Bonk bonk bonk bonk! The pobblebonks or Eastern Banjo Frogs are going bonkers calling at the moment – as are a whole suite of other frog species.
With this triple la nina it really is a fabulous year for frogs. And now you – and your family – can help your local frogs by participating in Frog ID Week!
FrogID Week is Australia’s Biggest Frog Count, held annually for Australians to help record frog calls through the free FrogID app, as a measurement of frog health and distribution around the nation. It aims to monitor frog distributions over time, helping the Australia Museum frog team understand how frogs and their ecosystems are responding to a changing planet.
(Head to https://www.frogid.net.au/frog-id-week to watch a short video by the lead scientist frog legend Dr Jodi Rowley, and download the FrogID app.)
Using the free FrogID app, you can record the frogs calling around you. And FrogID Week starts today – it runs from 11-20 November 2022.
I have been involved in many citizen science programs and FrogID is probably the best! The FrogID app is super easy to use – once you log in (just the once) you simply hold you phone up towards the frogs calling and there is a cool circle that shows the calls being recorded. After a minute, the app takes you through a few questions and you can supply a photo of the dam or roadside or bushland where you are making the recording if you want.
The app locates you – and then supplies you with a series of potential species that it could be – for example – these last few weeks I have been recording the frogs calling at my dam – and the app says it could be nine potential species for the area. It lists the species, and you can play a sample of each frog call to check. I usually record between 2 and four species.
Then back at the Australian Museum an actual real life volunteer verifies your selection!
Throughout the first year of the FrogID project, 179 species of 6 families and 23 genera were recorded, accumulating to 55,003 biodiversity records. The top-six most recorded species were the Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera), the Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii), Peron’s Tree Frog (Litoria peronii), the Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) and the Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingii). These six species accounted for almost half of all records! We get all of these species in the Daylesford region with the exception of Peron’s tree frog – they are found further west in the Castlemaine, Harcourt area.
Here in Porcupine ridge, I have been using the app on different nights and it is so interesting to see which species are calling when – at the same habitat!
On a warm night the combination is usually Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera) – that has a ratchety call e-er-e-er-er, the pobblebonk (Limnodynates dumerilii), the Brown Tree frog (Litoria ewingii) with a lovely rolling high call, and the strange tic tic — tic tic call of the Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii).
And then just the night before the loudest call was not the pobblebonks– it was the Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet (Crinia parainsignifera) that has my favourite call – a ridiculous nasal “Whee! …Whee!… Whee!”
The other aspect that is great about the FrogID project is the way they are using the citizen scientist data – and reporting back! The data has been used to reveal what triggers frogs to breed, that frog breeding seasons are longer in cities, peak calling times for frogs (not necessarily at night!), to track recovery from bushfires, update and extend distribution maps and even discover that frogs have regional differences in their calls across the country!
Tanya Loos is a local naturalist, author and environmental consultant who loves to work in the environmental not-for-profit sector. She is the author of “Daylesford Nature Diary” available from her website or from Paradise Books in Vincent Street, Daylesford.
Have you got any nature questions for Tanya? Send them in!