The rain has washed away the stifling summer heat. Everything’s glistening and frogs are moving around, finding new habitat. The other day, as I walked along a quiet residential street in the Blue Mountains, I noticed a rather winsome frog sitting on the road. By lucky coincidence I had my camera with me.
If anyone was watching through their window I don’t know what they must have thought, but you can’t get a ground-level photo of a frog without lying flat on the ground.
The frog is Limnodynastes peronii, or Striped Marsh Frog, a common inhabitant of garden ponds, roadside ditches, creeks and farm dams throughout the east coastal region of Australia. If you’re in this area and live near water, you’ve probably heard them. Each male calls with a single …tok… repeated every few seconds; it sounds like a tennis ball being hit.
The Striped Marsh Frogs I’d seen before had very definite stripes on their back, and were smaller (this one was large — about 80mm). I know frog markings can vary a lot but even so, the blotchy pattern on this individual made me unsure of the ID, and it didn’t seem to fit anything else, either. So I tweeted my photos to the amazing Dr Jodi Rowley, amphibian expert at the Australian Museum. She confirmed the identification, adding: “She’s a female (thin arms) and possibly full of eggs!”
I never knew that bulging arm muscles can provide a clue when sexing frogs! It’s the males with the muscly arms, but female frogs are generally bigger, and they don’t call as the males do. Read more about how to tell the sex of frogs here.
Perhaps she was using the road to warm up and assist digestion, which might explain why she sat for a while and let me photograph her. Before I left I made sure she’d moved off, out of the way of cars. With luck she’ll find a safe pond in the suburban wilderness and deposit a frothy, floating mass of eggs.