Green Frog (Rana clamitans)
My little friend on the rocks near the beaver pond is a true frog with a distinct tympanum (the round bronze spot on the side of the head). A hearing device, the tympanum transmits sound waves to froggy's inner ear, protecting it (the inner ear, that is) from water and floating debris. The prominent dorsolateral ridges down the back identify our lad as a green frog and not a bullfrog, similar in appearance, but bigger and lacking any dorsal ridges. Above the upper lip is a band of vibrant green, and the bright yellow throat below identifies this specimen as being male.
I don't mind admitting that I've always had a "thing" about frogs, particularly this species. They look like cloisonné jewelry to me, and I love their dear little faces and cheerful expressions, their lustrous gold and black eyes and delicately webbed toes, their way of seeming quiet, at ease and completely attentive wherever they happen to be in the world. Frogs' legs will never appear on the menu here.
Their deep resonant twanging "gronk" in springtime is cheerful and a sure sign that warmer times are on their way - one of my favorite amphibian resources describes it as being like the vibration of a loose banjo string. The pond musics are happy stuff, and they continue blithely well into midsummer and the end of the froggy mating season. Obviously the virtuoso vocal performances are being given to attract mates.
Once fertilized, clutches of eggs are secured to strands of underwater vegetation, and because of the long breeding season and extended larval stage, tadpoles normally overwinter in the ponds of their infancy before morphing into adults the following summer - both tadpoles and tiny adult "greenies" can be found in wild waters all through spring and summer. Small adult frogs are particularly fond of lily pads, and I've spent many an hour with younger members of my family looking at them through the eye of my camera or binoculars. There is always much "oohing and ahhing" when we return home and download the images from our outing into the computer.
It gos without saying that our own tadpoles have reams and skeins and clutches of questions about the life of frogs... It's another field of study for the coming winter, and looking at the list compiled so far this year, I will need at least another century to cover everything.