Where have all the frogs gone?
Looking for peepers in all the right places
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I went out the other day looking for frogs, but I didn’t find any.
For the past two weeks, I've been hearing reports that the spring peepers are peeping. They're calling to each other from across vernal pools and temporary ponds, singing out for a mate. Friends have posted recordings on Facebook. Listeners to our radio show have called in with reports.
But I haven't heard any myself.
Last year, I took my daughter and some of her classmates on the Frog Frenzy Night Hike at Oregon Ridge. We heard a lot of frogs. But we didn't see any. We just saw tadpoles, and frankly, I don’t want to see any more of those for fear they'll be coming home with me. My daughter now has a tank with three tadpoles, courtesy of friends with a pond, and I worry about the little buggers every day.
So my friend Frank Roylance, a former science writer at The Baltimore Sun and a man with a keen understanding of land and sky, offered to take me out for a look in the woods near his home. We both wondered where the frogs went during the day - he could hear them at night, but like me, he wasn't able to see them.
We muddied up our boots strolling through the woods by Western Run, a tributary of the Gunpowder north of Baltimore. Once again, I was struck by the county's foresight to preserve tracts of land near the water. Just two miles from a very busy commercial strip, there was wilderness, and what looked like a swamp. We saw white-tailed deer running through the woods. Frank tried to rescue a bee that had fallen into the drink. We heard lots of birds.
It should have been frog heaven. But we didn't see any. Or hear any.
We'll have to try again, maybe at dusk.
Frank asked me, where do frogs go during the day?
As with many things, it was something I hadn't thought too much about. And as with many things, I didn't have a good answer.
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