23 March, 2011

Spring is officially here!

Yes, yes, the temperatures have been getting steadily warmer for weeks and the bulbs we planted last fall have put up actual leaves and might decide to do flowers some day, and the first official day of spring has already passed. But as I know from growing up in northern Illinois, the official first day of spring often has nothing whatsoever to do with actual spring.

Actual spring, however, has sprung. Or to be more accurate, it has peeped! That’s right, the Spring Peepers are calling! And you can click right over there to the Virginia Herpetological Society page and hear them. Right now they’re not yet up to the “hundreds of frogs” level of calls, but there’s more than one of the plaintive little buggers out there peeping his little amphibious heart out.

I really love the frog calls that I get to hear here at the Manor. We also get the Gray Treefrog here, the Hyla versicolor one, and if you click over to VHS page for Hyla versicolor you can get an idea of what my back yard sounds like in the spring since they managed to capture peepers on that same recording. And we get the Upland Chorus Frog, who comes out earlier than the other two to make querulous creaking noises in huge numbers.

Screw the calendar, it’s not spring until the little frogs sing.

26 March, 2010

It’s the little things, part 2: Amphibious Edition

Spring has definitely sprung, despite today’s cold nasty weather and the prediction of a light freeze tonight. I know this because the frogs have been chorusing like nobody’s business lately. My neighbor has 60 acres and a couple ponds, and with all the rain we’ve had there’s a bunch of ephemeral puddles and things around which the wee amphibians gather and sing their little hearts out.

I of course have no pictures of them in their adorableness, because the minute you try to sneak up on a frog, it stops singing and becomes invisible. Actually, the Gray Treefrogs are pretty well invisible already when they hang out on trees.

At any rate, in the dark of the morning when I go to work, the Spring Peepers are peeping. You can hear them over at that link, and they are totally hilarious, because when there’s only a few Peepers, they are plaintive and lonely-sounding frogs: peep? peep? But let a few other Peepers move into the area and they become more and more emphatic until suddenly a resounding round of “PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!” is sounding through the woods.

Later in the morning, the Upland Chorus Frogs and Gray Treefrogs start chiming in. Their calls have a similar sound, except that the Upland Chorus Frogs are interrogative, and the Gray Treefrogs are more declarative. Once they start in, it’s nothing but “Rrrrrrt? Rrrrrrrt? Rrrrrrt. Rrrrrrrt.” until the sun gets high enough to send them under cover.

At the end of the day, the frogs reverse their choruses, with the Upland Chorus Frogs and the Gray Treefrogs beginning their songs early in the evening, ceding to the Spring Peepers a little before the bats come out to swoop up bugs. The Peepers then carry us all into nightfall before tucking themselves in. They do get up early, you know.