Thursday, October 18, 2007

Frog Town

Lately I have been doing a lot of work helping home owners close their water gardens for the winter. The plants have to be cut back, debris cleaned off the bottom or drained completely, the filter and pump cleaned and stored properly, and the water garden covered with a net if there are a lot of deciduous trees nearby. This can be a mucky job and I guess that is one reason why people hire me. But I have been enjoying the work. The owners often help or visit with me while I work; sharing their lives, their gardens, and sometimes their homes and home-made cookies! But even if nobody is around I always have company.
Frogs. I can't believe the numbers. They don't seem too worried about me invading their habitat, and once they get accustomed to me will even come closer and watch me work. They are usually green frogs (rana clamitans melanota) but on occasion, if there is a nearby farm pond, I will find bullfrogs (rana catesbeiana). Last week there were 3 bullfrogs nearly the length of my boot in one pond, but I didn't have my camera with me to show you. The easiest way to distinuish between a green frog and a bullfrog, besides a bullfrog being nearly twice the size of a green frog (up to 6 in. compared to 2 1/4 - 3 1/2 in.), the green frog has two pronounced ridges down the length of its back. The green frog will utter a short, high pitched cry when it is disturbed and jumps. When I entered that pond last week with the bullfrogs, they stayed put and looked like baby alligator heads mixed in the lily pads and rocks.
The pond owners are delighted to have frogs in their backyard habitat. They usually have fish which they have purchased but none of owners have intentionally put tadpoles or frogs in their water gardens. So where do all the frogs come from? Well, Toledo isn't called Frog Town for nothin'! Toledo is in Northwest Ohio, site of the Great Black Swamp. This is a glacially-caused wetland, which has been drained and mostly converted to farm land in the last 120 years. There are still some natural swamps, marshes and creeks, plus miles of man-made drainage ditches and hundreds of farm, recreational, and drainage ponds. These all provide habitat for frogs and nearly every backyard is within 1/2 mile of one of these. Those rainy days and nights help the frogs migrate through wet lawns. Also, frog eggs may have been deposited by birds which visit the water gardens or attached to plants which the home owner purchased and placed in their water garden. The only complaint I ever hear about the frogs is that it sometimes is too noisy to sleep with so many frogs calling on warm spring nights. Wouldn't you enjoy staying awake for that symphony? I bet water gardeners in drought-ridden States would.

1 comment:

Louise Kahle said...

I would love to hear the sound of frogs. I grew up in rural Maine and we couldn't have imagined not having the windows open at night. I miss that. I live on a busy street in Toledo and relish the nights when I can fall asleep with the window open. The cars going by actually lull me to sleep. I tell myself their noise is ocean waves washing onto the beach.
That's the power of positive thinking!