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Archive for the ‘Amphibians’ Category

Whenever I see a Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea), the frog appears to be sleeping. Why is that the case? Many frogs spend their time in the water and have an easy way to regulate their body temperatures. Tree Frogs probably need to avoid direct sunlight and I suspect they are more active earlier and later during the day.

I photographed these beautiful tree frogs on consecutive days last week during trips to different parts of Huntley Meadows Park. I love the simplified V-shaped tree crotch that makes a photogenic perch for the frog in the first photo. I am sure that I am imagining things, but the frog appears to be pensive or possibly daydreaming.

The previous day I was on the boardwalk with my friend Walter Sanford on the boardwalk when a passing woman with two young children, Dante and Aria, asked us if we wanted to see a tree frog. It had been a slow day for us photographically, so of course we said yes. The kids were really excited to talk with us and to show us their find.

Walter asked them to come up with a name for the frog and Aria chose the name “Sleepy.” Unlike the frog in the first photo that seemed semi-alert, the second frog seemed to be sound asleep, so the name certainly fit. Check out Walter’s posting on the encounter in his recent blog posting called “Sleepy” for more info and another photo of the sleeping tree frog.

 

Green Tree Frog

Green Tree Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was very excited last Thursday when a passing photographer pointed out this little tree frog to me last Thursday as I was walking along a trail at Huntley Meadows Park. I think that it is a Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor), through there is a chance that it could be a Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis). According to the Virginia Herpetologcal Society, “Our two native gray treefrogs are identical in appearance. In the field the only two ways to distinguish H. chrysoscelis from H. versicolor is by their call and in some cases geographic location.”

The green and gray pattern on its body looks unusual to me and makes it look like the frog has lichen on its back. The Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute website notes that, “The gray tree frog’s scientific name is Hyla versicolor, which comes from the Latin for “variable color.” It is named for its ability to alter its skin color based on the time of day and surrounding temperature. The skin becomes much lighter at night and darker during the day.”

I was starting to feel a little cold as I was observing the tree frog and wondered what would happen to it in the winter. I was shocked to discover that Gray Tree Frogs hibernate during the cold weather. The Smithsonian website mentioned above states that, “The gray tree frog hibernates in the winter by taking refuge in trees. It survives freezing temperatures by producing glycerol to “freeze” itself while maintaining interior metabolic processes at a very slow rate.” Wow!

 

Gray Tree Frog

Gray Tree Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How sticky are the toe pads of a tree frog? This Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea) had no problems clinging to the painted surface of a sign when I spotted it last Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Was it technically in violation of the access policy?

Green Tree Frog

Green Tree Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last Tuesday I spotted this cute little toad—I think it may be a Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)—while exploring the wilds of Fairfax County. The toad was just chilling (or more accurately may have been warming itself) on a rock ledge with a bumpy texture and mottled coloration that matched those of the toad pretty well.

It is hard to know what the frog was thinking, but it appeared to be in deep contemplation. “I think, therefore I am.”

Fowler's Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The frog in the photo does have a few spots, but the spots on the leaves are what really draw my attention to this image—they provide an almost visually perfect background for the main subject. I spotted this little frog earlier this week while hunting for dragonflies in Prince William County, Virginia.

I believe that this is an Eastern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans crepitans), but was a little confused when I saw repeated references to a Northern Cricket Frog.  I think I finally sorted it out in my mind and if I understand it correctly the Eastern Cricket Frog is one of the subspecies of the Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans). Logically it seems odd that east would be a subset of north, but that seems to be the case here.

Eastern Cricket Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I captured this shot of an Eastern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) while exploring a seepy area in Prince William County, Virginia. The frog was tiny, only an inch or so (25 mm) in length. I was thankful for the green markings or I might otherwise have missed seeing the frog. The markings look very much like an arrow point towards the frog’s head. They also gave me something on which to focus since the rest of the frog’s body was pretty well camouflaged.

Eastern Cricket Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Frogs have begun to sing their springtime songs. Although they are loud, most of the frogs are small and well-hidden. I was happy to spot this tiny one, which I believe is an Eastern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans), last Wednesday at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia.

According to the Virginia Herpetological website, the Eastern Cricket Frog, which some other sources call the Northern Cricket Frog, is 5/8 to 1-3/8 inches  in length (16-35 mm). I am pretty certain that I would not have been able to spot the little frog if it had not jumped into the air and landed at a spot that I could see. Even then, I had trouble finding it in the viewfinder of my extended telephoto lens.

The referenced website notes that the male mating call resembles the sound of two stones being hit together and a single call usually lasts through 20-30 beats. Is it music? You will have to answer that question for yourself, but I suspect that the call is music to the ears of lady frogs.

Eastern Cricket Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At the end of each year I am faced with a decision about whether to do a review of the year and/or select my favorite photos. Some years I have done a selection based on the number of views received; some years I have chosen my personal favorites; and some years I have opted to do no yearly retrospective whatsoever.

This year I went through my postings month by month and selected two photos for each month. Rather than give an explanation for each selection, I have provided links to the postings themselves to make it easier for interested readers to see the images in the context of the original postings that often include additional photos and explanatory information.

This has been a rewarding year for me in so many ways and I have had a lot of wonderful experiences capturing images. Thanks so much to all of you for your support and encouragement. Stay tuned for part two, which should appear in the next few days.

 

Northern Cardinal

January 16, 2019 Cardinal in the snow (https://michaelqpowell.com/2019/01/16/cardinal-in-the-snow-3/

 

winter sunrise

February 4, 2019 Reflected sunrise colors (https://michaelqpowell.com/2019/02/04/reflected-sunrise-colors/)

 

mountains in Germany

February 22, 2019 Mountain views in Germany (https://michaelqpowell.com/2019/02/22/mountain-views-in-germany/)

 

 

Northern Mockingbird

March 30, 2019 Mockingbird seeking seeds (https://michaelqpowell.com/2019/03/30/mockingbird-seeking-seeds/)

 

 

Uhler's Sundragon

April 12, 2019 Uhler’s Sundragon dragonfly (https://michaelqpowell.com/2019/04/12/uhlers-sundragon-dragonfly/)

 

 

 

 

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

June 24, 2019 Hummingbird Moth (the posting was on 2 July, but the photo was taken on June 24) (https://michaelqpowell.com/2019/07/02/hummingbird-moth/)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When you truly love someone, you love them warts and all (and as the second image shows, American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) have lots of warts). I spotted these amorous amphibians earlier this week at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia.

American Toads

American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Can you actually see a sound? Yesterday while I was exploring Prince William Forest Park, I heard a whole lot of croaking. Eventually I spotted one really loud male toad with an inflated vocal sac, which was pretty cool. What were even cooler were the concentric ripples in the water generated by the toad’s croaking.

The second image shows the toad resting in between performances, whose main purpose is to attract mates. His song did not appear to have had any immediate benefits, although I was certainly impressed.

UPDATE: I initially identified this as a frog, but fellow blogger and wildlife enthusiast Walter Sanford pointed out to me that this is probably an American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus).

frog

frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Last night I was playing again with watercolors and found inspiration in some videos about Chinese sumi-e brush painting, particularly one by Daleflix on YouTube that showed him painting a dragonfly and a frog. I really like the way that sumi-e painting, which is often done in ink on rice paper, emphasizes the importance of each brush stroke.

My painting skills still need a lot of work, but I especially like how the dragonfly turned out. There is a kind of minimalism in the dragonfly that appeals to me. It was really all-or-nothing when I painted it. Each of the wings, for example, was a single brush stroke, with a little bit of outlining done later. Similarly, the segmented body was done in a single pass.

I kind of got a little lost after I had painted the frog and the dragonfly and tried to add some contextual elements. The water ended up way too dark and some of the branches got too thick. In case you are curious, the painting is 4 x 6 inches in size (10 x 15 cm), so the brush strokes were pretty small.

Still, I like the overall feel of this little painting, which represents a new step for me as I explore watercolors. I think that I may explore this style of painting some more.

dragonfly and frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you think about your photographic subjects one at a time? That’s the way that I tend to operate. One of my blogging friends, though, likes to organize photos of others around themes that transcend the boundaries of individual species. In this posting, Liz of Exploring Colour focused on the theme of Predators and Prey with photos that capture this reality of nature without becoming gruesome. Be sure to check out her other wonderful postings too that include her own photos as well of those of some other awesome photographers.

Exploring Colour

The reality of the natural world is that some creatures eat other creatures to survive. Nature photographers spend a lot of time outside and sometimes capture dramatic moments in the struggle for survival. Their photos and stories may shock us but we can learn so much from these encounters – animals seem capable of much more planning, strategy and applied knowledge than what most of us humans ever give them credit for.


** Click on any photo to view large-size version **

Note: Each photographer’s website/blog is listed at the bottom of this blog-post.


snake2_fish_blog

Mike Powell | Snake catches catfish | 20 July, 2017

  • Story plus 5 Photos showing the snake in various positions holding his catch, all the time in the water, until all of a sudden the snake somehow ingests the large fish and the last photo shows the snake with only the fish tail sticking out of…

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I will be heading home soon after my brief stay in Vienna, Austria and thought I would post a few last wildlife photos that I took here. These images help reinforce to me the notion that there is always something interesting in nature to photograph, no matter where I happen to be.

The first image is an unidentified species of frog that I encountered at the edge of a pond while wandering about the Donau-Auen National Park. It reminds me of the Southern Leopard Frog that I often see at home in Northern Virginia.

frog in VIenna

The second image appears to be a Viennese Banded Snail (Cepaea vindobonensis) that I also spotted in the National Park.  I thought that it was really cool the way that it had attached itself to the vegetation.

Viennese Banded Snail

The final image shows what I believe to be a Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) that I saw at the Stadtpark (“city park”) not far from the hotel where I am staying. I always find swans to be beautiful and graceful, even when located in an urban environment.

swan in Vienna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The bright blue color of a juvenile skink’s tail is so startling and whimsical that I never fail to smile whenever I see one. When I first spotted this Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus), it was basking in the sun on top of a concrete fishing platform at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. As I approach, it scurried under the platform and I stopped and waited. Eventually the skink poked its head out and cautiously crawled forward and I was able to capture this image.

Generally I prefer a more natural backdrop for my shots of insects and amphibians, but in this case I really like the varied colors and textures of the man-made materials. I also like the angular lines that contrast nicely with the curves of the skink’s body. Finally the neutral colors of the image help to draw the viewer’s eyes to the beautiful blue tail.

juvenile skink

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was walking along the Potomac River one day last month, I came upon this large toad, which I think might be a Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri). I was really struck by the way that the light and shadows helped to emphasize the very bumpy texture of the toad’s skin.

Fowler's Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I walked along a trail paralleling the Potomac River one morning last week, I noticed some movement near the water’s edge. Moving closer, I spotted some tiny frogs—they seemed to be only about an inch or so in size (25 mm). Many of them hopped away as I continued my approach, but one of them jumped onto a rock and posed for me.

I was able to capture a lot of details of this frog, but am having trouble identifying its species. I have a lot more experience identifying birds and insects—I am not a frogman. Despite my ineptitude at identification, I really like the photo and the way that the background seems to mirror the colors, patterns, and texture of this tiny frog.

frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have always been fascinated with frogs. As a child, I remember my amazement at seeing photos of colorful tropical frogs in National Geographic, especially the green tree frogs with big red eyes.  Growing older, I loved Kermit the Frog, especially his quirky sense of humor and his propensity for bursting out in song. Even now, one of my all-time favorite movie scenes is from the beginning of The Muppet Movie, where the view begins high above the trees and gradually zooms in on Kermit, who is sitting on a log playing the banjo and singing The Rainbow Connection. I try to hold on to the innocent, wide-eyed optimism of that song.

As a photographer, I have list of aspirational shots, made up of images, subjects, and situations that I would love to photograph. For a long time, I longed to capture a photo of a frog perched on a lily pad. After numerous unsuccessful attempts, I managed to capture such an image a couple of years ago. Despite that “success” I still keep my eyes open for frogs whenever I am in an area with lily pads.

This past weekend I hit the jackpot when I spotted three frogs on a single lily pad. I was exploring a small lake at Ben Brennan Park, a small suburban park in Alexandria, Virginia with a variety of recreational facilities. There is a small elevated bridge over one section of the lake and it was from this vantage point that I was able to capture this image. Initially the three frogs were all facing outwards, looking like they were defending their pad from outside intruders. Just before I took this shot, however, the frog in the back turned toward the middle and looked like he was trying to sneak up on his buddy.

Perhaps he simply wanted to play a game of leapfrog.

leapfrog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The high-pitched calls of the Spring Peeper frog (Pseudacris crucifer) are one of the harbingers of spring for many of us, but have you ever actually seen one of these diminutive songsters? Even when there was a loud chorus of Spring Peepers, these tiny frogs seemed to be invisible.

Last Friday, while hunting for dragonflies at Huntley Meadows Park with my friend and fellow photographer Walter Sanford, we almost literally stumbled upon a Spring Peeper near the edge of the water. As we were photographing one peeper, another jumped into view. The thing that struck me most about the spring peepers was how small they are, a bit over one inch and certainly less than two inches in length (about 3-5 cm). The other thing that I noticed was how low they were to the ground—it was tough getting a good viewing angle even when my elbows and knees were submerged in the marshy soil.

Here are three of my favorite shots of the Spring Peepers in a couple of different settings. You can’t help but notice how well the frog blends in with its surroundings, which helps explain why I had never been able to spot one previously. My one regret is that we never heard a peep from the frogs. Perhaps next time I will be able to get a shot of a Spring Peeper with its vocal sac inflated.

Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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With a mixture of horror and fascination, I watched as a large black snake slowly ingested a Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) that it had caught on Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. The frog was struggling and crying out loudly and then suddenly it was free. The lucky frog hopped away and the snake could only tell its friends about the one that got away.

When I first spotted the snake, it was holding the frog in the air. It appeared to have grabbed the frog by one of its back legs and was trying to adjust the frog so that it could swallow it. Unlike a Great Blue Heron that swallows its prey in a single gulp, the snake has to pull its prey in slowly. Little by little the snake seemed to get more of the frog’s leg in its mouth.

The frog continued to struggle, seeking to get some leverage so that it could pull its way out of the snake’s death grip. I didn’t see exactly how it happened, but all of the sudden the frog was free. It almost looked like that snake had released the frog, though that just seems so unlikely to have happened. Whatever the case, the frog was extremely fortunate—all of the previous encounters that I have observed between snakes and frogs have ended with the frog inside of the snake.

I was shooting with my macro lens, so I couldn’t zoom in closer, but I did manage to capture a sequence of shots that show some of the action.

release2_15Apr_blog

release3_15Apr_blog

release1_15Apr_blog

release5_blog_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Now that spring is here, you can see and hear frogs throughout Huntley Meadows Park. One of the most common types in our area is the Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus), like this one that I spotted this past weekend.

Southern Leopard Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The single American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) inched closer and closer to the couple, looking like he wanted to cut in. Growing impatent, he decided that the only way to dislodge his rival was to take action.  With a big splash, he jumped right onto the other male’s back.

Was the maneuver successful? Well, I think he separated the couple, but I couldn’t tell which of the males ended up with the female.

American Toad

American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As I was preparing to leave work yesterday, one of my co-workers reminded me to wear something green today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Some people go a little crazy on this day, drinking green beer and consuming food that has been dyed to an unnaturally bright shade of green.

To celebrate the day, I thought I’d reprise a few photos of some of my favorite green creatures, including the Common Green Darner (Anax junius), the Green Heron (Butorides virescens), a green metallic bee, and little green frogs. If you are viewing the images in the blog itself (and not the Reader), click on any one of the photos to see a larger image in slide-show mode.

For those of you also celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, be safe and have fun.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I usually think of seeing toads on dry land, but when it’s breeding time, they head to shallow pools of water. These Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) were swimming around this past Friday at Huntley Meadows Park in Northern Virginia.

Some of the toads were graceful swimmers, effortlessly skimming across the water. Others, however, seemed to have problems coordinating the actions of their limbs and floundered and splashed around a lot. The toads seemed to use a variety of strokes, though almost all of them used a variant of the frog kick with their rear legs.

How did the frogs get the naming rights for the kick? It could just as easily have been the “toad kick.” Perhaps marketing is a bit more difficult when you have as many warts as the average toad.

Eastern American Toad

Eastern American Toad

Eastern American Toad

Eastern American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The marsh at Huntley Meadows Park is alive with the sound of frogs and toads—it’s the start of the breeding season.

Yesterday, I captured this shot of an Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) as he was calling out to females. It’s amazing how long the toad is able to hold that long, high-pitched trill, as much as 20 to 30 seconds according to the Virginia Herpetological Society.

His expanded pouch (officially called a dewlap) reminds me of my childhood days, when I would attempt to blow large bubbles with the ever present bright pink bubble gum. One of my favorite gums was called Bazooka and the individually wrapped pieces of gum included a comic strip starring Bazooka Joe. (For more information about Bazooka, check out this Wikipedia article.)

I’ve decided I want to call this little guy Bazooka Joe and my unofficial name for the Eastern American Toad is the Bubble Gum Toad. As a side note, fellow photographer and blogger Walter Sanford has given nicknames to several of my lenses and he calls my Tamron 150-600mm lens Bazooka Joe. This, of course, is more a reference to the anti-tank rocket launcher than to the bubble gum—the size and length of the lens brings to mind a bazooka. (If you are not familiar with this weapon, check out this Wikipedia article.)

In case you are curious, I captured this image of Bazooka Joe with Bazooka Joe.

Eastern American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How is it possible to sneak up on a frog and grab it with such force that it is unable to escape as you slowly swallow it headfirst while it is still alive? With a mixture of horror and fascination, I witnessed part of the process yesterday when I spotted an Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) that had captured a Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor).

I was walking through the vegetation at the edge of a field when I spotted a part of the body of the ribbon snake. I moved closer as my eyes traced the body of the snake as I searched for its head. When I spotted the head from a distance, I was confused—it was enlarged like that of a hooded cobra and it was swaying back and forth. What was going on?

I slowed down and gradually came to realize that the snake had a struggling frog in its mouth and was holding it in the air so that the flailing legs had nothing to grab onto for leverage. The frog seemed so much bigger than the snake’s head that it seemed almost impossible that the snake could swallow it.

The snake slithered a short distance away with its partially swallowed prey and continued the process. I managed to get a glimpse of the astonishing extent to which the snake can open its mouth before the disappeared disappeared under a pile of wood to enjoy its meal in peace.

Initially I couldn’t identify the frog, but my good friend Walter Sanford made an initial identification and pointed me to the website of the Virginia Herpetological Society. I carefully read the information there and have concluded that the frog is probably a Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor), although it is possible it could be a Cope’s Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis). “Our two native gray treefrogs are identical in appearance. In the field the only two ways to distinguish H. chrysoscelis from H. versicolor is by their call and in some cases geographic location.”

I was particularly struck by the bright orange color on the hind legs of the frog. Wikepedia notes that both of the potential species have bright-yellow patches on their hind legs, which distinguishes them from other tree frogs and that “the bright patches are normally only visible while the frog is jumping.” Obviously the situation I witnessed is not “normal,” so I was able to see the colors, even though the frog was obviously not jumping.

I’ve included a small series of shots to give you a sense of the situation. They were all shot handheld with my Tamron 180mm macro lens.

Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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WARNING: This encounter did not turn out well for the frog. This past Saturday I spotted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in the shallow water at the edge of a beaver pond at my favorite marshland. I watched and waited, knowing full well that a heron’s patience when fishing generally exceeds my own.

Suddenly the heron thrust its bill into the water with such force that it had to extend its wings for stability. Surely, I thought, the heron had just caught a massive fish.  When I caught a glimpse of the catch, however, I realized that it was not a fish—it was a frog. The heron’s grip on the frog looked to be a little problematic, for the heron had snagged the frog by its legs.

Now I realize that in some cultures, frog legs are considered to be a delicacy, but I was pretty confident that the heron was not going to settle for just the legs. The challenge for the heron was to reposition the frog without losing it. One added complication was that the frog appeared to be struggling, trying desperately to extricate itself from the heron’s tight grip.

Moving to the edge of the pond, the heron bent down and pinned the frog against the ground as it grasped the frog around its upper torso. Only then did the heron return to its original upright position, knowing that the frog’s fate was now sealed. With small movements of its head, the heron slowly repositioned the frog until it was in a heads-first position.

All of the sudden, the heron tilted its head back  and swallowed and the frog was gone so quickly that I was unable to capture its last moment.

Apparently the frog was just an appetizer, for I saw the heron catch a fish a short time later, but that may be the subject of a future post.

Great Blue Heron

The initial strike

Great Blue Heron

Hanging by the legs

Great Blue Heron

Grabbing the torso

Great Blue Heron

The beginning of the end

Great Blue Heron

Almost in position

Great Blue Heron

Ready for a big gulp

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of the frogs that I have seen in the last few months have been hopping away or diving into the water as I walked along small streams in search of dragonflies. Last weekend, though, I happened to notice a frog in the shallow water of a small pool in the woods of my favorite marshland park.

The light was nice and the frog was only partially submerged, so I moved closer to the frog to take some shots.  I could tell was a Southern Leopard frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus), a pretty common frog where I live. I really like the distinctive spots that are responsible for its name.

Standing relatively upright, I was able to get a good shot of the frog’s entire body. I was happy with the shot, but not fully satisfied, so I decided to try for a lower shot. Sometimes I will lie on my stomach with my elbows propped on the ground for this kind of shot, but the ground was wet and muddy, so I settled for a low crouch. I was hoping to get as close to eye level with the frog as I could.

When you look at the two photos, you can notice some interesting differences caused by the change of perspective. The frog appears much flatter in the second shot and some interesting reflections of the eyes have now appeared, which might have been caused more by a change in sunlight than by the change of position. Somehow I feel a little bit more immersed in the frog’s world in the second shot.

I’m not sure I’d be able to judge which of the two shots is better—I like aspects of each one. More importantly, I reminded myself of the important of varying my perspective, of changing angles and distances when working with a subject.

You can learn a lot by getting down with a frog.

Southern Leopard frog

Souothern Leopard frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When you are face-to-face with this toad, you might notice that he has a few skin issues, but when you see him from the side, you realize that he has a serious problem that anti-acne cream surely will not cure.

I don’t often see toads at my local marshland park, so I couldn’t help but move in for a closer look when I spotted this one last weekend. At the park, we have both Fowler’s toads (Anaxyrus fowleri) and Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) and I have trouble telling them apart. To make matters worse, according to the Virginia Herpetological Society, these species hybridize, “making identification difficult.”

I was pretty amazed when I looked at my shots to see all of the different textures and patterns on the toad’s body body. There are warts and weaves and different kinds of stripes. I’m happy too that I was able to capture the toad’s toes, which most often are hidden.

toad

toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Perched at the edge of a lily pad, this frog at Lilypons Water Gardens was so small that I doubt I would have seen it by myself. However, one of my sharp-eyed fellow photographers spotted it and served as the hand model for the shot with the penny.

A helpful Facebook reader suggested that this is probably a Northern Cricket frog (Acris crepitans) and it certainly does look like the photos that I can find on the internet. Judging from the size of the penny, which is 3/4 of an inch in diameter (19 mm), I’d guess that the frog was less than 3/8 of an inch (9.5 mm) in size.

My fellow photographer tried to move the penny slowly into position, but, as I suspected would happen, the frog jumped away shortly after the second shot below. I would have liked to capture the frog in motion, but ended up instead with a shot of the vacant lily pad—the frog had jumped right out of the frame.

Northern Cricket frog

tiny2_frog_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When a friend pointed toward a small pond and said he saw a bronze frog, I thought he was talking about a metal figurine. I had never even heard of bronze frogs and certainly had not seen one before.

Bronze Frogs (Rana clamitans clamitans) are a subspecies of the Green Frog (Rana clamitans) and I must confess that I really can’t tell them apart from the other subspecies, the Northern Green Frog (Rana clamitans melanota), because there is a significant amount of color variation.

Identification aside, I really like the way that this frog is surrounded by and partially covered with duckweed as he tries to stay cool on a hot day in July.

bronze frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Safe inside the confines of an enormous lily pad, this little frog calmly watched the crowds of people last weekend in Washington D.C. at the Lotus and Water Lily Festival at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.

frog on a lily pad

You can’t help but noticed that this is not your average lily pad. I believe that it is a tropical variety that comes from the Amazon River basin of the genus Victoria, possibly Amazonica victoria. According to Wikipedia, the leaves of this species can grow as large as 10 feet in diameter (3 meters), although this one was probably less than three feet (one meter) in size. Clearly it had no problem supporting the weight of the little frog.

Readers who follow my photography know that I love to try to get in close to my subjects, irrespective of whether I am shooting with a telephoto lens or a macro lens, and this was no exception. There was a waist-high wire fence around the cement pond in which the water lilies were growing, so I had some limitations in framing my shots, but did manage to get this shot of the frog looking over the edge of lily pad.

frog on a lily pad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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