Frog Foray: Fish frantic.

August 22, 2009

Last night brought tumultuous weather—winds, rain, thunder, lightening.  Early this morning, the clouds began to dissolve in the bright sun.  The air was still thick on my skin though, a lingering reminder of the tempest of the previous night.  It’s been a stormy summer, but the storms typically don’t have much impact on the behavior patterns of our frogs.  They are creatures of habit.  But this morning, everything was confused.

The only female bullfrog moved from the Ponderosa to the People Pond

Female bullfrog sitting on water lettuce in the People Pond

First of all, the green frog that sits at the edge of the Ponderosa while we have coffee was nowhere to be seen.  Hopefully he’s ok.  The female frog, who we have never seen venture out of the Ponderosa, was sitting prominently in the middle of a water lettuce patch in the shallows of the People Pond.  Ed, the largest bullfrog, was sitting in the spot that Tommy sits in every day.  And that brings me to Tommy, the second largest bullfrog.  He is about six inches from nose to butt.

Tommy sits underneath the pickerel rush plants, next to the water lily, in the People Pond.  He has been there every single morning this summer.  We see him there every evening when we return from work.  This morning, we found he had migrated to the Ponderosa.  We have never seen him in the Ponderosa before.

Tommy the Bullfrog, camouflaged by water lettuce, stalks fish.

Tommy the Bullfrog, camouflaged by water lettuce, stalks fish.

While we enjoyed our morning coffee, Tommy stayed for a while in the plants at the side of the Ponderosa, but then he moved over to the shallow end (about a foot from our feet).  He scoped out the area for a few minutes, then emerged from the water, camouflaged by some small water lettuce plants.

He sat there for a brief period, waiting.  Then, a decent-sized goldfish (perhaps 4 inches or so) swam by.  Before we knew it, Tommy pounced, grabbing the fish headfirst.  He emerged from the water with that fish half in/half out of his mouth.

Tommy the Bullfrog with goldfish tail hanging out of mouth.

Tommy the Bullfrog with goldfish tail hanging out of mouth.

We had seen him go for the small mosquitofish before, but this was a huge eat.  We were worried that he would spit the fish out (after killing it), realizing that it was too big to eat.  He took that fish, swam a little farther away, and gradually choked down that fish over a period of about 15 minutes.  What a show!

Tommy as he digests the goldlish, the tips of the goldfish tail hanging out of his mouth.

Tommy as he digests the goldlish, the tips of the goldfish tail hanging out of his mouth.

The fish were not amused by this display of frog-gression (ha!).  They fled the scene, disappearing into the depths.

Note:  The quality of these pictures is far from optimal.  The humidity caused the lens of the camera to continually fog up, making it very difficult to focus.

Two medium bullfrogs sit together at the edge of the pond.

Two medium bullfrogs sit together at the edge of the pond.

We are a bit concerned about the status of the frogs in the Ponderosa.  We have been consistently counting at least one large and two medium bullfrogs.  We also have one froglet.  Since the night heron appeared, we have only been able to spot one frog and the froglet.  We are hopeful that the others are hiding.  This is a picture of the two missing frogs.

Thankfully, there appears to be no change in the large pond.  The frog count there remains at two large bullfrogs and one, possibly two,  small green frogs.

The night heron had a good meal at Dragonwyck Sanctuary yesterday morning, so we are expecting that he may return.  We checked periodically throughout the night, but we didn’t see him.  We don’t have enough fish and frogs to sustain that big boy for long!