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Archive for the ‘frog’ Category

Most of the time when I am lucky enough to spot 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.

Yesterday afternoon the rain finally stopped and the skies were gradually clearing, so I decided to go out with my camera. I spotted this tree frog when I was walking along one of the trails at Huntley Meadows Park, a nearby marshland park that I have avoided the last few years because it tends to be overcrowded. The frog was perched in the crotch of a small tree just off of the trail.

When I first saw the tree frog, it had its front feet tucked under its head and appeared to be dozing, as you can see in the first two photos. I experimented with slightly different angles and formats and can’t decide if I like the landscape format of the first photo or the portrait format of the second one.

Later in the day I passed the frog again and it seemed to be a little more alert. The frog had pulled one of its feet out from under its head and appeared to be daydreaming.

When I returned home from my outing, I decided to take a cue from the frog and took a short nap.

 

Green Tree Frog

Green Tree Frog

Green Tree Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Following the lead of fellow photographer Steve Gingold, I decided that today is a Frog Friday. I spotted these Eastern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans), one of the smallest frogs in Virginia, on Monday as I was exploring in Prince William County. I really like frogs and was happy to capture some of the cool details of these frogs in these shots, like their tiny toes.

Be sure to check out Steve’s blog posting for today entitled Frog Friday—before and after. While you are there, I encourage you to poke about on his site—Steve has an amazing array of nature photos that he has taken, primarily in the western part of Massachusetts.

Cricket Frog

Cricket Frog

Cricket Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was sunny and warm on Monday, so I went off in search of dragonflies. There has already been at least one sighting of a dragonfly this month in Virginia, but it realistically is still a bit early for any to appear in the northern part of the state where I live. I searched diligently at a pond and at several small streams in Prince William County, but did not find any dragonflies or damselflies.

I was happy, however, to spot several Eastern Cricket Frogs (Acris crepitans crepitans). These frogs are tiny, with a length of about 5/8 to 1-3/8 inches (16-35 mm). One of the most distinctive things about this species is the male mating call that resembles the sound of two stones being hit together or perhaps is similar to the sound of a cricket.

According to the Virginia Herpetological Society, “This species prefers grassy margins of ponds, ditches and wetlands. Permanent bodies of water with emergent or shoreline vegetation and exposure to the sun are preferred habitat,” a perfect description of the locations where I spotted these frogs.

Each year I am confused when researching this species, because I see references to Eastern Cricket Frogs and Northern Cricket Frogs used almost interchangeably. If I understand it correctly Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) is the species name and Eastern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans crepitans) is one of the subspecies.

As you can see from these images, cricket frogs blend in really well with their surroundings. If I had not seen these frogs jump to their new locations, I am pretty sure that I would not have seen them. I walked around all day with my 180mm macro lens attached to my camera and it served me well to capture some of the details on the bodies of the little frogs. I attempted to get as low as I could and to shoot from the side in order to get as much of the frog in focus as I could, so muddy knees were inevitably one of the “benefits” of getting these shots.

cricket frog

cricket frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Most of the time frogs hop away as soon as they sense my approaching footsteps. This male Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans), however, stayed in his sunny spot in the shallow waters at the edge of the pond, patiently posing for his portrait on Thursday. With a little encouragement, he even smiled a bit.

When I posted this photo on Facebook, one of my friends commented, “I’ve kissed a few of those.” Her words brought back memories of the role that I played in a theater production of The Frog Prince more than 35 years ago when I was in the military. A cast of adults put on several plays for children, which was a lot of fun, because over-the-top acting was encouraged to keep the kids in the audience engaged—I must admit that I am a bit of a ham when in the spotlight.

Wearing a mask, flippers, green tights, and a leotard, I played the role of the frog, agilely hopping about on the stage. When I was kissed and magically transformed into the handsome prince, a younger, cute blond actor continued in the role—there is only so much you can do with stage make-up.

Be bold today and go out and kiss a friendly frog or at least do something that takes you out of your normal comfort zone.

Green Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As temperatures rise, the springtime air is frequently filled with the sounds of frogs, ranging all the way from the high-pitched choruses of spring peepers to the solitary bass notes of croaking bullfrogs. When I walk along the edge of marshes and ponds at this time of the year, the ground in front of me often seems to explode as well-camouflaged frogs arc through the air seeking to escape me.

On Monday as I wandered about in Prince William Forest Park, I spotted quite a number of tiny frogs at the edge of the water, but did not hear them calling, so I had to rely on their physical appearance to identify them. On the basis of the dark triangle between their eyes and their other markings, I believe the frogs in the photos below are both Eastern Cricket frogs (Acris crepitans crepitans).

Eastern Cricket frogs are small frogs,  reaching lengths of 5/8 to 1-3/8 inches (16-35 mm), which make them a challenge to photograph. According to the Virginia Herpetological Society, part of the scientific name for the species is derived from the Latin word crepit which means “rattle” and the call of these frogs sounds like pebbles being clicked together. Perhaps they will be calling, the next time that I visit the park.

The evidence is mounting that spring is really here. What are your favorite signs of the arrival of spring?

Eastern Cricket Frog

Eastern Cricket Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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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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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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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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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