Brown-striped frog and friends

A little while ago I did a post on the pressures and threats that frog species are facing worldwide: Global Frog Decline.

Hardly the most enjoyable post I've ever written. Happily, and in direct contrast to that, we're going to celebrate a small selection of N.QLD frogs that we found both here at home and a little further afield.

Australia has around 208 species of frog 61 of which call the tropics home (27 of these are endemic*). let's have alook at a few of them eh?

The Brown-striped frog isn't the most remarkable frog that I have ever encountered. Its 'nest' of spawn though is well worth a look if you can find any, hidden away under reeds and grasses at the waters edge as they usually are. But for me - it's the call of this frog that got my attention ...

Jo and I were sitting outside chatting about this and that when every so often there was a sound a little like a rock being dropped onto another rock ... "TOK". A short pause and then an answering "TOK". I was convinced it was frogs - Jo less so. And in Jo's defence, it really did sound man-made. She was sure someone was knocking something around and we were hearing an echo.

As the sun set the, errr ... Tokking continued. Eventually, we'd had enough and decided to investigate. After a little bit of gentle searching at the waters edge, Jo discovered our mysterious caller who I photographed.

Limnodynastes peronii

AKA Striped marsh frog

The beautiful bubble 'nest' of its spawn

I wish I had recorded the sound to share with you. Still as it already has two common names, I thought I'd add a third - I called it the 'Ping-pong' frog as the answered calls of the males reminded me of the sounds heard during a table-tennis match ... 'tok' ... 'tok' ... (you may have had to be there ...).

With one frog under our belt - we thought we'd head out looking for some more. So armed with head torch and cameras off we went. The very next frog was/is one of my favourites. A juv barred frog:

Mixophyes schevilli juv

I was thrilled to see this little guy - all fresh and with such superb markings. I did though really want to find an adult ... turns out the frog gods were with us as just a minute or two later a little away from the water ... awesomeness.


Flushed with success we pushed on and after following a small 'Beep' like sound we found this earnest little fellow:

Ornate Nursery Frog (Cophixalus ornatus) calling

About 30mm T.L

By now I was positively beaming. Jo and I were chattering away in hushed tones when just out of the corner of my eye I spied this next frog as it landed, somewhat precariously, on a pandan.

At first I thought it was a brown whistling frog - then maybe a juv little red frog Litoria rubella. But you know what I now think this is?. I think it could very well be a Whirring treefrog.

Litoria revelata?

Now identifying small frogs is fraught with difficulty and I could be wrong. But here is what the *Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland. 2000 3rd ed has in its I.D section for this frog:

Length 35mm. Blunt snout and moderately long legs. Cream-brown to red-brown on back sometimes with broad, brown stripe; groin and back of thigh orange with black spots. Dark stripe along head to forearm with pale stripe along upper jaw.

Fingers have only trace of webbing, toes half webbed.

Okay, so obviously this photo is only somewhat helpful, but generally when I photograph wildlife I do my best not to intrude physically on them. I don't pose them or otherwise bugger about ... still, I really wish I'd gotten a look at the coloration of the thighs on this one. And why? What makes this frog so 'special'?. Especially when I don't normally get maniacal about such things ...

Well, apparently its quite rare. And if it is indeed the species that I suspect it is, it may be important that we know its current range. This is all speculation of course. I'm not a taxonomist so I intend to send the photo off to someone who knows considerably more than myself. But the range is right and from the pic - the description seems to fit.

I guess we'll see eh?. On with the post ...

This next frog is the first frog Jo and I found when we moved to Oz. And I personally think it is one of Australia's prettiest. The graceful tree frog. It often appears in my posts, no more so than when I photographed some brave individuals seeking mates as a cyclone approached (Cyclone Frogs).

This one though is a regular. In fact, I know where he lives. Right next to the table I am currently writing this on. Hidden in a favorite leaf of a decorative, yet anonymous plant ...

Litoria gracilenta

This last frog is often misidentified. It mildly resembles another - as the calls are very much alike ... I did a post about that too: Raining Frogs.

This diminutive little frog is sometimes called a 'Banana frog', 'Sedge frog' and/or the 'Eastern dwarf frog' ... I like the last name best. It's a small frog - often overlooked. However, like all frogs - it's an indicator of our environments health. So it's always good to see them.

Litoria fallax

Well, that's about it for this post. Cheers for joining me on our froggy outing and thanks to all those who sent best wishes as I recover - much appreciated. Until next time - and as always, take care - Paul :)

During the 1980s, population declines were reported in Australian frog species and are severe in some areas. Many of the frogs that were reported as declining were high altitude, creek dwelling species that were remote from a changing ecology. This indicated that habitat loss and degradation were not responsible for all the declines; the cause is unknown but a diseases known as chytrid fungus may be a factor.

In some cases entire genera were found declining. Both species of gastric brooding frog are now classified as extinct and all but two species of Taudactylus are critically endangered (Taudactylus diurnus is classified as extinct and Taudactylus liemi is classified as near threatened).

Every species in the Philoria genus are currently declining and some species in the "Torrent Frog" complex (Litoria nannotis, Litoria lorica, Litoria nyakalensis and Litoria rheocola) have not been located for a number of years. As of 2006 three Australian species of frog are classified as extinct, 14 listed as critically endangered and 18 as endangered. Of the 14 critically endangered species 4 have not been recorded for over 15 years and may now be extinct. ^

Possum Fever

A little background about this post before we get into the guts of it. Jo and I had a holiday planned since May (I'm writing this in Nov). You know the score - vacation - rest, relaxation - nothing to do but to do what ya like.

All was excitement and smiles in the lead up ... until just a couple of nights before we were due to leave - I got a sore throat. No biggy, I decided, just a tickle - next day it was a worse. Until by the time we were loading up I felt about as energised as road kill.

Still nothing was going to stand in our way and off we went - heading for the tablelands near Atherton to enjoy a few days of wildlife bothering and each other ...

Unfortunately by the time we arrived - about the only thing that gave me any enjoyment was the thought that at least I'd die in a beautiful part of the country. I was miserable. A rash developed on my feet, my throat had a hacksaw blade in it, someone had thrown sand in my eyes and I was about as weak as a Wallaby front row.

The place where we were staying, (a whole post on it is in the works) was everything I hoped it would be secluded, quiet - and full of wildlife potential. In short, it was paradise. Which of course only made me feel worse as I sat on the deck in a blanket and shivered, squinting out at the wonderful bio-diversity I knew I was missing. And poor Jo. I'm not a very good patient - in fact at one point Jo asked if I thought I'd be able to handle a little pick me up:

... 'perhaps a shot of vodka and lemon for the throat'.

"Keep the lemon, hold the vodka - but feel free to shoot me" was my less than gracious reply.

Sigh - sorry Jo.

Anyway, that's how the holiday began - and I'd like to tell you that as the days past I felt better. But no, even as I write this I'm full of aches and pains and general blahdom. And yes, I've been to a Dr - and no, they don't know what's wrong - more tests are required apparently ...

Still, I'm sure that eventually I'll be fine (these things can only go one of two ways I suppose). So chin up and all that right?. Right.

Righto - with my whinging out of the way let's get on with it.

Unusually for an Australian wildlife blog there are a group of animals that I hardly mention. The marsupials. And that's because I rarely see them, and when I do, I generally don't have a camera. It probably doesn't help that, for the most part, I'm looking for little critters or bumbling round trying to find frogs/snakes etc.

All that changed on our first night away.

As dusk fell an absolutely deafening cacophony of insect sounds welcomed the approaching night. There was buzzing and clicking and rasping to gladden even my self-pitying heart (although it didn't do much for the bloody headache - sorry, I'll stop going on). I settled back, closed my eyes for a bit and let the sounds wash over me (recording them on my phone - badly as it turns out, sorry for the low volume). Within 15 mins or so the sounds died down - and after a few moments I heard Jo gasp. I carefully opened one bleary eye, looking in the direction of the rafters Jo was pointing to.

The noise we'd just heard was a 'possum alarm' (click below to listen) and right on cue one had appeared.

Well, that was it as far as I was concerned. At deaths door or not, I was getting some shots - keeling over would just have to wait.

What follows is a selection of pics from our first encounter with these charming if mildly felonious characters ...

Coppery Brushtail Possum: (Trichosurus vulpecular johnstonii)

The wet fur on the chest indicates scent glands for marking territory etc

A little bread ...

Perhaps some wine?

A quick wash 

... followed by a little romance

Yes, I know - I'm being egregiously anthropomorphic. As it does pay to bear in mind that these are wild animals. Habituated to humans, obviously. However, they're not pets. And it's about here that I need to make an admission.

I'm a hypocrite.

I don't know how many times I've said that I do not believe in feeding wild animals, and I don't. I think that feeding wild animals is probably injurious to the well-being of those animals in the long-term. Look at it this way.

When wild animals are fed, natural inhibitors that keep populations in check are removed (i.e. the seasonal availability of food resources). This means that populations of certain animals become artificially increased. This surely causes unintended (and probably unobserved), pressure on other animals, plants or even whole bio-systems.

Another issue is that it may weaken the population as a whole. Animals that may have died as a result of say contracting a disease could, conceivably, linger indefinitely along-side healthy individuals. Thus exposing the healthy to pathogens that they may otherwise not have had the same level of contact with.

So what's my excuse?. I don't have one I'm afraid.

Except to say that I'm human. And when one plucky individual settled on my lap for a scratch behind the ear ... well.

In the case of the little lady guiltily munching away on that bit of bread over Jo's camera, she snaffled that on her own (that pic is one of my all time favourites - it wasn't 'staged'). That's simply where she decided to consume her ill-gotten gains. I'm even considering entering it into a photocomp (full size, it looks quite good - if I do say so myself).

Plus - just how many people can claim to have been 'high-fived' by a possum - well, Jo can ;)

"A bloody grape?!" - "Gimme five darlin" ... 

I may also be over-thinking this. I have a habit of doing that ... so moving on ...

We also found this guy - beautifully hidden in the rain-forest. Just look at how the colours and patterns on the animals fur blend with the bark, leaves and lichen.

Green ringtail possum (Pseudochirops archeri)

And finally, just to completely blow my tiny mind. A monatrem. The maddeningly elusive (not to mention camera shy), platypus.

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Okay, so not the best pic. Believe me, I could go into a whole spiel about camera settings, and that I wasn't expecting it and how, actually - it's all Trump's fault ...

But I've spieled enough for one post. I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have observed this ancient mammal as it industriously paddled around its home. And without question, we will be revisiting this animal down the track ...

The male platypus has two 'seasonally' active venomous spurs on its hindlegs. It's thought that they use these in combat with rival males.

However, I wonder if they may be a residual defensive weapon against predators that are now extinct, as Australia's other monatrem, the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) also has spurs (although there doesn't appear to be any venom gland associated with them any longer). Of course if this was the case why doesn't the female also have such spurs? ... and perhaps more importantly, why seasonal?.

Another groovy little wildlife mystery eh?.

Okay, well - it's mid afternoon, which at the moment for me means it's time for a nap (it's all just a bit bloody ridiculous ...) but what can ya do? so - 'till next time, take care - Paul.

Marsupials are any members of the mammalian infraclass Marsupialia. All extant marsupials are endemic to Australasia and the Americas. A distinctive characteristic common to these species is that most of the young are carried in a pouch. Well-known marsupials include kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, possums, opossums, wombats, Tasmanian devils, and the recently extinct thylacines. Others include the numbat, the bandicoot, the bettong, the bilby, the quoll, and the quokka.

Marsupials represent the clade originating from the last common ancestor of extant metatherians. Like other mammals in the Metatheria, they give birth to relatively undeveloped young that often reside with the mother in a pouch, for a certain amount of time. Close to 70% of the 334 extant species occur on the Australian continent (the mainland, Tasmania, New Guinea and nearby islands). The remaining 100 are found in the Americas — primarily in South America, but thirteen in Central America, and one in North America, north of Mexico ^