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May 31, 2008

It had been a fairly warm day and I knew there was a good chance to see animals crossing the road at night, especially since it had rained a bit during the morning hours.  I headed out to a place where I knew there wasn't a lot of development.  The roads were pretty much gravel and the traffic was sparse.  I was immediately rewarded with my first animal, but I was surprised at what it was.  I occasionally see opossums and skunks out on the road, yet this was a mammal I had only seen one other time:  a coyote pup.

 

This little guy appeared to be alone and was scared of me at first.  Of course I totally understood because here this large metal object stops and proceeds to shine bright lights everywhere.  Then a tall animal comes forward with another light and gets kind of close.  S/he settled down after a minute and I actually got close enough to scratch the young pup.  I knew immediately that it wasn't a dog and chalked it up to another interesting sighting out on the road.  I just hope the little guy is able to fend for itself and grow up. 

 

I got back in the car and moved down the road where I found my first herp.  As expected the rain brought out the amphibians.  I was treated to a nice, plump dwarf American toad (Bufo americanus charlesmithi).

 

Next up on the road was a very calm southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala utricularia).  It sat still the entire time I shot photos and I had to shoo it off the road so I could drive past it.

 

The way you tell this leopard frog apart from the plains leopard frog (Rana blairi) is by the dorsolateral fold.  This is the white line that runs down each side of its body.  The southern leopard frog has a continuous line, whereas the plains leopard frog's folds have a break in them at the very end where they meet the leg.

 

I heard a couple of different frogs and toads calling, so I knew these guys were out there;  I just wasn't seeing them all on the road yet.  Finally I came across one of the stronger callers of the evening - Blanchard's cricket frog (Acris crepitans blanchardi).  Some people say their call sounds like two marbles being knocked together.

 

This next amphibian had me really taking a closer look at the field guide and also my photos.  I have deduced, however, that it's a Woodhouse's toad (Bufo woodhousii).  They look really similar to the dwarf American toad, so it's always good to study the few key features that separate them.

 

 

I'm sure you're seeing a theme here with the amphibians, and we're not done yet!  I didn't hear this one calling but I started seeing a lot of them on the road.  It's the mighty American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).  I saw both juveniles and adults.

 

 

Ok, now we're at the last animal of the evening before I turned around and drove home.  I had heard this toad calling a lot throughout the evening.  It was probably the most numerous of all the amphibians that were calling, and they had plenty of roadside ditches to breed in after all the heavy rain.  It's the great plains narrow-mouthed toad (Gastrophryne olivacea).  Its call is described in the field guide as a "nasal buzz or a high-pitched lamb bleat."  It's a really interesting call, to say the least.

 

 

2008 Herping main page

 

 



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