Monday, June 7, 2010

Frogs and Coffee at Two In The Morning

It’s just after midnight and I’m not working tonight. I really needed the time off, even though I found out about it as I was getting ready to go in. Too much rain in the area, and I’ve got a night off. It’s not wise to bed down early, nor is it smart to load up on caffeine as I usually do about this time every night. To keep myself awake I’m drinking half a cup of coffee and washing the sheets from the bed. Yes, housework as a means of staying awake even longer ! I need to write serious stuff but I haven’t had the frame of mind for it yet.

The one big difference between South Georgia in the winter time and South Georgia right now is the noise. The damn frogs are so loud I cannot keep my windows open at night. How many of them are there out there? What the hell is all the yelling about? Are there really that many screamers in Frogtown? Seriously, is this much racket getting them off or are they just social as hell? Actually it isn’t a bad noise at all. After a while it just kind of blends in and it’s a good sleeping noise, but it is incredibly loud.

I’d like to find out what species of frog I might have but the idea of wading around in the pond at night trying to catch one or a dozen singing doesn’t appeal to me at all. There aren’t any gators in the pond, ha ha, at least none I am aware of at this time, and discovering the one true species of water lizard at night doesn’t seem like that good of an idea, even though you have to admit it would be something to write about provided I lived and still had appendages to type with. Gators are not aggressive and they won’t attack humans usually, but usually there are no humans wading around in a pond at night. Put yourself in a position to be harmed by a wild animal and you will be. The Crocodile Hunter was a moron on the order of magnitude and it is amazing he wasn’t killed sooner. The idea that a stingray got him is just plain odd, but it is also karma. I will not be wading around in the pond at night without backup, and that means getting someone else to do it.
Years ago I was going to go on a hunt for an amazingly large Cottonmouth I had seen but the logistics of getting to the place was daunting. It was an hour and a half to the nearest hospital and getting zapped by an animal large enough to answer theological questions didn’t seem like a very good idea at the time.

After nine years living here in Hickory Head, I can honestly say the myth of Cottonmouths being overly aggressive is mostly that. I’m in the cross range of two different species of Cottonmouth that being the Eastern and the Florida, and neither one has taken a shot at me or the mutts. Sam was killed a few of them, or someone in the backyard has and Sam is at worst a fifty-fifty shot. On the other hand, I’ve shooed a dozen or so out of the yard, relocated a large one, and no one has gotten bit yet. I do see it coming, but that’s the price for living out here the way I want to live out here.

Okay, since the last paragraph I have looked all over the net and found some really nice frog song sites but none of them have my frogs. I have special non net frogs. I have two species of venomous reptiles and non net frogs. This just keeps getting better all the time.

What puzzles me is where all the frogs and Cottonmouths go when it is dry around here, and it had been more dry than we t most of the time. For a year or so there was hardly any water at all in the pond, and there was the one year it was flooded. I wound up with half my backyard under water, and Bert wasn’t dry for eighteen months. That was when we had the plague of Cottonmouths and that was when Sam started killing them. You do not honestly think a snake has half a chance against a dog do you? Dog are larger, faster, more agile, and they have greater endurance. A snake has venom, but they have to count on a dog making a mistake. Let’s throw in a pair of dogs accustomed to hunting as a team and that’s why I am not worried overmuch about snakebite out here. Dogs, particularly pack canines, are apex predators. Snakes are not. They prey on frogs, true enough, but that’s about it.

I have seen frogs out here, but they are never still enough for me to know what kind they might be. There are some unusual looking brown colored frogs, but I haven’t gotten a close look yet. There are leopard frogs, I do know them, and I know the sound of a bullfrog, but these chorus frogs that rock all night… Really, I would like to know.

I wonder if they all sing all night, or if some of them get tired and stop and others that rise later keep it alive. My knowledge of frogs is pretty limited it seems. I wonder if they sing to mate, or if they sing to confuse predators, or if there is a reason I’m missing altogether. I could see why singing would confuse critters like a raccoon. Trying to pin down one individual in that mess would be like trying to see one zebra. Moreover, if the raccoon did scare up a frog and it leapt to get away, the raccoon could not possibly hear where it landed. But snakes are deaf, so that wouldn’t work.Hmmmm.

Okay, can you tell I’ve had too much coffee?

Take Care
Mike

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