An American Toad is an eye-catching creature, especially when it’s perched on top of an equally eye-catching Dryad’s Saddle fungus. Toad tales may not sound exciting, but now that this handsome toad perched on a “toadstool” has captured your attention, read on for the rest of the toad trills and tales.
Song birds are singing, daffodils will soon appear, and one of my favorite, often overlooked signs of spring has entered its kitten-fur phase. Kitten-fur? The “furry” feeling catkins of pussy willow are now at their peak and free of snow from Monday’s mini squall in northernmost Oakland County.
Their blossoms produce abundant pollen in the early days of spring, a discovery I learned from watching my foraging honey bees.
The blue sky days of spring are taking hold, and with increased hours of daylight and thawing of vernal ponds and frozen earth, the great awakening of our snakes, frogs, and toads is accelerating. Today I’ll be sharing snippets of information on a dozen of my favorite snakes and frogs that are slithering and hopping about. They have been waiting longer for spring than you and I have been. Let’s welcome them!
Here in the Midwest, we are privileged to fully experience four distinct seasons. Summer brings endless encounters with our natural world, especially within our wetlands, perhaps my favorite nature-embracing environment on a sultry summer day.
“Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life.” – Charles Darwin
Darwin’s timeless quote might just be the perfect mantra for the American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), the largest frog in North America. This giant of a frog is heard far more often than seen. It is a major player in Oakland County ponds and wetlands and an integral part of its watery environment.
Bullfrogs can weigh well over a pound and be almost eight inches long. Their appetite is even larger than their size. Unlike other frogs that just wait patiently at the edge of a swamp to snag a passing bug or dragonfly with a lightning-fast sticky tongue, bullfrogs lunge open-mouthed at unsuspecting passing prey.
We knew winter really was over and spring was firmly taking hold on the wilder side of Oakland County when my hiking companion and I unexpectedly encountered an ancient amphibian ritual deep in the woods of Bald Mountain Recreation Area. Although light rain fell the evening before, the sun was shining. Only a few, very small remnants of snow remained on north facing slopes of the glacially sculpted, wooded hills, and the temperature had just reached 55°F. Those environmental conditions were perfect for the encounter that was about to occur.