For more information and images on Frogs, visit the Categories section below, in Florida Animals — or in such posts as Look Closely, Barking Tree Frog, A Luminescent Florida Leopard Frog, Gotcha, Pig Frog! and more.
Four hours of hiking Jonathan Dickinson State Park‘s terrain, and one is thankful for cloudy days (or at least my Irish skin always is). After passing stately rows of centuries-old cypress and live oak along the Loxahatchee River (into which the Kitching Creek flows), we headed into some lovely cypress swamps — always my favorite — before breaking out once again into the open pine flatwoods. Outside of the family of feral pigs and myriad birds, it was somewhat quiet. But towards the end of the hike, I nearly stepped on a tiny, beautiful barking tree frog. Fortunately, it leapt straight in the air to avoid my lumbering hiking boots.
I was so focused on a songbird on this tree’s branch during a visit to Butterfly World, that I barely heard my guy gasping, in a barely audible whisper…. “Ohmahgawd. You’re gonna freak.” I love frogs — well, I seem to say that about everything — but I do love them and appreciate their vital role in our ecosystems. I had my telephoto lens working hard, so as to not disturb the bird. I quietly crept up to the trunk, and there it was: a tiny frog — he had to be two inches, at the most — nestled comfortably in the depths of a knot within the tree’s trunk. My eyes quickly became bigger than the knot itself.
I’m continually amazed at how much life trees support — seen and unseen.
Hiding in the vegetation and waters of our hikes, we’ve also spied Southern Leopard Frogs (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.