Frogs are strange creatures. One would describe them as peculiarly wary and timid, another as equally bold and imperturbable. All that is required in studying them is patience.
~Henry David Thoreau
My plans to post on moths during National Moth Week have been easily waylaid – it appears as though I am easily distracted whenever I go outside. And so it was yesterday afternoon. I was taking a few images of a couple of moths clinging to the screen porch when I noticed a flower blooming on the Jewelweed near the porch. I had thrown a few seeds out two years ago in a small patch of ground out back that normally stays damp due to runoff from the slope above. I had also planted a few Netted Chain Ferns and called it my backyard wetland. In actuality it is only about 5 feet across and tends to wither during times of dry weather, but it has produced a few interesting insects and an occasional hummingbird visitor. When I walked over to check out the flower, I was surprised to see an unusual visitor perched high on a Jewelweed stem – a Green Treefrog, Hyla cinerea.
By day, they often perch on vegetation in a very sedate pose, their legs folded tight against their body. They can sit like this for hours and seem to blend into their chosen plant perch.
The unmistakable bright green color and the white “racing stripe” down the sides are distinctive for this species.
They frequently have small golden splotches on their dorsum, which may serve some camouflage function in a sun-dappled environment.
This is the first Green Treefrog I have seen at the house. And it comes as a bit of a surprise, since there are no wetlands up here on the hill. The closest suitable habitat is about a half mile down the power line, but I have never heard their distinctive “queenk” call anywhere out here. About a decade ago, I reported this species near a water garden at the place I used to live in Chatham County. That proved to be a new county record for this species, which is much more common in our Coastal Plain than in the Piedmont, although they seem to be expanding westward.
This little guy was very calm, or, as HDT might say, imperturbable. I photographed it from several angles and it remained peaceful, thinking its froggy thoughts, or perhaps just pretending to be part of a plant. A close look revealed intricate details in the patterns of its eye and the folds of its moist skin.
After about an hour, it started raining, so I reluctantly went back inside. This morning when I checked, my visitor had vanished. Whatever the reason, I am glad it paid a visit to my “wetland” and made me stop and appreciate its beauty. Now, about those moths…