Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gray Tree Frog - "Up, Up and Away!"

This jelly bean size Gray Tree Frog-let contemplates it's next jump while experiencing, for the first time, the rays of the morning sun.  24 hours earlier it had climbed out of the duckweed soup it was living in and became a full fledged lung breathing amphibian.

This is the fifth tree frog I have released and all truly know "what's up and what's down" making the release a true challenge.  Simply tilting the container up as if to pour the little critter onto a suitable leaf does not work. The frog just pivots, turns it's nose toward the sky and walks up the side of the container until it reaches the bottom. Turning the container open-side-up gets the frog to the lip of the container but as soon as I would tilt the container so the frog could step out onto the leaf again it was:
pivot, nose to sky, walk up the side to the bottom of the container.  I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me 5 frogs to figure out that the answer was to push the container, open end up, into the branches of the bush and let the tree frog figure out the rest. This all makes a great deal of sense when you consider that it IS a TREE FROG, spending its life above ground only coming down to earth to breed and lay eggs or overwinter in the leaf litter of the forest floor, then climbing back up into a tree or bush per their genetic programming. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Salamanders and Tree Frogs

The relatively warm temperatures of the past two days have the amphibians of the park on the move.
It has also given me the opportunity to release two Gray Tree Frogs (Hyla versicolor) that were given to me as tadpoles by a naturalist friend.  The tadpoles are now emerging as air breathing true frogs with only residual tails visible.

#2 climbed out of the water onto this piece of branch and spent several hours enjoying a breath of fresh air adorned in a couple pieces of duckweed.
Even at this stage of development it is capable of changing color to blend in with its surroundings. It looks stunning in "Duckweed Green".  Just before release it had climbed the glass sides of the aquarium waiting for me to remove the screen cover. It was having some difficulty getting it's sticky little toe pads from releasing from the glass.

Also enjoying the warm rain but putting itself in great peril was this Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) found on the concrete floor of the Maintenance Shop.  Blue Spotted Salamanders are members of the "Mole Salamander" group preferring to borrow into the soft rich soil on the forest floor.

This salamander is only about 3 inches long from nose to tail. That is approximately the length of the tail of the park's Tiger Salamander which can be seen daily at the Fox Island Co. Park Nature Center.
Photos by J. Ormiston

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Water quality testing of Cedar Creek, in Allen County, is always an interesting and enjoyable activity. This past Saturday we found an abundant variety of aquatic invertebrates while testing the chemical and biological properties of the creek at Metea County Park. Among the various mayfly, dragonfly, caddisfly, and damselfly nymphs we found several little non-parasitic flat worms known as Planaria (Planaria dorotocephala).  Planaria are solid bodied flat worms that have the unique ability to regenerate a complete worm if cut into smaller pieces.  A planaria that is cut longitudinally down the center line will generate two complete individuals.  When cut transversely each segment will regenerate a new individual. Planaria are very near the bottom of the food chain and feed on very small organisms or dead animal matter.  They move by means of cilia (small hairs) and a slime layer on their bottom surface and are not easy to photograph as they slime across a petri dish.

The eye-spots (ocelli) are light sensing organs which help the planaria to move away from light.
Being somewhat intolerant of pollution planaria are good indicators of water quality and are normally found in oxygenated rapidly moving streams.
Photos by J. Ormiston