My plan for this site has been to publish at least once a week, but last week Wednesday I had a procedure that required the use of lidocaine and epinephrine for numbing. We’ve since discovered that I react very poorly to epinephrine–it gave me the worst migraine I’ve ever had, and I’ve had consistent migraine issues since–so I am a bit behind.
Tuesday, during my internship, the homeschool students were taken out to look for aquatic life in the pond and marsh. We did pond dipping, so we got to see the larvae of various insects, as well as tadpoles and crayfish. As we made our way through Edna Taylor Conservancy Park, we heard and saw Eastern American Toads in the wetlands. As I said before, it’s a good day when I see frogs or turtles.
When I attended the Wisconsin Summit for Natural Resources Volunteers back in March, we learned mneumonic devices to help us remember frog calls. The Eastern American Toad’s call was described as a “melodic, musical trill,” which I personally wouldn’t have associated with a toad. I think the high-pitched, long-lasting (up to 30 seconds) call is rather pretty, and I guess I wouldn’t generally associate it with something so many consider to be gross and ugly. Nature has a way of surprising us like that. The Eastern American Toad is the only toad we have in Wisconsin, and it lives in forests, grasslands, and residential areas, but requires water for breeding. The toads I encountered on Tuesday were in their breeding habitats, although throughout my life I have most often seen them hopping around in yards. It’s a myth that handling toads will give you warts, but they do produce a toxin that can be mildly irritating to human skin, and they will pee on you! I was never bothered much by that, though, and I regularly picked them up.
Excited by the toad discovery, I decided to go out to Astico after my internship to see what species I could find. It had been a couple of weeks since my last visit, so I figured there should be some changes. This time, I armed myself with my rubber boots, so I could move around in the wetland areas with ease. Ease probably isn’t the right word, because I hadn’t changed clothes and was wearing a long skirt, which I had to lift while trudging through the muck. My goal was to find Boreal Chorus Frogs, but they are tiny. Boreal Chorus Frogs are only about 3/4″ to 1-1/2″ in length, whereas the adult Northern Leopard Frog, Green Frog, Eastern American Toad, and American Bullfrog are typically twice that size or more. For such a loud call (a high-pitched trill reminiscent of scraping one’s finger over the teeth of a comb), it sure is small. Once again, I failed in my attempt in photographing Boreal Chorus Frogs.
Although I wasn’t very graceful, as I was holding up my skirt while taking pictures and sinking knee deep into the marshy areas of the Crawfish River, I did photograph a large number of Northern Leopard Frogs. The Northern Leopard Frog’s call has been described as a long snore followed by grunts. I actually think of it more like a grumbly tummy; in fact, when I first heard it, I wondered why my stomach was so upset! There is a lot of variation in the coloring of Northern Leopard Frogs, and a lot of the frogs around here in general. This one is brownish, while others are very green, but they all have spots with rounded borders and a lighter ring on the outside.
I probably would have spent more time tracking down frogs and toads, since I did find an Eastern American Toad at Astico, and with patience I might have found some other species, but my daughter had a band concert. Since I had sunk down to past my knees in the marsh, water managed to get into my boots. Although it was a difficult task, I got out of the marsh, sat down on a bench and stretched my leg out so that water would come out of the boots. Not all of it did, though, so I sloshed the rest of the way to the car. Luckily I had some other shoes with me, but I still got to stink like the Crawfish River for the duration of the concert.