Night 2 - Frog Blog

...we all know frogs go la di da di da.

Friday, 30th November 2018

Of all the amazing groups on Bush Blitz, I was determined to accompany the frog group at some point, and tonight that wish was granted! My adventure began around 8pm, when frog biologist Dr Renee Catullo from ANU (Australian National University) took Cass, Jane and myself to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. On the drive from Birrigai, Renee told us about chytrid fungus and how devastating its introduction has been to Australia’s frog populations.

When we arrived at Tidbinbilla, we sterilised our boots, so we didn’t spread chytrid fungus in this area. It was just on dark and already we could hear the frogs calling. Renee showed us the Frog ID app and how we can use it to identify frogs!

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Heading off at dusk.

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Demonstration of the Frog ID app.

Our first stop was a large pond, where a platypus was spotted on arrival! We turned off our lights and listened to the calls, trying to locate the different frogs based on their calls and where the sound seemed to be coming from.

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Our first frogging location.

 

Then… bam! We caught one! Well, Renee did. It was a male Peron’s Tree Frog (Litoria peronii). We could also hear an Eastern Common Froglet (Crinia signifera) calling very close to where we were standing, but just could not visually locate it! Renee made the appropriate records for our newly caught specimen, including the ground temperature and GPS coordinates, then we were on our way to Namadgi National Park.

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Litoria peronii in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

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Recording the necessary information about the specimen.

 

We visited a number of sites in Namadgi where frog calls could be heard. One of these sites, where the frog calls were loud and diverse, was a bog just down from the road. And by down, I mean down a steep slippery slope. My descent was fast as the ‘stick’ I used to maintain my balance snapped and I was sent straight to the bottom – do not pass GO, do not collect $200. As we explored the bog, my trekking misfortune/entertainment wasn’t over as I managed to put my foot through a rotten log, and discover a very spiky bush – using feeling only! Unfortunately, that’s all I discovered as the frogs seemed to go silent as we approached.

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Looking for frogs in Namadgi National Park.

 

It was past midnight, but the adventure wasn’t over yet! We had one more stop – the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. They’re closed at night time, but Bush Blitz had made a prior arrangement for our access, and as such, we had a key!

The first frog we found was well-camouflaged in some vegetation beside a pond. It was another Litoria peronii, so we took some photos and left him be. As we tried to locate a frog calling from a small fountain, we met a very confused security guard. He told us we were the first people he had ever encountered on patrol in the gardens. I’m guessing that he hadn’t expected to find four women with head torches looking for frogs in a fountain! We didn’t locate that frog in the end.

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Searching in the botanic gardens.

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Litoria peronii in the botanic gardens.

But… we did find an Eastern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii) also known as a Pobblebonk! They make the cutest sound! Renee attempted to catch him, but he was too fast and disappeared to the bottom of a pond! Then, about 10 metres from that pond, we located another Pobblebonk, just hanging in the garden. He was a very good sport and posed for a lot of photos. Front-on, he looked like he was smiling! Renee noticed something sticking out of his side and proceeded to pull out a stick about 4cm long! He must have felt so much better because he suddenly became way more active. After a few more photos, he happily hopped away and our work for the night was done.

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Renee eyeing off the first Pobblebonk.

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Pobblebonk! (Limnodynastes dumerilii - Eastern banjo frog)

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Beautiful colours! (Limnodynastes dumerilii)

 

I crawled into bed around 2.30am – exhausted, but very content! I had no idea there were so many different frogs and that they could be identified by their calls. These are the frogs we heard over the course of the night:

  • Crinia signifera (Eastern common froglet)
  • Crinia parinsignifera (Eastern sign-bearing froglet)
  • Limnodynastes peronii (Striped marsh frog)
  • Limnodynastes tasmaniensis (Spotted marsh frog)
  • Limnodynastes dumerilii (Eastern banjo frog)
  • Litoria peronii (Peron’s tree frog)
  • Litoria verreauxii (Whistling tree frog)
  • Uperoleia laevigata (Smooth toadlet)

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Happy frog! (Limnodynastes dumerilii)