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Culpeper Times • May 25-31, 2017


The treefrogs are calling, and I must go

Much of the spring, I have felt like a private eye specializing in divorce cases — stalking animals, camera in hand, to try to catch them in flagrante delicto. One evening last week, it was the calling of gray treefrogs that put me on the hunt for mating herps once again. I had heard the slow, deep trills of at least two treefrogs calling, so I grabbed my camera, cell phone and a flashlight and walked down the hill from my house toward the garage. With the recent deluge of rain and the direction of the calls, I was pretty sure the frogs were breeding in my landlord’s small fishing boat down there, which had collected water in its bow. It was a warm night, with the humidity rising, a sign of temps also on the rise, reaching the 90s by mid-week. A slight breeze carried the perfume


of blooming blackberry, Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose. The light was almost gone by the time I reached the boat. As I crept up to it, the calling stopped. Shining my flashlight around inside, I saw a gray treefrog, about two inches long, sitting quietly on some plywood at the bottom, near the water-filled bow. I took a few shots in the dark, trying to hold my flashlight on the frog while focusing my camera, which did not result in the best shots. I stepped back, listening in the growing darkness for the two sets of calls to start again, to try to pinpoint the other frog’s location, recording the calls with an app on my phone. When the calls restarted, I checked the boat again, finding the frog I had photographed was now sitting in the water at the shallow edge of the water. Although I could see the air sac around in its throat fill and empty, no sound came out. This frog also looked a bit fat, and only males call, so could it have been a gravid (egg-filled) female instead? I finally determined that one of the frogs

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This Gray Treefrog called to Pam Owen one night, where she found it and another hiding in her landlord's boat. There are two species of treefrog in Virginia that are gray, Hyla versiclor and Hyle chrysoscelis.


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May 25th, 2017 -- Culpeper Times  

May 25th, 2017 -- Culpeper Times