Toad in the Hole
July 10, 2005
Eyes Above the Fold
Man, I should really stop reading political blogs first. I followed a link from Chris' place and just got too depressed to write.
Joe and I took a flying leap to Point Reyes on Friday, just to get away. We didn't see the northern parula warbler pair that's supposed to be nesting in the big California bay laurel at Bear Valley HQ, but a couple of others there did. WTH, it wasn't a lifer; we pressed on.
Stopped at a freshwater pond waaaay out on the Point, where a couple of friends had been seeing all kinds of rails. And we did see one, a young sora. Also a couple kinds of dragonflies -- flame skimmer, and some sort of big blue mosaic darner -- darting all around and mating. Also a bumblebee working the cobweb thistles, which I managed to photograph. Goldfinches: a male American gf doing that merry-go-round display flight, singing "potato chip, potato chip" all the way. Wrentits, blackbirds, yellowthroat, song and white-crowned sparrows, vultures, redtails, a male harrier -- the usuals, and a pleasant lot they are.
But the best thing was frogs. We started seeing little bubble-eyes, then triangular noses above the pond's surface. Most of the frogs attached to those were small, and we were seeing distinct lateral ridges, not much in the way of tympani, and yellowish undersides when we could see them, on a brown splotchy frog with a good tailor -- the bands on the hindlegs came together to form longer bands when the legs were folded. (I'm trying to visualize how that works developmentally.) The small ones were a couple of inches nose-to-tail; there was one big guy, 4 to 5 inches long.
Not bullfrogs. Grabbed the fieldguide when we got home, to be certain, and yes those were red-legged frogs, the rare and endangered sort. (You see the red when they leap, on the back surface of the hind legs.) We may have seen them before, but this was the first time we'd recognized them.
There must have been at least 20 of the little boogers, too; they kept appearing in the water, as we stood there quietly looking. Not bad for a slimy cowpond.
I hope they're not cannibals... Uh-oh, do rails eat frogs? I do know the egrets and herons that we've seen there do. Keep your heads down, little guys!