Sunday, August 19, 2012

Backyard Biodiversity: Amphibians and Reptiles

Grey Tree Frog
When we moved in 5 years ago, one of the first things I did was explore the creek.  There were no frogs at all.  I was sad, because I spent many happy hours as a kid tromping through swamps catching frogs, and I wanted to do the same when baby Mars was bigger.  I'm guessing pesticide was a factor, the beautiful weedless manicured lawn is now an overgrown dandelion farm.  Lawn care is another story.  In the last two summers, we've noticed an abundance of frogs and toads in the creek and in the lawn.
Grey Tree Frog

Grey Tree Frog: A first for me, not sure I've ever seen one in the wild before.  We had launched the new boat, went to pick up Odin's life jacket that had been hung over the deck railing to dry, this little guy was hiding underneath.  Scooped him up to put him down out of the sun and he hopped onto my wrist and stuck.  Hopped a couple more times sticking to my jacket and ended up near my shoulder.  Awesome.

Leopard Frog: One of the first frogs to reappear, I noticed in the yard, hopping away from the lawnmower.

Green Frog:  The first comeback in noticeable numbers.  A careful exploration of the creek will see half a dozen green frogs, usually when they hop into the water to escape.  There are probably more than a dozen; some on creek banks, most in swampy areas that flood each spring and then alternate between muck and underwater depending on the water level during the summer. There were zero in the first 3 years, maybe a couple last year.

Green Frog
Baby Snapping Turtle
American Toad:  Irregularly seen, but around.  Found one of the teeny tiny baby ones on the driveway the other day.

Snapping Turtle: A medium sized one (50cm) has lived near/under our dock for a number of years.  Today (Aug 19th/2012) I came very close to being bitten by a baby snapping turtle.  We were looking for frogs and I saw eyes poking out of the muck, and I was about to do my patented frog grab on his head...  then I thought the eyes looked odd and the snout was quite long. This was the best photo I managed.  About 10cm long.

Painted Turtle:  One used to sit on a stump near the dock to sun himself, but I think he got tired of escaping every time the boys came near.  These were just up river from the dock where the bank is too steep for kids. 

Garter Snake:  One infrequently seen near the steps out front, where I've almost stepped on in a couple of times.  I think it made a home in the rock garden.  I unfortunately clipped one once with the ride-on mower.  Yet another good reason not to mow the lawn. 

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