Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blanchard's Cricket Frog

A tiny Blanchard's cricket frog, Acris crepitans blanchardi, in a rare state of repose. Last Saturday, I was down in Warren County in southwestern Ohio to speak at the 101 Alternatives to the Chalkboard Educator's Conference. This long-running event has been held at the YMCA's Camp Kern for nearly 30 years, and it was a privilege to be a part of it.

Camp Kern sprawls over 485 acres, and the habitats are varied and rich in flora and fauna. In between talks, we found time for a bit of exploring, and our course took us by a large pond. Ambling along the pond's margins, I noticed several miniature frogs leaping from our path with the agility of leopard frogs. Cricket frogs! I alerted my fellow explorers and we launched into the hunt, determined to net one for closer viewing.

When flushed, Blanchard's cricket frogs usually make for the water, pronto. Once there, though, they often quickly surface and stare back at the offender as this one is doing. With a little quick net work, it wasn't long before we had bagged one for inspection.

Possibly a face only a mother, or herpetologist, could love but I find that these wee amphibians have their charms. One might be forgiven for thinking them to be "baby" toads, as warty as they are. Small they are, too: an adult cricket frog might only measure an inch, and an inch-and-a-halfer is a true behemoth in the cricket frog world.

Blanchard's cricket frogs are said to be declining in many areas, but I still find them common in much of western Ohio. The pond where I made these photographs had scads of them. Cricket frogs are the last of our frogs to begin vocalizing, often not firing up the vocal chords until well into May. They make a sound similar to two pebbles being tapped rapidly together, and if there are lots of frogs, the collective clicking creates a symphonic cacophony of clacks. Sorry about that last sentence.

Anyway, should you find yourself along the sparsely vegetated verges of ponds, lakes, or streams, keep an eye peeled for these tiny jumpers.


1 comment:

Matthew Studebaker said...

I love your posts Jim.