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The Backyard Science group regularly features the Daily Bucket.  We hope you will add your own observations of the world around you.  New bug on the tomato plants?  The creek at the park running dry?  Critters preying on your pears? Please share your comments. Insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds,  and more are all worthy additions to the Bucket.  Include, as close as is comfortable for you, your location. Your impressions will shed yield knowledge of the life cycles that reveal themselves all around us.

 Eight years ago, I excavated two small ponds in my back yard; they were 12 x 8 and 4 x 12 feet and 2 to 4 feet deep.

That first wet spring, while I sat by the pond at dusk, up hopped a tiny frog, the size of a silver dollar.  I caught it and looked at it closely.  It was a bullfrog, so small that it had probably been a tadpole a week earlier.

I didn’t want non-native bullfrogs in my new ponds. I wanted the native tree and chorus frogs. I thought I should smash this invader against the ground as if it was a slug I found on the tomatoes.

I raised my fist but loosened my grip.  The bullfrog struggled free, fell, landed awkwardly, and hop-limped into the lamb’s ear plants. I simply wasn’t willing to kill it, but regretted its presence.

Four years later, I partly drained the deeper pond for maintenance. As the water level fell, I saw splashing. There was a bullfrog, perhaps 2 inches across, that struggled up onto the shore from the depleting pond, and hopped away into the strawberries.

I don’t know if it was the same frog. I hadn't seen it for four years. It, or both of them, must have been female because I never heard the deep ri-b-b-b-et of the male bullfrog in my backyard.  Only the males croak.

Four more years passed, during which a half-dozen native frogs colonized, and frolicked in the ponds, even generating tadpoles.

But this spring, I spotted a 4-inch-across plump female bullfrog on a lily pad in the deeper pond.  I was near enough to touch it.  It seemed unworried.  

Could it be the same bullfrog, now eight years old?  That would be possible, but it would be a very old frog, that had remained invisible for eight years except for those two prior sightings.  And it wasn’t that large; the bullfrogs at the golf course are big as dinner plates.  This frog was barely a demitasse dish.

Bullfrogs are sexy critters.  The males’ croakings typically draws multiple anxious females to a “lek” or gathering, where they compete for the pimply caresses of frog love.  The male bullfrogs in nearby creeks and lakes are audible for some distances on spring nights, their sultry pitches carry even into my back yard.

Why would female frogs leave that hedonistic scene, hop for a mile through the suburbs, across streets, through yards bristling with cats, dogs, raccoons, possums, and skunks, to live alone in my backyard ponds?  

Which is more unlikely; that three female frogs would trek over individually at 2-3 year intervals, or that one frog would do it, and stay unnoticed, for eight years?

My misgivings about the bullfrog's presence dogged me.  I named her "Ms. Heron-Bait," and hoped a hungry heron would solve my quandary.  But Ms. 6 renamed her Ms. Havisham, after the eccentric character in "Great Expectations."

Every evening at dusk, she leaves the pond and ventures into the Lily-of-the-Valleys, to eat bugs. She's plumper now.

I haven't seen her the last few days.  Now I'm worried there is a bullfrog-sized hole in my heart.

And Now it's your turn to tell us about the goings-on in your area.

"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!
After a hiatus of over 1 1/2 years, Meteor Blades has revived his excellent series.  As MB explained, this weekly diary is a "round-up with excerpts and links... of the hard work so many Kossacks put into bringing matters of environmental concern to the community... I'll be starting out with some commentary of my own on an issue related to the environment, a word I take in its broadest meaning."

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.  Be sure to recommend and comment in the diary.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 06:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


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