Variations, and the return of the Wood Frogs

One of the problems that we encounter when trying to identify species is that there can be quite a lot of variation in appearance. The above example is a case in point. I found this very tiny lady beetle while I was walking about in the woods yesterday. Although it has 4 black spots on its elytra, I am certain that it’s actually the native Two-spotted Lady Beetle (Adalia bipunctata), which is known to have variable markings. The two-spotted specimens look like this, while the four-spotted specimens look like this — pretty much the same as the beetle I found yesterday. It’s helpful to know about such variations when you’re out looking around for insects or other creatures. Unfortunately, most guide books just show the most common field marks and don’t tend to show variations.

Well, they’re finally back! The Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) have returned to the drainage creek out behind the barn. Two days ago, I heard some in the ditch that runs along the highway in front of our place. Yesterday morning, I heard and saw them in the drainage creek. I made this little .mp4 movie clip in the afternoon — you won’t actually see any frogs, but I wanted to show the habitat — willow brush and cattails in about 30 to 40cm (12 to 16 inches) of water — and give you a chance to hear these frogs. When we first moved to the farm about 30 years ago, I used to hear this quacking and thought there were ducks out behind the barn. At times, there were a couple of ducks, but most of the quacking was actually coming from the many Wood Frogs that gathered in the drainage creek each year.

The Wood Frogs are a little late in making their appearance this year. Last year they turned up on April 12th, so we’re lagging by about eight days. By this time last year, the eggs were already starting to look like tadpoles. There are a few other posts about the Wood Frogs between those two posts from last year if you’re interested in learning more about them. The photo below is of one of the Wood Frogs seen yesterday. At this time of the year, their coloration usually looks somewhat different than it will later in the year. This page from the Rhode Island Vernal Pools website has a nice photo of a pair of frogs during breeding season, as well as a typical photo of an adult with its characteristic mask. You can also see my own photo of a frog as it looks outside of breeding season here.

Well, tomorrow is the beginning of the Blogger Bioblitz. For the next week, I’ll be busy here at the farm, and perhaps at a couple of other locations as well, making a list of the flora and fauna that I see. As of yesterday, they were 44 bloggers signed up to blitz a site in their area. You can check out the list here. I plan to post almost-daily progress reports with highlights from my counts. I’ll be setting up a photo gallery for images, and a spreadsheet which I hope to be able to share with you. I’ll also try to draw up a little map and post that somewhere so that you’ll have a better feel for the areas that I’ll be surveying. I’m quite looking forward to seeing what other bloggers find in their regions. Once the bioblitz week is over, everyone’s data will be collected and a few volunteers are going to put it all together into a format where we can share the results. I’m really quite impressed with the way this is coming together so far. If you’re a blogger and wish to participate, I don’t think it’s too late. Just visit Jeremy Bruno’s Voltage Gate blog to sign up. To all of the other participants, good luck. I hope all of you find plenty of interest at your sites!

Tags: , , ,

  • Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Trackback URI:
  • Comments RSS 2.0

6 Responses to “Variations, and the return of the Wood Frogs”

  1. Nasher Says:

    I glad that your feel of life is vivid to the dgree that I can grap it here in arabia.
    nasher why you r around!
    yah’ sure, I find my self end up with a colored frog once I was tut my self of 3ds max… My fading pasion of texture as an unconvintional watercolorist suddenlly arosed’ searching the web to find more about tropican rain forest, so I find your site frish warm and save some one sermony not to talk at me of some sort of( whach it reproduction of this content is prohepited etic.) I here becuse I am only liking nuture and not for some other way around!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Nasher – Welcome to my blog. I’m glad that you are able to find the “feel of life” that is exists here. That’s what I try to write about each day — the things that I see happening in the natural world around me. So, you are an artist? I find that most artists have a special appreciation for the natural world as they are accustomed to attention to detail and are often such good observers.

  3. Pamela Says:

    Serendipity! I saw a frog I didn’t recognize at the edge of the Stoco Fen yesterday–no mask, so I assumed not a wood frog. Now I see that perhaps it was after all. Thanks, Bev!

  4. Cathy Says:

    Happy blitzing, Bev! This is such a wonderful, busy time and I know you’ll be sharing your joy with us, though I’ll bet you’ll be a bit sleep deprived. (Loved the clip! I’ll be heading out to a ditch near me)

  5. Larry Says:

    I don’t think I would qualify for the blitz but it sounds like fun.I couldn’t even identify the butterfly that i took a photo of yesterday.

  6. burning silo Says:

    Pamela – I’ll bet that was a Wood Frog. They’re rather conspicuous by their numbers (and quacking) at this time of the year!

    Cathy – Thanks! Yes, it’s been a little busy the last couple of days and I probably will end up being sleep deprived. We’re just about to begin doing some frog call surveys — I think the weather conditions are just about right for that. We heard some very strong choruses while out hiking yesterday and I’m expecting much the same today.

    Larry – I don’t think you need be concerned about qualitying for the blitz – it’s really more a fun thing than anything else. Its real purpose is to get people out looking at the nature a little more closely than they otherwise might. I just checked your blog to see if the butterfly shot was there. If you can post a bit larger shot of it, I could take a look and maybe offer a guess — I’m in a different area, so the species will be different, but you never know!