Frogs Galore at White Memorial!

Northern Spring Peeper photograped by

Ashley Hayes at White Memorial's Museum Area

Wood Frog photographed by Ashley Hayes

at White Memorial's Mott-Van Winkle Area

Green Frog photographed by Dave Rosgen

at White Memorial's Duck Pond

Bullfrog photographed by Dave Rosgen

at White Memorial's Duck Pond

Northern Leopard Frog photographed by

Dave Rosgen in White Memorial's Ongley Field

Frogs are thriving at White Memorial, thanks in part to the massive amounts of rain that have fallen here this year. In many years frogs and other amphibians that breed in vernal pools face a race against the clock to grow-up, metamorphose into their adult form, and exit the pool before it dries up. Not this year! Ample amounts of rain kept water in vernal pools and other wetlands long enough for these animals to go through this process with time to spare. Even though there wasn't much rainfall in July, our wetlands retained a decent amount of water. Frogs, and especially juvenile ones, have found that the upper reaches of floodwaters are an ideal place to hang out, wait for invertebrate animal food to come close enough to be caught, and escape into the safety of the water if predators come after them. On several occasions since Tropical Storm Irene passed through this area I've gone out to look for amphibians, storm-blown birds, and other creatures. That includes trying to get reasonably accurate counts of frogs. I found that walking the upper reaches of the floodwaters was the ideal place to find these animals, whether it was in woods, fields, or wetlands. Frogs were in all of these places. On Tuesday, 8/30/11, I went around our Lake, Windmill Hill, Ongley Pond, and Mill Field Trails, following the border of the floodwaters. I counted a total of 225 Green Frogs, 16 Northern Leopard Frogs, 10 Wood Frogs, 10 Northern Spring Peepers, 2 Gray Treefrogs, 1 Pickerel Frog, and 1 American Toad. Surprisingly, I didn't see any Bullfrogs. I also saw a 3/4" wide Eastern Garter Snake attempting to swallow a 2" wide Green Frog, a fair-sized Northern Water Snake heading towards a group of Green Frogs, and 10 Painted Turtles foraging in the shallow water. Three Belted Kingfishers at the intersection of Lake and Windmill Hill Trails were undoubtedly looking for easy pickings in the shallow water. They will eat frogs just as readily as they'll eat fish. However, I also saw small fish in the water, so the kingfishers may have been after these, too. On Friday, 9/2/11, I checked the Mill Field and Interpretive Trails and counted 43 Green Frogs, 6 Bullfrogs, 5 Northern Leopard Frogs, and 2 Pickerel Frogs. Some of these were caught by student volunteer Nicole Morin and swabbed for Chytrid fungus as part of another one of our on-going research projects. The following day, student volunteer Marcus Johansson helped me lead a walk for 16 members of the public with the focus being on amphibians and reptiles. We visited Ongley Field and Pond and the Mill Field and Interpretive Trails, checking all of the flooded areas. We counted 150 Green Frogs, 12 Northern Leopard Frogs, 5 Northern Spring Peepers, 3 Wood Frogs, 3 Bullfrogs, 2 Pickerel Frogs, and 1 American Toad. Marcus caught 3 of them for swabbing. This was very educational for the attendees. A quick check of Pine Grove 2 after our latest flooding event today (at least 4" of rain fell yesterday and last night) revealed 75 Green Frogs around pools of water.

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