This past Monday morning, I finally got a response to my frog calling down at the Creek. I’ve been doing this frog calling periodically since mid-May, but the first answer that I’ve gotten back this year was on July 1.
There’s a colony of rare little frogs living in the wetlands of the abandoned stream meander just west of our house. Two years ago they were identified by a couple of scientists—one is a member of our family and the other works for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These two guys were excited because cricket frogs hadn’t been documented in the state since the 1980s and now there are several known occurrences. Herpetologists have been tracking their movement up from southern Iowa for a number of years. Now this colony was established on Kanaranzi Creek about a quarter mile from the state line.
But, what’s most interesting to me is the way that we do the frog calling. This is a picture of my equipment to call cricket frogs. They make a noise that sounds like two rocks clicking together and they’ll answer in response if they hear that call. How cool is that? A retired geologist gets to call cricket frogs by hitting two rocks together! Seriously! That’s how the professionals do it! By the way, the white rock used as the strike plate is limestone and the black one is basalt. Only a geologist would care. Any two rocks will work.
The cricket frogs’ response to this rock-banging call was late this year. In 2017 it was first heard June 11 and in 2018 it was May 24. Another DNR staff person monitoring this area told me that she heard from colleagues in Wisconsin that the cricket frogs were late there too. Maybe the cool, wet spring influenced that late start. We had three days of temperatures over 90 degrees before I heard them on Monday morning.
This is what these little guys look like. There’s another picture and some more description of the “oxbow” that is their home in the April 13 post titled Snow at the Creek. And here’s a link to a YouTube video that includes their call. Beware, it’s not the initial buzz that you hear; it’s the later clicking “rock song”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGeDWb7O5wE
Cricket frogs are a part of an assemblage of species, including Topeka Shiners and Blanding’s Turtles, found in patches of prairie included within working landscapes. I’m grateful to know that these native animals are doing well, living in the modern agriculture-dominated setting.