– Anke Maria Hoefer
Frog Watch Coordinator
While many activities are on hold at the moment, we still have plenty of options to keep ourselves busy and engaged. A great way of getting active is a walk – on your own or with a walking buddy keeping an appropriate distance – to your local wetland or creek. With a bit of luck, you will hear some frogs calling in their desire to find a mate, triggered by the recent rains. Many different frog species call Gungahlin their home and the Mulligans Flat area and the Forde Wetland are amongst the frog-hotspots in Canberra. Most other wetlands, ponds, dams and the beautiful Ginninderra Creek provide important habitat for our local frogs, which is much needed to support these amazing animals.
Similar to the human COV-19 Pandemic, frogs are threatened globally by a fungal skin disease, called chytridiomycosis, or chytrid fungus for short. In Australia alone, over 40 frog species have significantly declined over the past decades and 13 species have become extinct or are almost extinct. Scientists all around the world are studying the impact of the chytrid fungus and potential mitigation processes.
We as a community can help as well by minimizing any additional threats to our local frogs, creating and protecting good frog-habitat, and admiring these creatures from afar. Spotting a frog is not an easy task as they are mostly nocturnal = active at night, and very well camouflaged. However, hearing a frog is much easier, especially after dark, and can be done by anyone. And it is getting even better: each frog species has a different call! So, by learning the calls of your local frogs you will be able to identify the frogs that live in your local wetland/creek.
Now is the perfect time to get started. With the arrival of cooler temperatures and shorter days, the frog activities are winding down for winter, only to get back into full swing in late winter/early spring.
In the ACT we have only two frog species that call during the cold winter months .
1. the Common Eastern froglet (Crinia signifera), which sounds like crick-crick-crick, sometimes described as a ratchet, and
2. the Whistling Tree Frog (Litoria verreauxii) with its series of whistling sounds weeeee-weeeee-weeeee.
Once the warmer days return, one species after the other will re-emerge and start calling. When things are in full swing you might be able to hear up to eight species calling at a pond. We shall introduce these to you in due time.
The FrogWatch Program, run by the Ginninderra Catchment Group, teaches people how to identify frog species and how to help monitor these awesome creatures. The program runs an annual October FrogCensus across the Capital Region.
If you would like to become a FrogWatcher, please contact Anke Maria, the Frogwatch Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org, 62783309)