Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Baby Burrowers


If you think this looks like nothing more than a pile of wet leaves, then you’re right! And what could be interesting about a this? Well, the secret lies beneath...

Today I was helping my mum in the garden by shovelling piles of leaves out from the drain that runs down the side of our property. These, along with much soil and sediment, had accumulated after recent ‘flash floods’ in the Perth Hills. Leaves, rocks and sticks are actually important to remain in drains and creek beds to help control the flow of water and minimise erosion, but when a massive build up occurs, this can do more damage by acting like a dam, causing excess flooding once winter creeks begin to flow. Land management is always about finding the right balance!

After moving a few wheel-barrow loads of leaves out of the drain, I was scraping the last pile together from the now very moist layer at the bottom of the ditch. Even throughout the baking days of summer, which have sometimes exceeded 40˚C, there was moisture here. Then something moved. I looked carefully but struggled to spot anything. I ran my hand across the ground again and a tiny creature hopped. A frog! It was so well camouflaged amongst the leaf-litter and gravel, but its movement had given it away.


 As I picked it up I realised it was a tiny, newly-metamorphosed Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dorsalis). At the end of Kambarang (late Spring) 2011, this animal would have emerged from its tadpole state in the dwindling pools of the creek. Before all water dried up, it, along with many other froglets and adult frogs, sought out a cool, damp place in which to spend the summer. Sometimes in wet soil nearly a foot below the surface. Occasional damp nights would bring the creatures out to forage for insects, but they would quickly retreat to their damp hidey-holes before the heat of day.

I searched the leaf-litter in front of me and found two other tiny frogs, probably from the same brood as the first one. Removed from their camouflaged home, you can see their beautiful markings. After a quick photo and a ‘show-and-tell’ to my family, I found a new pile of damp leaves on the creek bank and buried them under it. Here they will stay, patiently waiting for the soothing rains of Djeran (Autumn) to wet the landscape. Adults of this species will look forward to the soaking Makaru (winter) rains, when they spread throughout the livened waterways to find suitable breeding sites. From here they emit their loud ‘Booonk’ calls, like the strum of a Banjo, which gives them their name. For more information about Banjo Frogs, read my other news story here, or visit the Frogs of Australia website at  http://frogs.org.au/
 

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