Saturday, 26 July 2008

#51 A summary of my backyard frogs

I have photographed at least 9 frog species in my backyard, which is pretty amazing for my little 2/3 acre patch on the cleared and over-used farm flats. Here I will give a brief outline of my frog visitors and residents . . . . .

Green Tree Frog - Litoria caeulea - Dec 2007

The Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea) is possibly the most recognised of Australian frogs, but unfortunately, populations of the Green Tree Frog have declined noticeably in some areas where it was once common. This is due to destruction or degratation of habitat.

It is found throughout the eastern and northern half of Australia, with adults growing to 10cm in length (larger specimens have been recorded).

Large toe pads makes the Green Tree Frog an excellent climber, and can be found in mailboxes, meter boxes and bathrooms. They seem to have a particular liking for toilet bowls. In their natural environment they take shelter in tree hollows and rock crevices, and will mostly feed at night on insects.

Breeding in summer and wet seasons, the tadpoles grow to about 9cm before metamorphasing. More information on the Green Tree Frog can be found at Frogs Australia Network.

Ornate Burrowing Frog - Opisthodon ornatus - Feb 05

A much more patterned Ornate Burrowing Frog - Nov 07

Ornate Burrowing Frog (Opisthodon ornatus [formerly known as Limnodynastes ornatus]). As illustrated in the two images above, the colour and skin pattern of the Ornate Burrowing Frog, can vary greatly.

Also illustrated in the above photo, the toes of a burrowing frog are adapted to digging. Ornate Burrowing Frogs only grow to 5cm in length, although most adults are smaller than this. The adults I have seen in my backyard have been between 3.5 and 4cm in length, and quite wide in comparison.

This insectivorous frog has a very rapid egg-tadpole-frog cycle, an adaptation to beat the drying out of the breeding waterholes. The Ornate Burrowing Frog is also found in northern and eastern parts of Australia. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

Spotted Grass Frog Limnodynastes tasmaniensis - Jul 07
Note raised fold running from behind the eye to the leg

Spotted Grass (Marsh) Frogs
Note one has a central stripe on back, and one does not

Spotted Grass (or Marsh) Frog - Limnodynastes tasmaniensis, is another burrowing frog, but can be distinguished from the often similarly marked Ornate Burrowing Frog by the raised fold of skin running from behind the eye to the arm, which is always present.

Some Spotted Grass Frogs will have a stripe running down the middle of their back. As illustrated in my two images above, there can be a great variation in the brown/green blotched colour. Breeding males have a yellow throat.

They are found in eastern Australia, usually in swampy areas around ponds and dams, and I have found them in weedy areas around my yard after rain. Breeding takes place from spring to autumn. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

Lesueur's Tree Frog - Litoria wilcoxi - Nov 07

Lesueur's Frog - note small toe pads, and no webbing

Lesueur's Tree Frog (Litoria wilcoxi) was an exciting find on a warm night on my back porch. My images above show the bright colours of a breeding male.

I originally posted this frog as Litoria lesueurii, but a reader has informed me that Litoria lesueurii was split into three species a few years back. Those which are north of Sydney are now Litoria wilcoxi (unless they occur in FNQ rainforests, where they are Litoria junguy). [Thank you Evan for your assistance and interest.]

It can reach 7cm in length, but this one was about 5 or 6 cm, with very long agile back legs. It is found along the central and southern coastal regions of NSW, and in eastern Victoria. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

Peron's Tree Frog - Litoria peronii - Apr 08
Note part webbing, and the yellow/black back thighs

Peron's Tree Frog - Litoria peronii - Mar 08
Note the small pale-green blotches

Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria Peronii) is a reasonably common find in my yard during the warmer months. I have found them up to about 5.5cm in length, but they can reach 7cm.

The colour of this frog varies, and green flecks may or may not be present. Inner and back of thighs are bright yellow flecked with black, the toe pads are reasonably large, and toes are partially webbed.

Peron's Tree Frog is mainly a NSW species and can be found in a variety of habitats. I have found it seeking insects on my patio, in the garage, and resting in damp places around the backyard. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

Tyler's (or Laughing) Tree Frog - Litoria Tyleri - Dec 07

Tyler's (or Southern Laughing) Tree Frog (Litoria Tyleri). I mistook this frog for a Peron's Tree Frog, as it is very similar in appearance. The groin, armpits and backs of the thighs are yellow. The groin and backs of the thighs also have brown mottling (not black like Litoria peronii). This frog can be distinguished from Litoria peronii by its lack of spots in the armpits and gold iris.

It is found in coastal regions from central Queensland to eastern Victoria, but obviously a reasonable distance inland, as all frogs featured on this blog page were found in rural Hunter Valley. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

Broad-palmed Frog - Litoria latopalmata - Jun 08

Broad-palmed Frog (Litoria latopalmata) was another surprise find for me, especially in winter. I discovered it in a thick damp weedy area that I was cleaning up. After removing the weeds, I placed broken bricks loosely covered in mulching hay, and dampened the area, in an attempt to provide alternate shelter.

This frog lives in many habitats including forests, coastal and river floodplains, and woodlands in southern Queensland to central NSW. This 4cm frog has long agile back legs, and long toes. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog - Litoria fallax - Jun 08

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog, or Eastern Sedgefrog (Litoria fallax) is an extremely cute little frog I found in my fern garden.

Adults are between 2.5 and 3cm in length, the toes are partially webbed, and a raised fold extends from behind the eye to the armpit.

Its range extends from northern Queensland (excluding Cape York) to southern NSW, along the coast and further inland. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

Leaf Green Tree Frog - Litoria phyllochroa - Apr 05

Leaf Green Tree Frog (Litoria phyllochroa). This is only a tentative identification, as I only had the one sighting, and my photograph is very poor. I found it while weeding, and relocated it nearby very quickly.

This small green frog with yellow toes was about 2cm long, but they can grow to 4cm. Its habitat is vegetation near a watercourse or dam, from coastal southern Queensland to coastal southern NSW. More information at Frogs Australia Network.

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I am always delighted to see, or hear, frogs in my backyard or immediate surroundings, but I rarely go looking for them - I just find them during the course of my day. I do, however, check out the back patio in the warmer months after dark, as frogs will feed where insects congregate.

I try to keep poisons and fertilisers to a minimum, and always have some clean water source around the yard. I am hoping to observe more frog species in my surroundings, and will add them to this list.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye,
What a great collection of frogs - from your place. You should call it "Frog Hollow" or something perhaps more poetic, along those lines.
My frogs are pretty much a mystery - in that I hear them, but seldom see them. THey live in the trees in the rainforest, mostly, or deep in wet grass, and either way, they seldom show themselves.
I have just bought a small portable recorder, and once I learn how to use it, I hope to be able to post sounds of my froggies, and get people to help me identify the calls.
The only one I know from its call is the Bleating Tree Frog, which is very distinctive.
I have had Peron's TF visit my windows, several times. And I have seen the Spotted Grass Frog.
Also I have heard the Pobblebonk call.
But they are still mostly a mystery to me.
Your post will help me investigate further.

nut said...

Another great post hv. You have such an amazing diversity of animals in your small block and it is great to see the fantastic pics you - and your hubby? - capture.

Do you have an entry describing your property itself?

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Denis,

thank you. I am only an amateur at identifying these frogs, and have been grateful for help. In my excitement at finding a frog, I often overlooked the very basics of identification features like the size of the toe pads.

With the coming warmer months, I will be once again looking forward to stumbling upon more frogs while in my garden.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi nut,

yes, I was amazed after counting up the numbers too.

Although our house block is only a couple of hundred metres from the Hunter River, the land surrounding our yard is unimproved grazing, with hardly even a tree in site, and no permanent water other than troughs. The river bank is too steep for me to be bothered trying to negotiate often, but I imagine there would be frogs down there. But it is the puddles in the paddock following rain where the frog chorus comes from. However, all the frogs in this blog have been photographed within my small yard.

My neighbour's yard also has no established plants, and no water.

Our yard was completely bare in Dec 03 - and I mean, not even any grass - nothing.

So, to find all these species of frog only a few years later is quite fabulous and gives me a degree of satisfaction at providing habitat, or at least shelter and a means of collecting food.

My native gardens are becoming established, I have a pond and other water placed around the yard, and a few messy nooks.

In my "Introduction" post, there is a brief description and photos of my backyard. It has improved very much since taking those photos.


nut said...

It is great to see and read, thanks for taking the time :o)

Duncan said...

Lucky you! A good story in these days of declining frog populations.
Cow paddocks can be good for frogs, as a boy on a dairy farm, every bit of wood I turned over had frogs underneath, the good old days.

Evan said...

Hi Gaye,

Great post. Litoria lesueurii was split into three species a few years back. Those which are north of Sydney are now Litoria wilcoxi (unless they occur in FNQ rainforests, where they are Litoria junguy).


Gaye from the Hunter said...

Duncan, thank you. The cow paddock adjoining our yard has small hollows (probably as a result removing trees) that hold water reasonably well after periods of prolonged rain (black clay soil). In the warmer weather when the puddles are longlasting after rain, rafts of frog spawn can be seen. I did a photograph study of some developing tadpoles in a puddle a couple of years ago, and should post that up sometime.

Evan, thank you for your continued assistance with my local frogs. I appreciate it very much.


Mosura said...

I may have already comment but the computer had a fit so I don't think it went through.

Nine species is excellent! We have only had two here so far. I here others up in the undergrowth so maybe if I ever build the pond I'm planning we will see more.

The most common one, which I have not even ID'd yet has only been seen when I dig in the backyard. I've found them after digging two feet down through large rocks and hard soil. They are fat, perhaps engorged with water and take a minute or so to wake up.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Mosura,

apologies for the delay - I've been away all week.

Unfortunately for us (perhaps fortunately, for the frogs), their daytime and winter lives are rather secretive. I hope that pond becomes a reality in time, and that the frogs appreciate your effort, and take advantage of it.


David said...

Hi Gaye,

Its good to be back online again....Ive missed your site.
Such cool frog shots.
Very nice work.


Maree said...

Wonderful frogs to have found on your property and stunning photographs!

I'm am amateur when it comes to identifying frogs and other creatures however I run to the ID books often, and I'm pleased to be able to say that I have seen most of the above frogs on my property too, about an hour south of the Hunter.

You have inspired me to make more notes and perhaps get a macro lens for my camera!


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi David,

I also have some catching up to do with my favourite nature blogs. It is good to hear from you. Thank you.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Maree, and welcome to my nature blog.

It is very encouraging to hear of frog observations. My photos in this entry were all taken on my little "point-and-shoot" digital (without macro), which shows that a you-beaut camera is not always necessary. Although there are limitations with the little cameras, practice will usually produce familiarity with the camera, and therefore give you pleasing results. Good luck with your photography.

Thank you for leaving a comment.


Kath said...

Hi Gaye

I'm in Bathurst, NSW, and was pleased to find what I think was a Peron's tree frog in our laundry last night. Your photos helped me identify the little cutie! I'd be interested to know about how you constructed your frog pond, as it seems to have been a real hit with the local frog population! I'd love to do the same here. Thanks again!