Friday, September 27, 2013

Monitoring Frog Populations around the Sunshine Coast

The first several photos are taken at my property a few nights ago when a heap of Peron's Tree Frogs were calling out in a location that was easy to access.

Peron's Tree Frog

The same Peron's Tree Frog

Also called the Emerald Spotted Tree Frog

Peron's Tree Frog performing its advertisement call

The Peron's Tree Frog performing its advertisement call again

Last night a friend and I went out with Eva to do some monitoring of animals, frogs in particular at four sites around the Sunshine Coast. This is a really interesting process and is done in a scientific manner to make the research valid and accurate and is done over a period of many years to look for trends within areas and across the whole region. At each location water testing is done to test the temperature of the water, the dissolved oxygen in the water, pH of the water, and the salt concentration as well. A special device that records and detects micro bats is also used. The time and weather conditions is recorded as well as the moon cycle.

Each site has a 100 metre stretch of creek that we follow. Only animals within this zone are recorded. The distance at which they were found along the transect is recorded as well as any other information like whether it was seen or heard, the gender and size etc. Some photos and sound recordings are taken as well. Before we move into a new area our shoes are washed in a solution to kill any potential chytrid fungus that may have been picked up to ensure that it is not transferred into another system if it is present. Last night it was quite a warm night. It was very still and dark as the moon, which was at half moon was not up until later in the night. We left from my property at 6 and we continued through until approximately 1 am this morning until we returned home.

Last night we started off at a site at Cedar Creek. All the sites were easily accessible and easy to move around once within the transect,  compared to some of the sites I went to a week earlier. Heaps of species were seen at all the sites which was good for us to see. At this first site dozens of Pearson's Green Tree Frogs were seen and heard with a large range of colour variations. We also heard Great Barred Frogs, Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs and Dainty Tree Frogs within the general area.

Pearson's Green Tree Frog

The same Pearson's Green Tree Frog

The Pearson's Green Tree Frog again

Another specimen and colour variation of a Pearson's Green Tree Frog

Another specimen and colour variation of a Pearson's Green Tree Frog

After a short drive we arrived at destination number two which was on Belli Creek. This site had more species and was the nicest to visit as well. Here we saw possums, a melomy, a bandicoot, a massive carpet snake, heaps of very large spiders (15 - 20 centimetres across including the legs), a variety of other insects, several micro bats as well as a good variety of frogs.

Pearson's Green Tree Frogs were in good numbers here as well.

Pearson's Green Tree Frogs are also called Cascade Tree Frogs

Several large male Giant Barred Frogs were found here.

Giant Barred Frog

Another Giant Barred Frog

The same Giant Barred Frog as above

Many different types of insect were seen including this one which resembled a cockroach but I am unsure as to what it actually was. It was about 6 centimetres long, not including the antennae.

One of the many insects that were seen on the trip

Another shot of this large insect

Only a few Wilcox's Frogs were seen on the transect.

Wilcox's Frog

Another male Wilcox's Frog

Theses two males were fighting each other but I missed a photo of them wrestling. On they way back I did manage to get a photo and recording though. While they are wrestling they make some unusual noises that are not part of their normal call.

A male Giant Barred Frog

Another male Giant Barred Frog

Many Tusked Frogs could be heard along the creek. This female came out just as we were making our way over this shallow pool. She was most likely making her way to the males that were calling out only a few metres away. We also found a few foam nests of eggs from the Tusked Frogs along the bank too.

Tusked Frog

This carpet snake was quite impressive. Not the biggest I've seen by any means, but still a decent sized snake. It was a good 3 metres long and about 30 - 35 centimetres in circumference along the majority of its body.

Carpet Snake

Several Great Barred Frogs could be heard but we only managed to locate a couple.

Great Barred Frog

The same Great Barred Frog

On the way back we managed to capture and record the sound of the two male Giant Barred Frogs fighting.

Two male Giant Barred Frogs fighting

Two male Giant Barred Frogs fighting still

This is a short recording of the noises that the male Giant Barred Frogs were making as they were fighting.

The third site was Six Mile Creek near Cooroy. We didn't see many frogs here even though the habitat is very similar to the other 2 spots. The soil is much drier and sandier which could effect the frogs. We heard a few Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs, Dainty Tree Frogs and Tusked Frogs. We only saw one Dainty Tree Frog and a large female Giant Barred Frog.

Dainty Tree Frog

Dainty Tree Frogs are also called Graceful Tree Frogs

Large female Giant Barred Frog

The last site was Cooroora Creek. We saw many smaller, young male Giant Barred Frogs, a few very large female Giant Barred Frogs, a few Striped Marsh Frogs, Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs as well as hearing some Dainty Tree Frogs and Tusked Frogs. Some micro bats were active here as well. Several large snails and birds were also seen at this location.

Striped Marsh Frog

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog

Large female Giant Barred Frog

Large female Giant Barred Frog from front on

It was a very rewarding night and I learnt a lot again. I was pretty exhausted from a big day on the farm and then following up with this until around 1 a.m. when we arrived back at my house, had really worn me out but I would definitely do it again. As I was going inside the door I saw I had one last frog species to photograph. One of the resident Green Tree Frogs was sitting under the light near the door getting his fill for the night. No wonder he looks so healthy and big!!

Green Tree Frog

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

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