Pond anniversary …

It’s two years this month since the construction of my frog pond, and as you can see from my original posting, and the photos below – it’s come a long way since then.

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Pond September 2012


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Pond September 2014

There have been a few ups and downs along the way …

Like the goldfish which died within days of being set free, or became meals for kookaburras.  In retrospect, this was not a bad thing as they probably would have eaten tadpoles anyway, and the few that remain live up to their Comet name, being wary and probably slightly traumatised!

Then there was the soupy green algae which developed the first summer, and necessitated the installation of an unattractive shade cloth.  I’m hoping that by the end of this summer, the tree ferns I planted will sufficiently shade the pond to allow its removal.

And the substantial leak which developed this winter.  A messy digging session uncovered a subsidence problem, now fixed.

None of this, however, seemed to faze the frogs who turned up in great numbers to disturb my summer nights.  The frog species count currently stands at 9, and I’m hoping for more this season.  Visit my new Frog Page to see photos and videos.

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Does my bum look big on this bamboo ?

I’m taking a frog hiatus …

RSCN3476 (600x800)This will be my last frog post for a while … not because nothing is happening in the frog pond, but because there is a real danger that I will become known as “that mad frog woman” who spends her evenings crawling around in the dark with a torch in one hand and a camera in the other!!

So, the frog population seems to have stabilised, and they have all taken up a favourite spot … the big Green Tree Frogs love the black bamboo, the Red-Eyes cling to the fronds of the tree ferns, the Dwarf Tree Frogs arrange themselves on the rocks at the edge of the pond, the Striped Marsh Frogs float next to the rocks and that Damned Smooth Toadlet makes himself invisible in the leaf litter.

Meanwhile the ecology of the pond is developing.  As well as damsel flies, there are now water boatmen and assorted tadpoles, as well as four goldfish and several small fry.  The water lettuce is multiplying and the insect-eating bladderwort is flowering.

Several people have asked where I get my frog information … if you have a smart phone you can download the Australian Museum’s Frogs Field Guide app for $1.99. It has photos, sounds, location guides and even a Frog Log where you can record your frog sightings.  And … if you think you’ve identified a frog you can play the sound and if you are correct, the frog will answer back!!

If you don’t have a smart phone you can buy Dave Stewart’s CD Australian Frog Calls – Subtropical East but obviously there no photos, and you have to keep running backwards and forwards between the pond and your sound player.

Frog Fact: Did you know that frogs have selective hearing and only hear the calls of males of their own kind?  Unfortunately, humans can hear them all !!

Pondemonium …

DSCN3360 (800x600)Well, it’s been a week since the “drought” broke, and the night of the first rain, it was pondemonium. Half an hour after I went to bed I had to get up again to find some earplugs!

Through the racket I thought I heard the call of a Dainty Tree Frog, but due to my precarious position hanging over the edge of the pond in the dark, with camera in one hand and torch in the other, I was only able to take a fuzzy long-distance photo, so this sighting will have to remain un-confirmed.  Not to worry though, the frog count is now up to six with two new arrivals. The Striped Marsh Frog which makes a sound a bit like a tennis ball being struck, and the Bleating Tree Frog which makes a really annoying high pitched bleating sound.

The Common Green Tree frog has attracted a mate (see un-censored photo!!) and the main pond now has a large population of tadpoles.  Although just whose tadpoles they are is anyone’s guess. The Dwarf Tree Frog population has exploded, and at night their calls can be heard coming from every direction.

As I write this, a large storm cell is passing over Bellingen. The rain gauge has just gone over the 30mm mark, the pond level has risen almost to the bottom of the grass, and the night chorus is just getting started ….
So, whose idea was it to wish for rain ???

Footnote: Around midnight the centre of the cell passed overhead, dumping a huge volume of rain in a very short time.  Even the frogs shut up for a while !!

You won’t believe this … it’s another frog !

DSCN3345 (800x600)The evening started off well when I spotted a pair of Wompoo Fruit Doves outside my kitchen window, hanging upside down and feasting on the berries of a Bangalow palm.  This spectacular bird with purple, yellow and green plumage, also called the Magnificent Fruit Dove, is usually found in rainforests so I was thrilled to see them in the garden.  They make a sound like a drain, or a rock being thrown into water.  If you Google “wompoo” you will find better photos than I was able to take.

RSCN3354 (800x600)Then I heard the unmistakable call of the Common Tree Frog – also known as the Dunny Frog for its fondness for sitting just under the rim of toilet bowls. (Quite disconcerting if you are not expecting it!)  It is one of Australia’s largest frogs, and can often be found in drainpipes where it uses the acoustics to project its mating call.  They have been known to live up to 20 years, so maybe it will be around for a while (hopefully not in my drainpipes).

Then … the drought broke, and it started to rain.  As I left the pond I counted five Dwarf Tree frogs, two Red-Eyed Tree frogs, one Common Tree frog, and one Smooth Toadlet all singing their version of the Halleluiah Chorus.