Here’s a quick partial report on the frog and toad survey we did last Monday. We had seven volunteers and after some discussion of survey procedures and a refresher on frog calls, we divided up into three teams, each team assigned to three pre-set sites in the marsh. It was a glorious, warm, quiet evening, and early in the year so relatively bug-free. We started out to our sites at sunset — twilight to darkness is a good time to hear frogs.
My team took three sites along the Grand Crossing Trail. The first one well north of the pedestrian bridge over the La Crosse River, the second just south of the bridge, and the third along one of the dead-end trails extending west from the trail. There was another team that took three sites along the Asfoor and Veterans trails, and the third team covered three sites along the south edge of the marsh.
North of the bridge, we encountered a dramatic full chorus of Boreal Chorus Frogs. I know, a chorus of Chorus frogs. What do we expect? Well, what did we hope? This was the jackpot. Not a moment of silence. Just south of the bridge, still a good full-throated chorus of Chorus Frogs. Not as many as a little farther north, but pretty good. And at our third site, the Chorus Frogs were less numerous, but here they were underscored by the more guttural vocalizations of Northern Leopard Frogs. There will be many more Leopard Frogs as the summer progresses, but this was pretty exciting.
A very satisfying result to our part of the survey. But there’s more. On our walk out to the first site, by the side of the trail, we encountered a nice-sized Blanding’s Turtle, a state species of special concern. This is only the second one I have ever seen. Here’s a link to some additional information:
There were Great Blue Herons all along the trail in the shallows. A Barred Owl glided past us from tree line to tree line. The sky was full of bats — very good to see considering the horrible population crisis bats are experiencing. And, as we got back to the trailhead near the dog park, Common Nighthawks overhead. It was too dark to see them, but we could hear their unmistakable calls. This is a bird species that has experienced dramatic population losses.
All in all, not a bad evening in the marsh.