As I have mentioned in previous posts there are still frogs calling this time of year in Melbourne, such as Common Froglets, Southern Brown Tree Frogs, Victorian Smooth Froglets and Brood Frogs. Come spring and summer, more species start to call as the weather warms up. If you are out and about during the day or night and you hear frogs calling - how do you figure out what species of frog it is, and what should you do with that information? To answer the first question have a look at these apps below, they are Frogs of Australia ($24.99 on App store); Museum Victoria Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (free on App store); Ecolinc Flora and Fauna Guide (free on App store); and Australian Museum Frogs Field Guide (free on Aust. Museum website/app store). They all have great information about frogs and also have a recording of each species call.
So, to answer the second question - what to do with this information? Well there is a great citizen science project called the Frog Census run by Melbourne Water, see link HERE. The data informs Melbourne Water's planning and decision making on waterway health and will be added to the CSIRO's Atlas of Living Australia to share biodiversity knowledge about endangered species. You record your calling frog(s) and send the data into Melbourne Water - simple hey! It's also a great way to get kids excited about being out in nature and contributing to science. Who knows... you may find a new population of a species that hasn't been recorded before!
There are also other programs in N.S.W. (F.A.T.S) and Frogwatch ins S.A.
If you are looking for some adventure and are happy to travel a bit and spend the day out of Melbourne for a nature exploration day... then Yea Wetlands is for you! The Yea Wetlands is home to many species of native mammals, frogs, reptiles, insects and birds.
There is a lovely new discovery centre and walks through the Yea wetlands. http://www.ywatercentre.com.au/
This is a great time to hear Victorian Smooth Froglets calling, and also catch lots of small woodland birds darting to and fro, like the Grey Fantail, White-browed Scrubwren and Brown Thornbills.
The main walk is flat and easy, with much of it on a boardwalk. There are lots of great interpretive signs along the way too. Its a lovely spot to relax and enjoy the tranquillity and sounds of the bush.
Looking for more outdoor adventures... go to Active in Parks website, you will find the link on our Links Page.
According to the AmphibiaWeb database there are currently 6,644 frogs and toads in the world. The variety of frogs is astonishing!
The largest frog recorded is the Goliath Frog, growing to 3 kilograms! It is found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea in Africa. Unfortunately, these big guys are endangered due to habitat loss and over-collection for the food and pet trade (Photo: . https://au.pinterest.com/pin/330310953892352940/)
On the other end of the spectrum, here is a photo of the smallest frog Paedophryne amauensis recorded so far. They are the smallest vertebrate animal recorded (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/01/120111-smallest-frogs-vertebrates-new-species-science-animals/). They are tiny - about 7.7 mm long - and seem to live solely amid leaf litter on New Guinea's rain forest floor. These little guys have adapted to eat very small insects like mites and camouflage well in the leaf litter.
Our Save the Frogs day event today was a great success! We had 28 children and adults participate in the day. Everyone learnt something new about frogs, how fascinating and important they are to us, that unfortunately some of them are endangered... but there is always something we can all do to Save the Frogs! After a very animated presentation from me on all things froggy, we headed to Millers Pond at Currawong Bush Park to listen for frogs, have a look and learn about how people can take part in the Melbourne Water Frog Census and spent some lovely time outdoors in the bush. No little froggies to find today.... but the kids still had fun exploring the 'quicksand' mud around the pond and running around in the bush!
Then it was an art and craft frog frenzy... we had Save the Frogs badges to make, mosaic frogs, origami jumping frogs, frog on a peg, colouring in and lots of lovely books and other resources to look at.
We also raised some money to go towards frog conservation projects run by Zoo's Victoria - a huge thank you to all the parents who donated and for coming today to make our Save the Frogs Day so special.
Another BIG thank you to Manningham City Council for hosting today!
Tomorrow is Save the Frogs Day - Saturday 30 April! Save the Frogs Day was conceived and is coordinated by SAVE THE FROGS!
Save The Frogs Day is the world's largest day of amphibian education and conservation action. "The goal is to provide people with educational materials, ideas and inspiration and empower them to educate their local communities about amphibians." (Kerry Kriger, Save the Frogs Founder)
Leap into Nature is hosting the only Save the Frogs Day event in Australia!
We are heading to Currawong Bush Park in Doncaster East thanks to Manningham City Council with 24+ participants to do a photo presentation and talk about the different frogs found in Manningham, as well as showcasing a few rare and endangered species found in Victoria and beyond. We will also talk about why frogs are so fantastic, why they need our help and how everybody can help Save the Frogs! We will do a walk to the pond to learn more about frog habitat and listen for some calls, Children will also take part in a variety of art and craft froggy projects.We have lots of fantastic give-aways too from Melbourne Water and Zoos Victoria!
While autumn is a time many of our frogs go quiet over the cooler months, their are still a few species that take advantage of this quietness and breed quite happily in autumn and winter, like the Common Froglet, Southern Brown Tree Frog, Victorian Smooth Froglet and Brood Frogs.
We will provide a special post from our Save the Frogs Day after tomorrow... stay tuned!
'Woodlands Historic Park is a great spot to visit if you live in the west, or north west of Melbourne, but it really isn't that far from Melbourne's CBD, so worth the drive as well. Woodlands Historic Park is managed by Parks Victoria and is located, just north of Tullamarine Airport. You can gain access to what is called the 'Back Paddock' from Providence Road, which comes off Mickelham Road in Greenvale. Best to check maps here: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/315824/Park-note-Woodlands-Historic-Park.pdf
It is a lovely walk in along wide flat gravel tracks where you are likely to see Eastern Grey Kangaroos and hear lots of different woodland birds calling. Look out for Echidna diggings too and a tree that is fantastically curled over - great spot for a photo and a climb!
You will come to a gate to the Conservation Reserve. This is a great place to roam, wonder, climb and enjoy nature. This is also a reserve where the Eastern Barred Bandicoot has been reintroduced and is doing really well. The bandicoots are protected by a predator proof fence. Check out the info. board there on your way in. While you probably won't see a bandicoot as they are nocturnal, you can look for traces of them... get your kids to be wildlife detectives and look out for conical shaped bandicoot diggings (see photo). They are actually very easy to spot and this will tell you how much activity and foraging was going on over the last few days.
There are lots of lovely native grasses, large old 'skeleton' trees with lots of hollows for parrots and lorikeets and logs for children to climb and explore.
Good spot for a bike ride too. Always remember to check your maps, wear appropriate clothing for the bush, carry water, snacks, first aid kit and check the weather before you set out.
Howdy Bush Trackers!
Why not get out this long weekend and explore the bush..? A lovely little pocket of nature in suburbia is Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. Blackburn Lake Sanctuary is one of the few significant remaining natural bushland reserves in Melbourne and the best-known bushland park in the City of Whitehorse. The entrance is located on Central Road in Blackburn. Very easy walking, with tracks suitable for prams or nice and flat for walking with babies in a carrier. You will traverse through some lovely bushland with many different birds to tune your ears in to. There are ponds to listen for frog choruses - yes some frogs do call in winter and during the day!
You will come across Blackburn Lake, which has a nice variety of waterbirds, like Pelicans, Cormorants, Pacific Black Ducks, Eurasian Coots and others you may see the odd turtle too!
The walk around the lake - also known as the Lakeside circuit - is a fair distance, but you can take a few short cuts to just do half the lake. See the website below for some maps and things to do. There is a Visitor Education Centre at the Sanctuary, check the website for activities and when they are open. There is a playground, toilets and picnic tables too.
Enjoy the fresh air, natural loose materials for your kids to enjoy and time together in nature.
Other activities happening outside can also be found here at the Active in Parks website: http://activeinparks.org/find-an-activity/
Hey Hey Happy Earth Day and Happy Froggy Friday! TGI Froggy Friday, that means the weekend is around the corner and its time to get out in the bush and have a listen for frogs. You can see our Bush Trackers Blog for an idea of where to go!
So, we know frogs call, why are they doing this? Well to get a mate of course. They sing lullaby's to their prospective partners - how romantic! They force air across their larynx (voicebox) and at the same time inflate a sac beneath their throat to amplify the sound. Some frogs have such a loud call you can hear them from a kilometre away.
So most of us will know that only the males call, but how do the girls find their man? Well they have good hearing for a start, sometimes their 'ears' are hidden behind skin, other times they are visible. The reason I wrote 'ear' is because they are not fleshy ears that stick out like ours, they are a circle of cartilage on the outside of the head just behind the eye. Its actually their eardrum and in frogs its called a tympanum. The fascinating thing is that frog's ears are designed to pick up calls from males of it's own kind only. They basically act like a mini radio tuned to a particular station - the station is the male of the species calling - essentially that's all they can 'hear'.
Frogs calling this time of year and especially after this good rain we have had are Common Froglets, Southern Brown Tree frog, Victorian Smooth Froglet and if you are lucky you can hear the Brood Frogs (Brown and Southern). Head over to this website https://frogs.org.au/frogs/of/Victoria/ to hear the sounds of some frogs, and get out there and have a listen. If you are not sure, record it on your smart phone and email it to me and I can identify it for you :-)
Photo: Eastern Dwarf Frog by Save the Frogs! Info check: 'It's true! Frogs are cannibals' (M. Tyler)
Exploring the bush within or just on the outskirts of Melbourne is a great thing to do with your family, in all sorts of weather, seasons and times of the day. Don't be afraid to venture out at night, many of Australian wildlife are nocturnal, so that's often when you get to see them - just check all your details of gate closures of car parks before you set out! Also always check weather warnings and bushfire warnings.
Currawong Bush Park is a real gem in Doncaster East, on Reynolds Road.
There are lots of natures loose parts, logs to hop over and balance on, and wildlife to discover.
Expect to find a nice variety of birds including Kookaburras, Crimson Rosella's, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Eastern Rosellas, Long-billed and Little Corella's and down near the creek where there is a bit more mid-storey vegetation you can hear Grey Fantails, Spotted Pardalotes, Brown Thornbills, Fan-talied Cuckoo and White-browed Scrubwrens. You can also find a resident mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, skinks darting around the tracks, snakes have also been recorded in the reserve (be alert not alarmed and never interfere or try and catch snakes). At night, you can find the kangaroos playing and foraging, Ringtail Possums and Brushtail Possums up in the acacias and eucalypts and if you have a really keen eye and are very lucky you may spot a Sugar Glider.
There are lots of large old trees which provide habitat for nesting birds and mammals. There is a pond as well where you may hear frogs (like Pobblebonks, Southern Brown Tree Frogs and Common Froglets) and see some waterbirds.
There is a steep hill down to the creek, a bit hard to do with a pram but not impossible. Check closing times of the main gate, there are toilet facilities, bbq's and picnic tables there too.
More information on walks around the park can be found in the link below.
It really is a lovely pocket of nature in suburbia that is worth a walk of discovery and exploration with your kids.
We will be holding our Save the Frogs Day here on 30 April 2016 in the afternoon with Manningham City Council.
Following on from the last couple of weeks of Froggy Friday posts, we will further explore ‘where frogs go’. So we know some frogs burrow, especially in the desert to avoid drying out. Well what about in cold or freezing habitats? The only place on earth frogs don’t occur is Antarctica, however, they do occur in alpine areas that become covered in snow in winter.
As we know, frogs are cold-blooded animals, which mean they can’t keep warm by themselves and they don’t have fur or feathers to trap heat. But some frogs have something else... anti-freeze! Just like the anti-freeze used in cars to stop water in car radiators from turning to ice. It’s called glucose or glycerine. The onset of freezing triggers a process where the liver produces high levels of glucose or glycerol that protects against freezing. Amazingly, as freezing progresses, breathing, heartbeat, and most other vital functions stop, but will start up again after a few hours of thawing.
Source: M. Tyler, ‘Frogs are Cannibals’; and Lane and Lee ‘Adaptations of frogs to survive freezing’ http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr/5/c005p053.pdf
The frog photo is of a well known freeze-tolerant frog the Wood Frog from north America. (Photo by: http://www.dogonews.com/2015/3/19/tiny-wood-frogs-survive-winter-by-partially-freezing-their-bodies)