Sunday, November 14, 2010

Frogfest 2010

On a wet night during week 6, a group of volunteers and interns were treated to another example of the amazing diversity of wildlife surrounding our base here at Jalova. Staff member Jon was so encouraged by the wet conditions that he organised, at short notice, a ‘frog walk’ out to the coconut plantation behind base. Such was the interest across base that we had to be divided into 2 groups. I headed out with Melissa, Alana and Dave (all 6 month interns) with the hope of spotting some interesting frogs, possibly different species to those already seen occasionally on forest night walks – we were not to be disappointed.

The first thing that struck us as we entered the coconut plantation was the noise of the frogs. It really was incredible and like nothing any of us had experienced before. As we reached the first pond we immediately spotted a Drab Treefrog and then looked to the branch below where a pair of Olive-Snouted Treefrogs were mating. As we continued walking around the pond , it was clear that we had not reached the source of the loudest croaking. So we started heading across the plantation towards the rousing chorus, spotting both a red brocket deer and a common opossum on the way. As soon as we got close, the cacophony became deafening. So much so that we were actually struggling to hear each other speak! As we looked around, we realised that the cause of this noise was the calling of thousands of Olive-snouted, San Carlos, Hourglass and Drab Treefrogs. There were so many that it was difficult to avoid stepping on them and we were all amazed at how such tiny creatures could make such an incredible sound.

Olive snouted treefrog

White-lipped mud turtle

Other interesting discoveries at the swamp included Taylor’s Leopard Frogs and the beautiful Red-eyed Treefrog. The second team were also delighted to find an unusual White-lipped Mud-turtle and see the huge siluetteform of a Great Potoo (a large owl like bird) perched atop a tall tree. We had all experienced the frog calls previously on forest night walks but never in such numbers and to such an incredible decibel level. It was an unforgettable experience for all involved and I’m sure it won’t be the last frog walk we enjoy before the end of phase.

Drab treefrog

Taylor's leopard frog

Species sighted:
Red-eyed Treefrog – Agalychnis callidryas
Olive-snouted Treefrog – Scinax elaeochroa
San Carlos Treefrog – Hyla phlebodes
Hourglass Treefrog – Hyla ebracata
Drab Treefrog – Smilisca sordid
Taylor’s Leopard Frog – Rana taylori
Smokey Jungle Frog – Leptodactylus pentadactylus
White-lipped Mud-turtle – Kinosternon leucostomum
Great Potoo – Nyctibius grandis
Red Brocket Deer – Mazama americana
Common Opossum – Didelphis marsupialis

Written by – Simon Howell