Bay Journal

Where have all the frogs gone?

Looking for peepers in all the right places

  • By Rona Kobell on April 03, 2014
  • Comments are closed for this article.
Frogs and toads are amphibians belonging to the taxonomic order Anura -- and both rely on pooled water for critical life stages. (Frank Roylance) Frogs will seek water just about anywhere. (Frank Roylance) Muddy pools in Western Run:  Many species of frogs and salamanders rely on the intermittent pooling of water in low lying areas to lay their eggs, which is one reasons that wetlands of all kinds are so important. (Rona Kobell)

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.

About Rona Kobell

Rona Kobell is a former writer for the Baltimore Sun. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Read more articles by Rona Kobell


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Frank on April 03, 2014:

It's actually the city that has protected that stretch of Western Run, as part of the Loch Raven reservoir watershed. The county has plans - currently on hold - to build a road through it to connect Shawan Road to Paper Mill Road.

Kay Slaughter on April 07, 2014:

I've not heard any in Charlottesville although Sunday a week ago -- March 30 -- I was with the Charlottesville Women's Choir at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women near Zion's Cross Roads in Fluvanna County, and I heard peepers as we were leaving the prison about 9 pm. The prison is adjacent to an area of wooded wetlands and the frogs were singing away. I was happy the women could hear these from their prison cells. But back to Charlottesville only 15 miles away, there was only silence. Hopefully they will be singing soon (I wrote a column or the Hook several years ago about the absence of singing here as I checked out reports of frogs elsewhere; eventually we had our frogsong).

Carolyn on April 10, 2014:

When I drove down to Waldorf last week I heard the spring peepers off a quiet road near swamp. However, up closer to Baltimore where I live it's hard to find the frogs. I think a lot of habitat has been lost with all the new development in the area.

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