A Luminescent Florida Leopard Frog (And a Few Fairy Frogs)
Hand in hand, with fairy grace, Will we sing, and bless this place. —William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
As we hiked the Apoxee Trail in the Grassy Waters Preserve, it was often flooded — pictures forthcoming, because wading through 4-6 inches of swamp / marsh waters in the Florida Everglades is always an adventure! My most worried comment, 2 hours into the trail: “Errr, it appears as though these waters are now even with the swamp.”
But everywhere I looked, itsy-bitsy cricket frogs were jumping about the trail, and these lovelies were hiding in the vegetation and waters. He’s a Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala), common to the marshes, swamps, and cypress swamps of our area. The frogs range from dark brown to bright green. Apparently, the existence of a subspecies — the Florida Leopard Frog (Rana utricularia sphenocephala) — is debated among the experts.
Their colors are pure brilliance, with luminescent greens flashing here and there. There were so many frogs I wanted to photograph, but it was tricky nabbing them as they leapt into the waters or darted into the undergrowth. Just magical. So naturally I had to include one of my favorite children’s illustrators — Ida Rentoul Outhwaite — and her more famous images of frogs and fairies.
Nature’s colors, intensity, and variations continue to amaze — may your weekend be equally as spectacular and magical as this brilliant but diminutive frog!