My husband and I are addicted to nature, but especially to any amphibious creature. Frogs are our absolute passion and whenever we get the chance to search for them, photograph them or just sit in silence and listen to them, we do.
As you may well have heard, frogs are an excellent indicator of habitat health. Adult frogs eat large amounts of insects (imagine a world with no frogs!) and frogs are an important part in the food chain as a food source for birds, reptiles, fish and mammals. Tadpoles eat algae in rivers, ponds and lakes, which helps keeps the waterways clean.
We recently did just a one-night frog survey up at Bush Heritage's Scottsdale Reserve (during our holidays, slight detour) just before the huge rains arrived in December.
Our belief is that the most important part of any fauna survey, especially where frogs are concerned, is that you must adhere to the strictest hygiene conditions; we use veterinary grade disinfectant to clean our gumboots, camera equipment and even torches before we walk to each site to minimise the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which is thought to be responsible for the decline of frogs worldwide.
Scottsdale is a 1328ha reserve with several ponds and streams. So the plan was to visit as many areas as we could in an evening to see what we could find.
It was great in theory, but we really couldn't get past a large pond on the plateau. It’s a fenced area that keeps predators to a minimum and allows the vegetation to grow in and around the pond, which means there are some fabulous hiding places for frogs.
Surveying frogs is part of my husband’s job (and I’ve always tagged along) and we must say this was one of the loudest and most varied frog choruses either of us has heard in many years.
It was deafening and the ultimate stereo surround sound. Those frogs made their presence known.
There are currently 10 species of frog recorded at Scottsdale and we plan to go back in the Spring to do some more thorough searching and at more than one very distracting pond this time!
We believe there should be at least two or three more species there and as the habitat continues to be restored and protected from weeds, pollution, foxes and cats (frogs are unfortunately a very tasty entrée for feral carnivores), this can only mean a more positive and hoppier outlook for our amphibious friends!
Photos: Michael Williams.