Ideal time for frog-watching and recording

By John Lewis

The Shepparton region has three major species of frogs — each with its own distinct call.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority Land, Biodiversity and Indigenous program manager Steve Wilson said now was the best time of year to get out and about for a spot of frog-watching, and recording.

‘‘Reedy Swamp is absolutely cooking at the moment — environmental water has gone through that area, creating really good conditions. It’s been dry but now we’ve had rain and numbers are up,’’ Mr Wilson said.

He said the three most common frog species in the area were the Eastern Banjo or pobblebonk frog, the Spotted Marsh frog and Peron’s Tree Frog.

The pobblebonk has a distinctive ‘‘buh-bonk’’ call.

The Spotted Marsh calls with a ‘‘cuk-cuk’’ sound.

The Perins Tree Frog can be recognised with an ‘‘ah-ah’’ sound.

Mr Wilson said each frog could filter out the calls of other species to hone in on the sound of their own species.

‘‘Frogs are programmed to just hear their own particular call. It’s in their DNA,’’ he said.

Mr Wilson said there were also other smaller frogs in the area such as the common froglet which called with a repeated ‘‘crick-crick’’ sound, and the common spadefoot frog which made a repeated ‘‘aw-aw’’ sound.

He said the rarest frog in our area was the bright green Growling Grass Frog which gave a long croaking ‘‘crawark-crok’’ sound.

‘‘We haven’t seen or heard these for years,’’ he said.

He said females of the species could be quite large — anywhere between 60mm and 100mm across.

He said if anyone heard or saw a Growling Grass Frog they should contact the GBCMA and researchers would check out the area.

He said frogs could live through drought conditions by burrowing under the ground and remaining dormant for a long time.

‘‘They can hang around and wait for rain. They shut down their systems — they can even re-constitute their urine and wait for years,’’ he said.

He said frogs were a vital part of our local ecology.

‘‘They are part of the natural food chain — a prey animal eaten by birds and snakes, and they are also predators, eating insects and other small animals,’’ he said.

He said frogs were also useful measures of air quality and a clean environment.

‘‘Seventy per cent of their respiration is through the skin, they are really good environmental indicators,’’ he said.

The GBCMA has also developed its own app that can help identify fish, frogs, birds and reptiles found within the catchment.

The iSpy Catchment Creatures app allows anyone to record a sound, take a photo and map where the species was sighted.

The app can be downloaded free from Apple and Android stores for your smartphone.