Saturday, April 22, 2006

Feeling Froggy? Get A Headlamp And Get Out There!


A few nights ago, I put on the little LED headlamp and crept down to the pond. It was quiet, so I was not expecting any "frogapalooza" mating frenzy such as will occur when the rains return. I could hear the bullfrog "jugarum" call, but I knew they would be there, because they are always there...unless it's really cold. During the day, when you walk to the pond, the entire shore erupts into squeaks and ploppy splashes as the shore-sitting bullfrogs leap back into the water. My pond is loaded.


The headlamp light transfixes these frogs so that you can walk right up to the point that by keeping the light steady in their eyes, I've managed to reach down and snatch one up for a more personal visit. They are huge...certainly eating size, so you might be wondering..."does the hunter- gatherer-fishermany FC gig frogs?" No.
Frog legs are delicious...they may be the one food that actually does taste like chicken.
There's just something about a frog to me...maybe it's the big eyes. Anyway, I let them be.


Last summer, there were hundreds of very large tadpoles in the pond and even now I see a few basking in the shallows during the day. I read somewhere that bullfrog tadpoles take up to a year to mature, where most other tadpoles become frogs in a few weeks. The pond was surrounded by young bullfrogs last summer also, so many of these bigger ploppers are probably that crop.

My pond is basically bullfrog heaven. Lots of submerged plants to hide in, coupled with a swamp of black willow at the south end. There is cover everywhere. There are fish in the pond, but no largemouth bass and the banks are steep...mostly, so wading birds are less effective. Also, the pond is populated by a giant population of gambusia minnows so food is abundant.

Of course, the main thing that makes it froggy heaven is the fact that I don't carry a gig when I wear my headlamp. Posted by Picasa


pablo said...

I share your sentiment toward frogs. Last year at this time we found lots of eggs floating in the water of our lake, but so far this year there have been none. Of course the lake is much lower this year compared to last so it may not be as desirable a nursery. Also, those mystery fishies I have are now a year larger, so they may be predating on the eggs and tadpoles. I dunno.

Wayne said...

Build it and they will come! And happy are we when startled by the warning yelps when we come too close.

Last night we heard our gray treefrogs for the first time this year, as well as American toads, who take awhile to dig out from their hibernations. I didn't use my caving helmet light, but the sounds were great.

We still have bullfrogs, and our resident wildlife biologist warned us they would end up being the only frogs, as they'd eat all the others, but something interesting happened. A red-bellied water snake, four feet long, moved in. The other frog species are very happy about that, and have proliferated.

Floridacracker said...

The frog egg comment is interesting because you are there and I am here, and our frogs have yet to lay eggs. Considering our climate differences, I find that odd that we are on a similar frog reproduction schedule.

That is the one thing I see very little of at the pond...water snakes. Weird, because they are thick in local streams and swamps. I don't think my 8 catfish, as big as they are, are efficient frog predators. Plus, I feed them almost daily with catfish chow.

threecollie said...

I am much impressed by your frog photos. Our green frogs are just starting to come out of hibernation, but I still can't get a good shot...and they are right in my little garden pond, which started life as a 300-gallon Rubbermaid watering trough. Our peepers still aren't calling nights and we have had some real warm days. Don't know what is going on.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

FC-- Great frog photos. I had not thought of taking a light outside to check on the froggy chorus coming from our pond. What a great idea. We don't see much of our frog population, but they do serenade us to sleep.

roger said...

our frogs are safe from us at least. it would take a bushel to make small meal of legs. love the nightlight idea. we're on it.

Laura said...

Boy, I'lll bet that's one noisy pond on occassion. The frogs around my pond are just about as noisy as our bird!

As an aside, just wanted to let Pablo know that I got a laugh out of his cow/bull comment from your other post. I'm a city girl, couldn't tell the difference!

Y'all have a great weekend!

Mrs. S said...

Growing up I was the queen of catching frogs from the little pond between our property and our neighbours - we'd often take a large group of frog eggs in early spring into a kindergarten class to let the little kids watch the tadpoles grow up. I haven't heard frogs in probably 5 years - since I moved - and this post made me realize how much I miss them.

I've never tasted them, though. Are Canadian frogs good to eat?

vicki said...

FC- All the while you were on Spring Break I was going back to school over here at your place. Thank you for the wonderful week of education. We still have lots of peepers at night at Wit's End and some spotted salamanders, too- they make a night light trip lots of fun. We've heard a few bullfrogs but I'm sure it's too early for eggs. These are great photos here. The one I'm waiting to catch at my place is the day the dumb turtle waddles into the middle of the dirt road, digs a hole and lays her eggs. This happens every year at Wit's End and if we catch her we chase her back into the water in hopes she'll rethink a bad plan.

Tim Rice said...

Ah, you make me homesick for the home farm where my brother has a large pond. During the summers, you could the bullfrogs for long periods of time. And there were loads of them.

Floridacracker said...

They came out okay, but you should know it was really easy. Just keep the light on them so your camera can focus in the dark. Thanks.

Night walks are so cool, you may find things you never suspected.

Anticipating your photos!

When the toads decide to spawn all at once, it's so noisy you have to close windows...unbelievable.

Mrs. S,
I hope every kid has done that, watching tadpoles become frogs. I still do it.

Hey! Glad you're feeling better and showing up again on the blogoscope :)

Sounds great.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

There is a swampy area across from my house and I can hear the bull frogs nightly...but mine say "Bud wei ser," like the frogs of SuperBowls past. *LOL*

Our pond used to have plenty of giant bull frogs and nobody gigs...but they have been missing for a couple of years now. There are large mouth bass in there and do you think this is why?

Floridacracker said...

I loved the Budwieser frogs, but not the brand.

I don't think bass would wipe out a frog population, just keep it balanced. Mine don't have any competition like that.

Hick said...

I love the look of frogs (I love to eat their legs, too.) I like the middle photo the best. It should be in National Geographic...or Food and Wine. Heh!

doubleknot said...

What an adventure - taking another night time hunt.
We are so dry here I don't hear any kind of frog. Not being near a pond either makes it almost impossible. Were I lived before the hurricans was next to a fish farm so there were plenty of frogs to sing in the night.

Deb said...

Cool! I don't have bullfrogs here but the peepers are a-peepin'.

Floridacracker said...

I see you are kind of bipolar when it comes to frogs :)

I bet a fish farm is one froggy place...probably loud in the spring.

The treefrogs have reappeared here and are slurping the window bugs each night.