frogs, which are not brightly coloured or endowed with poisonous secretions for your arrow tips like other frogs, but they are warty reminders to take care of our riparian areas for the next generation of tadpoles.
Identification required me to learn to listen. I started by trying to decipher just one croak. Slowly different noises came clear. There was the ‘bonk’ single call of the Pobblebonk and the ‘crick crick crick crick crick’ of the Common Froglet. It was fun to try and make this noise myself.
Recently the disused bathtub in our yard half filled with water. I walked past and noticed the water ripple and caught sight of a frog stuck in the bath. After fishing it out, my daughter and I released it in the reeds at the back of the house. I identified it as a Pobblebonk and they’re pretty common around here. Less common are the bright green and very sweet Growling Grass Frogs. This species is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. A local expert heard them singing at Kalimna Park during the last flood.
As my frog identification journey continues, I’ve gathered a solid set of resources to help along the way. You can download a free copy of the Frogs Field Guide from www.nccma.vic.gov.au. Our local frogs are also highlighted in Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country by Chris Tzaros. I also like www.frogs.org.au.