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Posts Tagged ‘frog’

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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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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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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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 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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