- Last updated:
- 10 Aug 2020
Article by Sameer Punde, Community Conservation Officer, Sunshine Coast Council
Bushcare not only brings communities together to restore bushland but bushcare volunteers often get a chance to observe wildlife up close. And February was a perfect time for it!
The much anticipated rain earlier in the year combined with the warm weather were ideal conditions to look for frogs. The “Find a Frog in February” program is coordinated by the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee (MRCCC) and supported by the Sunshine Coast Council Environment Levy Partnerships. Every year, citizen scientists and volunteers submit records including sightings and calls of frogs. The records provide vital information on frog species distributions and population levels at a local scale as well as giving us an indication of the health of our natural areas.
MRCCC led Belli/Cedar Catchment Care Community hosted the “Find a Frog in February” event that brought together a small group of avid bushcare volunteers keen to learn about frogs. Braving the wet weather, the group spent a couple of hours late one afternoon planting native grasses and shrubs along the banks of Belli Creek. After a quick supper and with torches in hand, the group set out in the direction of the frog calls. Despite the intermittent showers that required a quick dash for cover, the evening turned out to be quite a rewarding experience. Frog expert Eva Ford from the MRCCC pointed out the various frog calls including the eastern sedge frog (Litoria fallax) with its high pitch “creek – creek” and the barely audible “cluck” of the near threatened tusked frog (Adelotus brevis). The striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronei) could be heard in the distance with its unmistakable “tok – tok,” which Eva quite rightly described as like listening to a tennis match.
Listening for calls is often the easy part of a frog survey and spotting them with even the brightest of torches can prove to be quite a challenge, as the volunteers soon realised. The trick, as Eva advised, is to hold the torch at eye level or, better yet, wear a head torch. This allows the observer to spot eye shine as the torch light is reflected off eyes that might belong to a frog or even a spider – as one volunteer found to their surprise!
The patience and persistence finally paid off as a distinct and large pair of eyes shone from amongst the thick leaf litter on the banks of Belli Creek. Eva carefully approached the frog and pointed out a large female giant barred frog (Mixophyes iterates), which was very well camouflaged in the leaf litter. As the second largest frog in Australia, the sighting of giant barred frog was clearly the highlight of the evening. The volunteers learnt that this species is only found in flowing creeks and streams in wet sclerophyll habitats and rainforests. During the breeding season, female giant barred frogs flick fertilised eggs onto overhanging banks.
With very specific requirements for habitats that are now threatened by disturbance, the giant barred frog has unfortunately found its way into the endangered species list. Efforts to restore habitats by community groups such as the Belli/Cedar Catchment Care Community are important for the conservation of species such as the giant barred frog. To join and support such efforts in your local area, visit council’s BushCare Sunshine Coast website.