Our dry September is over. October started the same way but has finished with two big rainfall weeks, of about 40mm each. The first big rain was enough to bring calls from the pobblebonk and spotted marsh frogs at the pond. Curiously, no calls from the dam. Compared to other times when we've had big rainfall events, the dam has been very quiet. Only tonight, after the second big event, have I heard a spotted marsh frog calling from the dam.
The dam is very different this year. Last year it was an irregularly irrigated grassland. This year it's been a proper dam, and the greywater is growing grass in the dam next door. The shallowest the water has become is probably about 30cm, and it is about double that again now. There is abundant insect life on the water, but much less dead plant material, and shelter in and around the water. There is heaps of shelter around the dam itself though. It's difficult to understand why there seems to be so much less frog activity (as measured by calls) this year. Maybe they're all just out and about and busy.
Other things we've noticed - our sparrows have disappeared. Could it be the mouse bait? And we've had three wild ducks spend some time on the pond and dam, although I haven't seen them in the last fortnight. There are some great owl noises some nights. I'll have to sneak out one day and follow them and see if they are really owls! 2010 has been a really different year.
It keeps raining and the frogs are happy. Today the pond spotted marsh frog is calling in the middle of the day. I just hope he doesn't attract the ducks!
It stopped raining for a while here and all went quiet with the frogs. In the last week we've had 16mm and it's raining again now. Since the rain started, we've been hearing the Mallee Spadefoot Toad calling again (currently other species are quiet). The same thing happened last year. The district will be alive with them in a few nights time!
Since taking the greywater out of the dam it's become quite clear - enough that it's possible to see the dam weed at the bottom. The level has gone down quite a bit because the weather has been so warm and dry, but there's still plenty there. Another reliable catchment dam has remained full of water this year despite the heat. Amazing season!
There has always been a family of Western Grey Kangaroos (think that's the right thing to call them) hopping up and down our road, about 500m from the dam, but they've rarely been close to the houses. In the last month I've seen tracks in our front paddock, and in the last week have had to give way to them a couple of times as they hopped away from the dam (I guess they're drinking from it and not the greywater!). It's good to see them around - I hope the dam stays wet and we continue to see them.
Yesterday we had a gentle 5mm, on top of 20+mm earlier in the week. There has been another decent rainfall between this and the last time I wrote (mid Feb). This seems like the wettest summer/autumn for years, although I think 2004/5 and 1999/2000 were similar.
The frogs have been loving it. The runoff dam is as full as I've seen it and will probably keep a decent depth of water throughout the winter, even if it's dry. Today I took the greywater out of that dam, and I'm going to run it into another dam and see if we can get some things happening there. I don't think the nutrients are good for the dam with water in it - it was getting some scum on it before it rained - and the vegetation at the edge (which could use the nutrients) keeps getting drowned.
The frogs have been going crazy the last couple of nights, mostly spotted marsh frog calls. This morning there were three egg masses on the pond, and at least four egg masses just on one side of the dam. There may have been more but it's a bit slippery to go walking around too much. Looking at the dam there is plenty of tadpole activity, and there have been many dragonflies too. There are also locusts around in the paddocks near the dam but none actually around it, as far as I can see. They would be good frog feed!!!
The frogs also seem to have the mosquitoes under control. It hasn't been too bad outside, but they are definitely around. Probably more with water collecting on old machinery etc. rather than the pond or dam.
Today we had 28.5mm rain in several thunderstorms, and the frogs in the dam must be in heaven. Accordingly I heard a couple of Mallee Spadefoot Toads calling tonight. I imagine there's a fair bit of water back in the dam now and they will be busy.
A few days ago I went down there and pulled out a cumbungi plant that I'd missed. Interesting that it hadn't really spread as much as the others had - perhaps because it's been a bit cooler? I am very hopeful that the cumbungi might be gone for the moment. There has been no sign of it coming back in either dam or pond.
The other big frog action - in the last post I mentioned plenty of calling from the pond - on Feb 6 there were three egg masses down there. The frogs in the pond have since quietened down. That pond must be thoroughly over-populated now! Tadpoles everywhere. Food for the frogs I suppose. When I was wandering around in the dam the other day I only saw one big fat black tadpole. The water has been fairly shallow there - it might all change now.
We've also had plenty of cockatiels in the last month.
About a week after the first 35mm, we had another 45mm over a couple of days. That caused some grain damage, but has created frog heaven. The dam has been as full as I've ever seen it (after rain) - at least 60cm of water with most of the winter vegetation submerged.
Frogs have been calling crazily each night since then, mostly the Pobblebonk and Spotted Marsh Frogs, although we did hear some Spadefoot calls early on. They can be heard kilometres away. A real audio beacon for other frogs. There have been few calls from the pond (maybe I just can't hear them!). I haven't had a look for a week but when I went down to the dam this morning there were at least three egg masses, all on the eastern side of the dam. The water will be thick with tadpoles soon.
Between April 24 and April 27 we had 25mm of rain here! After getting excited about 5mm, we were overjoyed with 25. We thought the frogs would be too, but they haven't called at all. It could be that my daughter's pet ducks got to the pond again, for a little while, and they are just laying low.
According to Frogs of Australia's entry on the spotted marsh frog , the spotted marsh frogs should be calling through till May and then having a quiet winter in June and July. Maybe they've just started the quiet winter early.
After what seems to have been a very hot summer, it rained on Tuesday and Wednesday. It has cooled down quite a bit too, to low 20s. The rain was only a couple of millimetres, but enough for the frogs. The spotted marsh frog (only one that I could hear) from the pond was calling early evening, in the middle of the night, and even at 7am! It is calling again this evening - lovely to hear it back again (and reassuring to know that it wasn't eaten by the ducks).
The ducks have had their flight feathers clipped and have been confined to the orchard since they got into the pond. It is looking much better!
Harvest was a bit distracting, but plenty happened in the world of the frogs. It rained! Something like 75mm, the first lot (about 25mm) on Dec. 13. Not that good for harvest and the frogs were quiet for the first few nights - first calls heard on Dec. 15. Then we heard some more nights of calls, but not for long. The nights are pretty dry in summer (as we've discovered when spraying) and it mustn't be such good weather for frogs to call, even if it has rained recently. All calls came from the pond (the dam was essentially dry).
I gave away my baby frogs (from the back verandah) - to Jon Starks, who installed the pond. I hope they're still alive Jon! It will be interesting to see what they've grown into.
Finally, on New Year's Eve, we had some kids visiting and they were able to catch some of the pond frogs - which looked like little spotted marsh frogs. That was exciting.
Since the float valve was set up, the pond has been pretty full and has been looking good.
We had 17mm rain yesterday, no frog calls beforehand and I was wondering whether we might hear anything afterwards. Nothing last night (that I heard). Tonight, the pobblebonk is calling but most exciting is that he's calling from the pond. We've only previously heard the pobblebonk in the dam. So that's very exciting - we can now confirm two species of frogs in the pond!
On species, we have some variation among our tadpoles. The small ones have developed arms, but the bigger ones are yet to develop arms! I thought it might have worked the other way around. Either there is some serious variation among a generation of tadpoles, or there were in fact two generations of different species.
I made a recording of the pond pobblebonk in celebration. The full version is on the sounds page. The clip begins (I think) with the frog jumping into the water. There are then progressively louder calls.