You can’t tell by the look of a frog how far they’ll jump.
Took a stroll around the property yesterday, camera in hand, looking for the tiny creatures who share these woods. One thing really impressed me – the amazing number of spider webs that seemed to block my way at every turn. When I spotted one, I tried to side step it so as to not ruin a night’s work, but I still managed a head full of silk strands (luckily, it blends in well). While focusing on the tiny subjects without backbones, I caught a quick movement over by the wet weather stream in our ravine. I looked, and saw nothing, but I suspected I knew what it had been. I turned, and stepped in that direction, and off it went, a Northern Cricket Frog. I leaned in for a photo but it leapt into the creek and disappeared.
Just a few steps more, and I encountered another, this one resting at the base of large tree. This is a common species here and I find them down along the creek and in our yard in the vicinity of our two water gardens (although they often wander far from standing water). Their calls sound like clicking two pebbles or pennies together. They are excellent jumpers for their size, often leaping more than 3 feet to escape danger (or silk-covered giants).
They are small frogs, reaching a little over an inch in length. They can be identified by the backward-pointing triangle between the eyes (the color can be quite variable, but usually either brown or green). They often have a contrasting color, Y-shaped stripe, going from that triangle down the back (in this one it is a very faint cream color, but is often much more noticeable). This species is replaced by the Southern Cricket Frog as you move toward the coast.
When I got back home, I was watching the butterflies and hummingbirds feeding just outside the sun room window when I noticed a green lump on one of the Jewelweed stalks. It was one of my favorite frogs, a Green Treefrog. We are at the western range of this beautiful species, but we have had one every year for the past several years (I’ve never found more than one and never heard them call here). Online resources say this species can live up to 6 years in captivity, but that would surprise me if this is the same individual, year after year, but who knows.
One of the things I love about this species is their Buddha-like presence, as if they are serenely contemplating the world around them while maintaining a stoic position of deep reflection (have I been self-isolating too long?).
Plus, they are just a beautiful creature – the colors, those eyes, the enlarged toe-pads, all an incredible design that helps them blend into and function in their green world. After a few shots, the frog started to move, so I stepped away and let it return to its composed demeanor. Perhaps I can learn something about our current condition from these frogs…stay calm, or leap like crazy when it gets to be too much. Be like a frog…