03 December, 2011

Hop to it!

Whilst the recent rains have been good for our gardens, they have not been entirely beneficial for the river and its inhabitants as I mentioned in my last post. There is one group of river-dwellers however, for whom the deluge has been a boon. These are the frogs which live in and beside the Barwon. In the days following all the rain, I was at Jerringot Wetlands and the first thing I noticed was the almost deafening increase in the frog noise.
Spotted Marsh Frog Spawn at Jerringot Wetlands near
Barwon Valley Golf Course
They seemed to be everywhere, which is great news for the Barwon and surrounding wetlands but perhaps just a little surprising given the amount of pollution I found in some places. As everyone knows, frog populations are very sensitive to the presence of pollutants in their habitats, but these little guys were croaking away regardless.
In fact, not only were they making a racket, they were also leaping into their breeding cycle with alacrity. When I looked closely in amongst the reeds and rushes at the edge of the Barwon Valley Golf Course, it seemed riddled with frog spawn. The conveniently placed information board next to the path informed me that as far as frogs went at Jerringot, I had four species to choose from. They were the Common Eastern Froglet, the Growling Grass Frog (Warty Bell Frog), the Ewing's Tree Frog (Southern Brown Tree Frog) and the Spotted Marsh Frog.
Spotted Marsh Frog spawn in drain leading from
Gravel Pits Road to the Barwon River
I was soon able to identify the frogs eggs I was seeing as belonging to the Spotted Marsh Frog, both from their appearance and the calls I was hearing in the vicinity. The sign also informed me that this frog has a call like two stones being knocked together which is a very apt description indeed.
Great! So I could see the eggs and hear the frogs...but finding a specimen was another matter entirely. Between the murky water and overly long grass, it seemed that I didn't have a hope. And up to the present point, that continues to be the case.
It is now a week since we had all the rain. The ephemeral water supplies are gradually receding, leaving some of the eggs high and dry and the frog noise, whilst still there is noticeably reduced.
Of course, the tiger snake who appeared beside me in the grass at Jerringot today was probably fairly keen to reduce the frog noise himself - frogs being their dietary staple. Hmmm...pity I didn't read that bit on the website about tiger snakes often being found close to frog habitats before I went looking for frogs!
So, for now, the quest to photograph some of the Barwon's hoppers continues...

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