Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Last of the Summer Frogs

The wet season was very short lived this year. Within about two weeks of the only significant rain for the summer, most of the summer frogs had stopped calling. This was due to little follow up rain and the early onset of the colder weather. The numbers of several species was down significantly compared to the last few years. I would expect that the severe drought was the main contributing factor. On the other hand some other species have increased in numbers. At least the wet season did arrive and give an opportunity for the frogs to breed, even though it was for a shortened period. Hopefully enough have breed to boost the numbers of frogs back to similar numbers. During the few weeks after the rain many species were out breeding in good numbers so time will tell if the breeding season was long enough.

In the last few days before most of the summer frogs had stopped calling I went for a walk around the property. Most of the same species were sighted as in my last post except for the Northern Banjo Frogs, Dainty Tree Frogs and the Keferstein's Tree Frogs. There was a noticeable decline in numbers of  every other species that was sighted compared to the few weeks prior. I only took a few photos as it was getting late and I was determined to get a decent photo of the Tyler's Tree Frog for this season, which took quite a while.

A few Ornate Burrowing Frogs were spotted. This one was out in the open so it was easy to get a good photograph. As mentioned in other posts this frog can be extremely variable in colour/pattern and even skin texture. I have several, very different colours/patterns of these frogs on the property. This colour variation has been seen on the property before but is less common than the other colours/patterns found here. The shape of these frogs is quite distinct, along with the protruding eyes, but to be certain for identification, all specimens have a distinct plain circular patch between their eyes, on their back.


Ornate Burrowing Frog side view


Ornate Burrowing Frog top view, showing the circular patch between the eyes


I had to wade across the creek again to get to the Tyler's Tree Frogs. I could hear a couple calling from the house which is why I actually went out frogging briefly tonight. Luckily one of the two was sitting reasonably low on a branch, overhanging the water. It took quite a while to get a photo as I couldn't look through the eyepiece of the camera due to the height of the branch. I am concerned about the limited number of Tyler's Tree Frogs sighted and heard this year. They have only ever been heard in a small stretch of one creek on the property and only three or so were heard at one time this season. They were always in limited numbers on the property. About 25 - 30 individuals is the most I had seen and heard at any time, and most nights when they were active they usually numbered between six and twelve.


The left side of this creek is the only place the Tyler's Tree Frogs are found


Back view of one of the Tyler's Tree Frogs



The other specimen of the Tyler's Tree Frog


The same Tyler's Tree Frog as above


Tyler's Tree Frog calling


The Green Tree Snake below was in the same tree as the two Tyler's Tree Frogs. It would be one of the longest specimens that I have seen of this species. It would have been close to two and a quarter metres and had 6 distinct lumps in its belly. Most of these I presume would have been frogs. After the snake was in the tree I only heard the one Tyler's Tree Frog call out for the remainder of the night. Hopefully the Green Tree Snake didn't eat one.


Green Tree Snake



This is a recording of the advertising call of the Tyler's Tree Frog. The first frog heard in the recording is actually a Peron's Tree Frog and it continues to call throughout the recording in the background. The loud "laughing" frog in the foreground is the Tyler's Tree Frog. Eastern Sign-bearing Froglets can also be heard continually throughout the recording. They have the high pitched "eeek" sound. The occasional Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog can also be heard.



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Several Peron's Tree Frogs were seen and many more heard but this was the only one that I could access easily to photograph. They look very similar to the Tyler's Tree Frogs and Roth's Tree Frogs. I get all three of these species on my property and all three are known as the laughing tree frogs. The Roth's can be easily distinguished from the other two species by the colouring of the pupil. To identify Peron's Tree Frogs and Tyler's Tree Frogs is more difficult as they are more similar in appearance. I find the Person's Tree Frogs here have a rougher textured skin and darker markings, but this is not always the case. The blotching and patterning can change between the species so this isn't a reliable way to identify them. The best way is to observe them calling as their call is the best way to identify them, which is what I do. The Peron's Tree Frogs also have tiny green specks scattered over the dorsal surface and legs. Sometimes these specks can be hard to see though.



One of the several Peron's Tree Frogs that were sighted


The same Peron's Tree Frog from above


Peron's Tree Frog


Tonight the big Green Tree Frog on the veranda didn't want to come out of his day time hiding hole.



The big Green Tree Frog


Tonight was the first time that I had sighted the Broad-palmed Rocket Frog this season. The quantity of this species on the property is always much less than the Striped Rocket Frogs but they can usually be seen most nights after decent summer rain. This was not the case this year! The Striped Rocket Frogs would have numbered many thousands on the property. Several hundred could be seen easily most nights after good rain in a small area whereas the Broad-palmed Rocket Frogs I would estimate in the low hundreds and maybe less. The most I have ever seen in one night would have been about 30 individuals.



Broad-palmed Rocket Frog


The same Broad-palmed Rocket Frog from above


The Broad-palmed Rocket Frog from above


The biggest decline in frog numbers I noticed this year was with the Rocket Frogs. Each night less than 150 Striped Rocket Frogs were found and significantly less where heard calling throughout the property compared to the last four years. For the entire year I only sighted two Broad-palmed Rocket Frogs on the property!! Hopefully this decline in numbers was just due to the drought and the numbers pick up again in the coming years if we get better rain spread more consistently throughout the summer. Nothing else has changed in the last two years like slashed areas of the property and the times when the property is slashed. I will get a better indication of factors that effect the frog populations, the longer I observe the numbers and species of frogs on the property, the weather, farming practices etc on the property. I have something very unique here and I do everything possible to help increase the populations of the native animals.

This is a recording of the advertising call of the Broad-palmed Rocket Frog.  A Cane Toad can be heard at the beginning of the recording in the background.

The Cane Toad was located and disposed of humanely. Very few are heard calling around the property now due to me gradually removing them over the last 4 years.


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More pics and updates when more frogs are photographed and recorded.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Frogging Around My Property: 19 Species Recorded in a Few Hours

Last Saturday Jono, the creator of the frog blog, Frogging Around (http://froggingaround.com/blog) and one of his mates came to my place for a visit. He has been here before but not during the peak of the wet. After all the rain he thought it would be a great opportunity to see what my property really had to offer in terms of frog species. To be honest I think he was even a little sceptical about the number of species that I claimed to have on my property. I was hoping to at least see and hear the same number of species as I did a few nights prior. They arrived here around 6:30. It hadn't rained for nearly 2 days so I was hoping that all the frogs would be as active. There was still heaps of water around so I was confident that we would see numerous species.

We started off on the veranda where the Roth's Tree Frogs have been residing. Not as many were present tonight but we still got to see them.


One of the pale coloured Roth's Tree Frogs


One of the darker coloured Roth's Tree Frogs


There were also a few Green Tree Frogs on each veranda. I didn't bother getting any pictures of them tonight. As we made our way down to the main dams not far from the house Eastern Sign-bearing Froglets could be heard as well as many Striped Rocket Frogs, Striped Marsh Frogs and Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs. Several Red Tree Frogs were also heard in this area.




Striped Rocket Frog



One of the many Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs


Striped Marsh Frog


As we moved around to another dam I was hoping that the rocket frogs that I could hear were the Broad-palmed Rocket Frogs but none were sighted again tonight. We spotted one lone male Wilcox's Frog in the area where they are most common. As I went to obtain a photo he jumped into the long grass. This male was quite dark compared to most photos I have of them as their breeding season is nearly finished. More Wilcox's Frogs may have been present but we didn't really spend much time looking as we had both seen heaps of them before. We were looking for a few species in particular!

As we came around to the next major waterway we heard several Peron's Tree Frogs, a couple of Tyler's Tree Frogs, some Red Tree Frogs and heaps of Striped Marsh Frogs. One Peron's Tree Frog was reasonably close to the bank on a stick in the water. Due to the angle of the bank I wasn't able to get a good shot of him. The Peron's Tree Frog, also known as the Emerald Spotted Tree Frog is another one of my favourite frogs on the property, so I couldn't pass up a photo opportunity!



Peron's Tree Frog


The same Peron's Tree Frog from above


Below is a picture of one of the many Red Tree Frogs that were heard. They were even more vocal tonight than the other night. It's great to see that they are breeding in the natural habitats this year. We were hoping that this was a Bleating Tree Frog or as I usually call them Keferstein's Tree Frog. They look so similar on my property and in general they can look very similar. The only way to be absolutely certain is to play their call. Even their call is very similar. The Keferstein's Tree Frogs call is a higher pitched and slightly quicker. Visually the Keferstein's Tree Frog usually has a darker marking on its back.



Red Tree Frog


This is a recording of the advertising calls of several frogs. The Tyler's Tree Frogs is the laughing sound in the background that occurs regularly throughout the recording. Some Red Tree Frogs call out in the foreground at the start of the recording and then again in small bursts at the end. The Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs and Striped Marsh Frogs call out continually throughout the recording. The Striped Marsh Frogs is the clicking type sound throughout the recording.



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This Eastern Small-eyed Snake was a bit of a surprise. Jono's friend nearly stepped on this snake but stepped straight over the top of it. Luckily it wasn't me that nearly stood on it as I was only wearing thongs! Luckily it didn't bite any of us as it was quite aggressive!



An Eastern Small-eyed Snake


Several Great Barred Frogs were seen in their usual place. Many others were heard as well. I was very surprised as most of the ones that we sighted were quite small. I have never seen them that small since I have lived here. This is good though, as it means that they have been breeding. They were most likely juveniles from last years breeding season. They were probably less than five centimetres long.



Great Barred Frog


We were lucky enough to sight a pair in amplexus just near the bank. I was lucky as I was the only one that obtained a photo. In this area we heard the first Tusked Frog for the night. This male was guarding a foam nest in a burrow in the bank of the creek. Due to the position of the burrow I wasn't able to get a photo. They can easily number hundreds but usually not until the water level in the creeks start to drop significantly.



A pair of Great Barred Frogs in amplexus


This is a recording of the advertising call of a few Great Barred Frogs. Several Striped Marsh Frogs can be heard in the background throughout the entire recording.



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As we made our way towards the front paddocks where the flood waters were sitting, we saw many Striped Marsh Frogs of varying sizes. A few Spotted Marsh Frogs were also sighted. Most were calling from beneath the ground and from their burrows.

This is a recording of several Spotted Marsh Frogs performing their advertising call from beneath the ground and in their burrows.



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I was surprised when Jono spotted this Large Toadlet. These are also known as Major Toadlets. Usually they are very difficult to find as they call from beneath the ground or under deep leaf litter and I have found they are more active once the majority of the floodwater has resided. They can be extremely variable in colour from this bright red back with bluish sides to a dark brown or even grey back to grey or nearly white sides. The orange or yellow mark on the upper arms is one of the distinguishing features along with the darker makings along the longitudinal ridges along its back.


The only Large Toadlet sighted for the night


View of the Large Toadlet from above (notice the dark longitudinal ridges)


We heard a few Ornate Burrowing Frogs calling from the longer grass in the flooded paddock. This specimen was out in the open. This was the first time I have seen them in the water in the calling position. This frog also varies greatly in colour from one area to another and even within a small area. I have several colour variations on my property alone.



Ornate Burrowing Frog


Within the same area we also heard numerous Northern Banjo Frogs. I have only ever seen one individual on the property since I have lived here so it was nice to see that the population of these frogs has increased significantly over the last two years. I was surprised to see that some of them were calling from quite high in the reeds, about 20 to 30 centimetres out of the water. At any other location around Australia that I have seen and heard them calling, they were actually sitting in the water. These frogs are also known as Scarlet-sided Pobblebonks.
 



Northern Banjo Frog


This is a recording taken in the front paddock. You can here the advertising calls of several frogs. The main calls are the Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet and the Striped Rocket Frogs which can be heard continually for the entire recording. The Northern Banjo Frog can be heard throughout the recording also. It is the deeper call that sounds like a "bonk" sound, that is a single note.



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We heard a few Common Froglets in the front paddock but they were few in number and they were not calling continually like they normally do. As mentioned in the last post they can change significantly in numbers with the seasons. They seem to like the cooler weather generally. I heard one calling from beneath a tree and I found two specimens of frogs under this tree. I didn't see either of them calling. I am quite sure that the frog below is a Common Froglet. They can be difficult to identify due to the great variation in colour, patterning and texture. I have seen many Common Froglets that I have identified on the property as I have located them calling. The advertising call is the most reliable way to identify them as they perform a repeated clicking sound. This specimen below is extremely similar to all the other Common Froglets that I have identified here over the last few years.



Common Froglet


This next photo is the other frog that was found beneath the tree with the presumed Common Froglet above. This appears to be an Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet. They could be heard calling in very large numbers across the entire paddock. We were having real difficulty in locating them though. We did not see this frog calling either but one could be heard calling from beneath the tree as well. This specimen looks slightly different from other Eastern Sign-bearing Froglets that I have positively identified on the property. This species of frog can be very hard to distinguish from several species due to the potential differences in colour, patterning and texture also. I heard no other frogs calling from within the area and no other frogs were sighted so I assume this is a Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet, as it has many characteristics similar to other specimens.



Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet, side view


Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet from above

Just before Jono and his friend left we decided to go back to where I heard the Verreaux's Tree Frog several months back and where I heard it a few days before. We heard it do a part call but it didn't continue to call. It was in an area of long grass so it wasn't worth digging through hoping to find it as it stopped calling. We didn't want to go in without having a more precise location so we didn't stand on it. I played the Keferstein's Tree Frog call to ensure that the frogs we could hear were definitely Red Tree Frogs. I find this the best way to ensure which call I am listening to by comparing the advertising call with one I can hear with a recording. The frogs we could hear were Red Tree Frogs. Much to our surprise, the main frog that Jono was hoping to see called out. It was the
Keferstein's Tree Frog. It responded to the Keferstein's Tree Frog call that I played!!

The Keferstein's Tree Frogs look very similar to the Desert Tree Frog but the Keferstein's Tree Frog has the darker markings on its back, even if they are extremely faint. This individual's markings were quite obvious compared to some others I have seen on the property.



Keferstein's Tree Frog


The markings on the back of this Keferstein's Tree Frog were obvious


Another specimen of the numerous Striped Marsh Frogs that were sighted all around the property. Definitely the most common frog of the night. They would number in the thousands across the entire 45 acre property.

Striped Marsh Frog


After Jono left I decided I would walk across to the little island in the middle of the creeks where the Tyler's Tree Frogs and the Peron's Tree Frogs call from and breed. I was wanting to get a photo of the Tyler's Tree Frog for the season. I found them but they were high up in the tree. I only had my close up lens on my camera so this is the best photo I could manage. I will have to try and get a better photo of them in the coming weeks.



Tyler's Tree Frog four metres up the tree


While I was walking back towards the shallow part of the creek to cross back, this Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet was calling from a piece of bark that was floating on the water's edge. This specimen is what the typical Eastern Sign-bearing Froglets look like on my property. I can say definitively that this is an Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet as I saw it calling.



Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet from above


Side view of the same Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet


This is the most species that I have found in a given night on the property, or anywhere for that matter, anywhere I have travelled around Australia. All of these species have been recorded here before but I have not seen them all on one night, or even within a week. I am extremely lucky to be able to see and/or hear 19 species in a few hours, within my own backyard. This is why I am pleased that I was able to purchase the property a few months ago to help protect it and continue to improve it over the coming years for a variety of wildlife.


More pics and updates when more frogs are photographed and recorded.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Rain Finally Arrives: 14 Species Sighted/Heard on my Property in One Night

This week the rain finally arrived. Over the 3 days my property had 401 mm. With all that rain the dams and creeks have filled and overflowed so the front of the property is once again under water.....a frog's heaven. I was a little concerned that few frogs had been calling for the first two nights after the rain but on the third night they appeared again in decent numbers. I have noticed a decline in numbers of many species so far. Hopefully the numbers of each species improves as the rain continues over the coming weeks.

The Roth's Tree Frogs have been sighted regularly on the veranda of the house over the last few months. They picked a good spot on the top rafter to watch the flooding unfold. I can't believe the colour variation between all three of these specimens. One is very pale cream with a couple of darker markings, one has several darker markings and one has a very mottled appearance. In fact it looks very similar to the Peron's Tree Frogs on the property.


The Roth's Tree Frogs watching the rain from the veranda


Great colour variation between all three Roth's Tree Frogs


Roth's Tree frogs have the upper half of the iris red and the lower half silver


Some of the Roth's Tree Frogs on the veranda


The Green Tree Frogs have increased in numbers over the last few years. Most nights now, between four and eight can be seen on the verandas. This specimen below is my favourite. It is the biggest of the lot at about 85mm in length.


Green Tree Frog


Front view of the big Green Tree Frog


After getting away from the veranda I made my way down to the dam. The first or should I say, one of the many initial frogs I heard was the Spotted Marsh Frogs. This is one of the first times I have seen them in this area. Usually they are confined to an area of the front paddock.


Spotted Marsh Frog calling


This is a recording of the Spotted Marsh Frog's advertising call.


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I was really happy to hear Green Tree Frogs in the bush calling out as well. I could hear them in two distinct locations well away from each other. This is the first time I have heard them any real distance from man made structures here. To be honest it is only the second time ever I have seen them away from man made structures.


One of the Green Tree Frogs sighted in the bush


The Green Tree Frog pictured above was heading towards the area where several Green Tree Frogs were calling from. This is a recording of the advertising call of the Green Tree Frogs. You can also hear all the Graceful or Dainty Tree Frogs calling out as well.


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Many Graceful Tree Frogs or Dainty Tree Frogs were calling out. Usually they don't call for long after the rain stops falling so I was lucky to get a recording of them as the rain had stopped several hours prior to me obtaining a photo and recording. There has been a noticeable decline in their numbers so far. This could change though over the coming weeks if the rain continues. They seemed to be limited to smaller sections of the property, where some water was still present or recently dried up. Usually they could be heard over the entire property during or just after rain, during a normal wet season. The long drought may have effected their numbers and distribution within the property.
 
  

Dainty Tree Frog
 
 
Dainty Tree Frogs are also known as Graceful Tree Frogs


Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs were common over the whole property as well. It was noticeable though, compared to other years that the numbers of these has also seemed to have declined.


Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog


Striped Marsh Frogs were very common. Many could be seen hopping around in the grass and many hundreds could be heard in the water. They were breeding in huge numbers and spawn was very common in where they were calling. In a few places the noise was deafening.


One of the numerous Striped Marsh Frogs
 
 
This is a recording of the advertising call of hundreds of  Striped Marsh Frogs. Individually the sound is very different from this. A couple of Dainty Tree Frogs can also be heard throughout this recording.


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Across one of the creeks that loops around where the island forms during flooding the Tyler's Tree Frogs and Peron's Tree Frogs could be heard. About three Tyler's Tree Frogs could be heard and about seven Peron's Tree Frogs. It is amazing that each year these two species arrive back in this small area within a few days of flooding rain. I didn't obtain any photos as the water was too deep to be wading through when it wasn't essential. It was about 1.2 metres deep but it was flowing. Within a few days it will be low enough to walk though at about 80 centimetres when it stops flowing.

I could also hear Verreaux's Tree Frogs calling out from the island. I have only seen one individual here before but it has an obvious call. I was pleased as there were two individuals calling out. It was directly across the creek from where I had sighted the specimen last year.


These Red Tree Frogs or Desert Tree Frogs were sighted near the house. This is common as usually they are all seen around the ponds, shed and house. During the drought many (approximately 30) plus a few Keferstein's Tree Frogs had moved into the water tanks. During a normal wet season they would be always seen around the house. I am pleased to say that only two were seen around man made structures so far since the rain. Most were sighted around the creeks, floodways and around the dams.


A Red Tree Frog enjoying some water in the rain gauge


This Red Tree Frog or Desert Tree Frog was on the veranda


One of the many Red Tree Frogs on the edge of the creek


This is a recording of the advertising call of the Red Tree Frog. The Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs can also be heard calling


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Striped Rocket Frogs were sighted in large numbers. I was hoping to see some of the Broad-palmed Rocket Frogs in the areas where they are usually seen but I was unable to locate any. In the places where the Broad-palmed Rocket Frogs are seen numerous Striped Rocket Frogs were spotted. Hopefully the others will show over the coming weeks. The Striped Rocket Frogs seem to push the Broad-palmed Rocket Frogs into a smaller area each season.


Striped Rocket Frog calling


Striped Rocket Frog from above.


This Common Froglet was sighted easily as I approached the dam. This was the quickest that I have found one. As I heard it calling I moved in and it continued to call. Usually as you approach they stop calling and move to a new location. Many could be heard around the dam. The Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet seemed to be much more prolific than the Common Froglet at this stage. As the seasons change the numbers of these two froglets can change significantly during a good wet season, so this may not be due to the drought. I could hear many of these calling out during the day in the front paddock as I left. Even though I could hear many more, I was unable to locate an Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet to obtain a photo tonight.


Common Froglet


A Common Froglet calling also known as a Clicking Froglet 
 
 
Some more pictures of the numerous Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs.
 
 
An Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog on the sedge in the dam


A pair of Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs in amplexus


An Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog calling from a lily pad


Another Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog calling from a lily pad


Another Dainty Tree Fog calling. This specimen and many others were near the other Green Tree Frogs that were calling out in the bush.



Dainty Tree Frog


This is a clearer but softer recording of the Dainty Tree Frogs performing their advertisement call. There were not as many present in this area so you can hear the call more clearly.



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One of the many hundreds of Striped Marsh Frogs that were breeding in the creeks.



Striped Marsh Frog

I was really happy to see and hear one of my favourite frogs again, the Great Barred Frogs. I could hear them as soon as I walked outside. Their call carries a long way and is very distinct. They are a very predictable frog. They always appear a few days after flooding in the creeks and they are always within a 50 metre stretch of the same riverbank. I found about four tonight but could hear many others.


Great Barred Frog


As I was walking away from where the Great Barred Frogs are located I saw a huge frog jump by me. I thought it was a large Great Barred Frog by the size but it was in fact a female Wilcox's Frog. It is the largest specimen I have ever seen. It was an easy 7 centimetres in length. I didn't realise they grew so big. Within a few minutes I sighted another female nearly as big. I didn't locate any males all night.



A large female Wilcox's Frog


The same female Wilcox's Frog from above

The other large female Wilcox's Frog


In the front paddock I found many Spotted Marsh Frogs. This is the area where they are more common. When I first spotted this specimen I thought I had found the Salmon Striped Frog again on my property. I have many people doubt that I have ever sighted them here and some believe me but are sceptical. Luckily I have photographic evidence. Unfortunately this was not one. I thought it was as it was quite large compared to the normal Spotted Marsh Frogs and the orange stripes were very distinct. Also the body shape seemed more arched like the Salmon Striped Frog. Usually the Spotted Marsh Frogs sit flatter on the ground. A Salmon Striped Frog has another orange line coming out from the back groin up the belly, which this frog lacked, which is the most distinguishing feature of the Salmon Striped frog.




Large Spotted Marsh Frog



Side view of the Large Spotted Marsh Frog

 
More pics and updates when more frogs are photographed and recorded.