So it was a loud night, and we have been waiting for it for almost three months. Waiting for it, because the Louisiana Amphibian Monitoring Program is trying to monitor the populations of frogs in Louisiana, together with many other states that are concerned about the same thing – declining amphibians worldwide. The volunteer surveyors do night surveys three times a year to put data together that will soon be able to describe what exists now in Louisiana – in terms of baseline numbers. Without that it would be impossible to tell if the numbers are going up, or down, over time. So, that’s why we welcome the loud nights, and why we hope not too many people object to them. One day these frogs could warn us of environmental issues before those issues become harmful to humans – much like the canaries do for coal miners, and if the frogs are declining they could be warning us already and we can't tell.
Friday night much of Louisiana received considerable rain. Here in Butte La Rose we got almost four inches in about three hours. That more than doubled what we had received since the beginning of the year, and together with the couple inches we got last week the frog frenzy was set to begin. And it did. Sunday night Dugan and I ran the Bayou Sorrel survey route and heard many thousands of frogs calling all over the woods, bayous, ditches and even roadside puddles. The survey considers a Code 3 chorus to be so many frogs that you can’t hear any individuals, just the wall of sound they make, and there were many Code 3’s Sunday night. It was awesome! But that’s not all. When I got home about 11:30 pm, the small, shallow borrow pits along the levee on highway 3177 had literally come alive. Certain species of frogs are “supposed” to breed in the winter months, and others in the spring and others in the summer. Well, they forgot about the dates and all came together in the same pools to breed at the same time – 11 species all calling together at once. Think what that would do to a backyard pool next to a bedroom window. Just for the fun of it I will list all the frogs that were calling from the little borrow pits: northern chorus frog; spring peeper; southern leopard frog (these are the three “winter” species); then, bronze frog (top); green treefrog; squirrel treefrog (above right); gray treefrog; Fowler’s toad; Gulf Coast toad (left); cricket frog; and narrowmouth toad. All of these together at high volume and high numbers. What a glorious thing to hear, although some folks might have wanted earplugs. Now, we will hope there is enough subsequent rain to sustain enough water in the borrow pits long enough for the tadpoles to mature and grow into next year’s frogs.
A short bird note: the first young yellow-billed cuckoo was out of the nest and looking to momma for food two days ago. That's sure wasting no time migrating here, building a nest, laying eggs, incubating them and raising young by May 1!
The river is at 7.9 on the Butte La Rose gauge and will stay there for several days. The Ohio and Mississippi are not doing anything to cause a rise any time soon. The manager of the hydroelectric plant told me this morning that the Mississippi river temperature is up to 68 degrees F, which means it warming up pretty fast. Warmer water is not what we want in rising water because it carries less oxygen and could do more harm than good if it gets back into the swamp. But, not much likelihood of that this year, it seems.
Rise and Shine, Jim