Monday, March 22, 2010

How to talk to frogs

Just 10 days ago our garden pond was covered in a layer of ice. Yesterday I counted 44 frogs in it, wallowing in a sea of gelatinous spawn. They certainly haven't wasted any time in reproducing and they're still at it..... it's a bacchanalian orgy in there. This year I've covered the pond with a net, to ward of the predatory heron that wrought terrible havoc last year in the midst of all this amphibian lust.
.... meanwhile the spawn that has already been laid is beginning to develop. If you look closely at these eggs you can see a furrow across the centre of each. This is the first division of the fertilised egg, the first step on the road to it becoming a tadpole and then ....... if it's incredibly lucky, a frog. You can find a detailed illustrated description of the whole process, from fertilisation to froglet, here.
Yesterday I tried a little experiment that I've tried before... which always works. I used a portable recorder to record the frogs' mating calls, then played them back to them. The effect was instantaneous - 44 pairs of eyes swivelled in my direction and they all advanced towards the recorder. Intimidating.

14 comments:

  1. If you had recorded video instead of audio, would that have been frog's porn?

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  2. Oh my goodness, all those frogs! The first photograph is very romantic with the two frogs gazing at each other from across a crowded... er, pond. :D

    "44 pairs of eyes swivelled in my direction and they all advanced towards the recorder. Intimidating." Sounds like a great opening line for a horror story!

    :O) Laughing at the very witty comment made by Nyctalus.... frog's porn, tee-hee. :D

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  3. Good to know they've survived the winter Phil.
    Makes me wonder how they manage it.
    Love that last shot of all the eyes looking the same way.

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  4. An amphibian version of 'The Birds' no less. I though I was doing well with three frogs visible this year. At one stage my pond had over an inch of ice for well over a week. It is surprising just what can survive such harsh conditions. I haven't seen my local Heron since just before the very icy weather.

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  5. Wish I'd thought of that Nyctalus!

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  6. I'm hoping they get stuck into some serious slug eating when they've finished breeding, Lesley.

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  7. Beats me how they survive too, Keith. The pond was completely frozen over for six weeks this winter, with the frogs somewhere down in the sludge at the bottom.

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  8. Hi John, there does seem to be a bias towards males in the population John - judging by the blobs of spawn they outnumber females by about 3 to 1. It's going to be tadpole soup in there in a few weeks time...

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  9. Great post Phil. It's amazing how quickly all of this happens especially after such a harsh winter. One of the ponds in the Botanic Garden was alive with frogs and toads last week too. Can't wait for the new generation to cause some havoc when they leave the pond!!

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  10. Hi Steve, a week later and there was only one frog left in the pond, surrounded by an ocean of jelly..

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  11. I counted about 60 frogs on my pond this year and have more spawn than ever. Today thre's just one or two frogs left, probably the usual residents.
    Hopefully there'll be more tadpoles than last year which was a disaster.

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  12. Je découvre !!! vos photos sont superbes...
    Merci pour ce joli moment passé dans votre univers

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  13. Hi Pauline, It's amazing how fast they disappear from the pond once they've spawned, isn't it...?

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  14. Merci beaucoup,Marie-Monique!

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