At the August meeting, Dr Graeme Watson, a noted frog expert, gave a fascinating talk about frogs, particularly those that are local to our area. Graeme is a past member of the Garden Club whose considerable contribution to the club was acknowledged at our 30th birthday celebrations in 2015.
Graeme showed a photograph of the Spotted Marsh Frog that is widespread and well adapted to our urban as well as rural environments. It is quite small and usually a grey-green or brown colour with irregular dark patches. These colours vary and it sometimes has a light-coloured stripe running down its back. They start calling when the weather becomes warmer. Some calls are territorial whilst others are used to attract females.
The eggs of this frog are found in our ponds and look like a foamy mass. Within a week it is easy to see with the naked eye the development of the tadpole. Tadpoles spend varying amounts of time in the water – sometimes up to a year before becoming frogs.
Graeme mentioned a number of other frogs including two local burrowing species. These are nocturnal feeders and like cultivated dirt. Some species in Central Australia have been known to spend six to eight years underground, only emerging when it rains.
The key to providing a frog-friendly garden is to create areas that give good cover and to provide water. Ponds should not have fish as they eat the eggs and tadpoles. They should have sloping sides to allow frogs easy access and be surrounded by vegetation to provide protection.
The presence of frogs is generally an indicator of a healthy natural environment. Threats to frogs are many including numerous predators, drying environment, loss of habitat and use of herbicides.
Graeme has an application on his phone called FrogID produced and available from the Australian Museum. The app can be used to identify frog calls in the various Australian states. Graeme demonstrated a few frog calls including the Eastern Banjo frog known colloquially at the Pobbleponk!