Monday, 21 April 2008

#49 Jumping with frogs

Summer in the Hunter Valley has been wetter than recent summers, and it was very encouraging to hear the delightful frog chorus every night, knowing that breeding was taking place in my immediate surroundings. I am not experienced in identifying the various calls all competing, so I have to rely on chance meetings to discover just what species are living around me.

And I have been thrilled to encounter several frog species which have previously escaped my attention. One of the most common sightings has been the cute little Peron's Tree Frog.

Notice the pale green flecks of the Peron's Tree Frog

Peron's Tree Frog - Litoria peronii

Peron's Tree Frogs have bright yellow with black mottling on the armpits, groin and back of thighs which is a key identifying feature if you are fortunate to glimpse this as it moves around. Its back is rough-textured, but varies in colour from almost white to a pale green-grey, through shades of light brown, to reddish brown.

It is recorded that the Peron's Tree Frog will change its colour depending on the light exposure, temperature, moisture and other factors. I have not been lucky enough to observe this.

All Peron's Tree Frogs I have seen have been flecked with pale irridescent-like green irregularly shaped spots over the back, although research indicates that this feature is not always present.

It is an excellent climber with large toe pads, and part webbing. I found the frog in the following photo, on my glass door on top of a spider's web which did not appear to lessen its grip. Notice the yellow with dark blotches on the inner and back thigh.

Peron's Tree Frog is an excellent climber

The Peron's Tree Frogs I have seen around my backyard have all been small slender frogs between 30 and 45mm long. Most reliable records indicate that they can grow up to 50 or 60mm in length, but I found a freshly killed 70mm plump frog in the Barrington Tops rainforest which I believe was a Peron's Tree Frog.

The call is a distinctive "chuckle" consisting of between fifteen and twenty rapid descending notes. There is a link to its call here.

I discovered two Peron's Tree Frogs, active and seemingly healthy, in a thick batch of liquid manure as I used the smelly home-made fertilizer concentrate yesterday. I was astonished to find the frogs in such an unlikely habitat, but I took advantage of the opportunity to photograph the usually hidden thigh colouration before I relocated them to a damp spot where they would not be disturbed.

Distinctive thigh colour of Peron's Tree Frog

Peron's Tree Frog is mainly a NSW species, but its range does extend marginally into adjoining states. Although often occuring in association with rivers and similar large bodies of water, this species breeds in the semi-permanent water bodies that form after rain, in summer. Throughout summer, there were puddles in the paddock adjoining my yard that would have suited their breeding.

Tadpoles are an irridescent green or golden-yellow with a high crested tail. Now that I am aware of this feature, I will search for the tadpoles next breeding season so that I can observe and photograph them.

Most specimens I have found, have been out on wet nights. During the day, they take shelter in protected spots.

A Peron's Tree Frog takes cover as I approach - Note: a reader has informed me that this is not a Peron's Tree Frog, but is Tyler's (or Laughing) Tree Frog - Litoria Tyleri

I observed the following scene in Barrington Tops National Park on the eastern rim of the Hunter Valley: I inadvertently disturbed a Stephen's Banded Snake, Hoplocephalus stephensi, after it had presumably killed a large Peron's Tree Frog. As I lay spread out on the rainforest floor photographing fungi, this scene was played out just metres from me.

The snake was small, and the frog was large. I would have been thrilled to see the snake consume this meal, but it slid into a hole at the base of the tree where the kill took place. However, I felt privileged to witness such an amazing sight in the battle to survive in the wild.

Stephen's Banded Snake with dead frog

There are still frogs about as the warm nights are replaced by a chill, so rug up the kids and take them frog spotting with a torch at night after rain. Discourage children from handling frogs as they have permeable skin which absorbs toxins - just enjoy their activity.


Evan said...

Great entry Gaye! I was wondering whether you have any other views of that second last frog? I have a feeling it is a different species, buy can't get a good look at it from that view. If you do, could you email me the photo?

The last photo is a very impressive find, great timing and well captured! It is certainly a female Peron's. I have seen them that large before, but it isn't common.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Evan,

yes, I do have better views of the hiding frog. Looking closer at them, it does not have the green flecks like the others and does not appear to be as textured on the back. I will send you some pictures via email hoping that you can either confirm that it is a Peron's, or offer an alternate species suggestion.

Regarding the last picture in my blog, what is the identifying feature that makes it a female? Is it just the large size, or something else?


Evan said...

There are a few features to tell sex, but I used size in this case. Male Perons will never get that large, she is huge! Also, during the breeding season, males get gorgeous yellow markings along their flanks, and females stay bland. You can also use nuptial pads, but they're only present in the breeding season.

Here's a male which is more colourful on the flanks than the average female.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye

Sorry I have been too busy fighting local issues to check your blog recently.
Great scene of dead frog and the snake. It looks like a "theatrical set", the way it is all layed out.

Wonderful stuff.


David said...

Hi Gaye,

Fascinating post...and such great photography.
I havent seen any frogs in Germany yet...though I will keep an eye out and post any I find.
They dont have too many snakes, though there is a small local species that may show up before im home...still a little cool for many reptiles yet.
I have posted some of the flora and fauna I have seen though.
Let me know what you think.



Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Denis,

thank you for your comment. I apologise for the delay in posting it and responding as I have been wandering around the WA bush for a few weeks.

I am still hearing the occasional frog call around my yard.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi David,

I checked out your blog yesterday and figured you were now overseas somewhere - what an interesting opportunity to take note of some foreign species and the environment in which they live. Enjoy. And I will most definitely check them out more closely.


AliCatZen said...

Hi Gaye,
Just spotted a grayish-white Peron's tree frog today in Byron Bay. It was sitting on the driveway in broad wintery daylight around 2pm. As the children tried to relocate it, it hopped into the garden where we left it in peace. We noticed as it moved, brilliant strong yellow with black splotches in the arm pits, thigh and groin. The iris was the same colour as the body and the pupil was the shape of a cross.
stunning little creature!
Thanks for your blog, it's great to know what one is looking at.
Best wishes, Ali.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello AliCatZen,

thank you for your response. Yes, the Perons Tree Frog certainly is a beautiful creature, and there can indeed be a variation in the shade of the upper colour. I have seen some quite dark brownish.

I have also found them in the dry northwest of NSW.


Ray & Sue said...

Thanks for a great post. We have been trying to ID our resident frog for a while now your post was excellent.

Regards Ray

Patricia said...

Via a frog identification site and your images I was able to confirm the identity of a Peron's tree frog. The colouring, skin texture and proportions are exacly the same, with pale gold eyes. We came across him/her last night sitting on the glass just like in your picture, at a holiday house in Broulee, NSW. It moved after having a torch pointed at it then my boyfriend decided to very gently and slowly poke it with his thumb. It promptly hopped onto his forearm, got its bearings then plopped onto the decking and into the night.

Gaye said...

Hello Patricia,

I'm glad my blog and pictures were helpful in identifying your froggy visitor. Peron's Tree Frog appears to be quite wide spread.


Jack said...

Yeah hi

I saw the frog in Queensland, Noosa were i live. I didnt know what it was so i typed in google pictures and found it which then directed me to your sight.So yeah just letting u know that there in Noosa.

Gaye said...

Hello Jack,

I'm glad my website was of help to you in identifying the frog you found. Thank you for your comment.