Garreth's Wildlife Watch

Amphibians

(2015-06-09) It's that time of year again, the snow and ice has melted away and our island's many estuaries and small ponds are again. There are many natural events that people associate with springtime and the promise of the summer's return, the first buds appearing on trees or the first red-breasted robin seen in the yard. But for myself, there is one main event that really makes me feel like spring is truly in the air, the sound of amphibians coming from our wetlands.

Prince Edward Island has a wonderful array of hopping and crawling amphibian species, and with a little patience and outdoor enthusiasm, many of them can be spotted with ease. The spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) is usually the first of our local frogs to announce that spring is here. This small greenish brown frog's mating call is often mistaken for the sound of crickets by many people due to its high pitch. The spring peeper is most easily identified by its small size and "X" marking on its back.

Another common amphibian on PEI is the mid-sized Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens). With a white under belly and bright green dorsal side, this frog is quickly recognizable by it black "leopard" spots. Its call has an interesting sound and is often described as "someone rubbing two balloons together. This is one of our province's most abundant frog species.

My personal favourite sounding amphibian that can be found in Canada's smallest province is the green frog (Lithobates clamitans). Its call is always welcoming to my ears during a nice hike, because the green frog's sound can be likened to the twang of banjo strings being plucked. As a fan of bluegrass and old traditional Irish music, I sometimes catch myself tapping a foot to the call of the Green frog.

Of course no discussion of the Island's noisy amphibians could be complete without mentioning the American toad (Anaxyrus americanus). Its loud and continuous shrill can be heard easily from across a large field. These are a little more rare than some of our other amphibians, but once you hear one, you'll never forget the experience.

This is but a small sample of our province's amphibians that are starting to get more active this time of year. I would encourage everyone to get outside this spring, and take some time to listen to the wonderful springtime orchestra of our island's amphibian filled wetlands!


About the Author

Garreth Ashley recently graduated from the Wildlife Conservation Technology program at Holland College and is currently at University. He is a former employee and also a former Board Member of Kensington North. His blog, Wildlife Watch, is a collection of his own observations of wildlife on PEI.



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