Singing Gray Treefrogs: May 2019

A few photos and videos of singing Gray Treefrogs observed in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in May 2019.

A Gray Treefrog sings from a perch on a tree hanging over a pond.
Gray Treefrog singing from tree

And here is a video of the male calling from a tree:

One male Gray Treefrog chases another male out of his territory. The dominant male is on the left, and the retreating male is on the right of the photo.
Treefrog chases a rival

Despite their name, Gray Treefrogs often have a green color. Here, the green color of a calling male Gray Treefrog contrasts with the tan color of the dead cattail branches he is perching on.
Gray Treefrog calling from dead cattail leaves.

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Favorite Photos of 2018

Here are my 10 favorite photos of 2018:

10: Portrait of a unisexual Ambystoma salamander:

Unisexual Ambystoma

9: Male Reddish-Brown Stage Beetle: I have seen larvae and females of this species, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I encountered a male. While walking across the CWRU campus one day, I came across this male beetle with the characteristic large mandibles.

Male Stag Beetle

8: Wood Frog hiding under a leaf: Just the nose and limbs of this wood frog are visible hidden under a leaf.

Wood frog hidden under leaf in pond

7: Metamorphosing Pickerel Frog: No longer a tadpole, but not yet a full frog, this froglet has four limbs and the shrinking remains of its tadpole tail.

Metamorphosing Pickerel Frog

6: Midge from Lake Erie: In 2018 the midges emerging from Lake Erie swarmed all over my house. I took several photos, but this image of a midge perching on top of a leaf was my favorite.

Midge rearing up on leaf

5: Toad Lurking in Background: This photo captured the chaos of the toad mating season. One pair of toads are in amplexus, but another male waits in the background for an opportunity to mate.

Male toad watches mating toads.

4: Spring Peeper nearing metamorphosis: The shape of the front limbs are visible under the skin of the tadpole’s body. Within a day or two, the front limbs will emerge, and the tadpole will continue through metamorphosis.

Spring Peeper tadpole about to metamorphose

3: Bellowing Bullfrog: I spent a wonderful evening listening to some bullfrogs calling. The photo captures drops of water being launched from the frog’s body by the vibrations of the call. You can also see this in a video of the bullfrog calling.

Bellowing male bullfrog

2: Baby Twin-Spot Spiny Lizard on a fence: This calm little lizard let me catch a quick snapshot of it sitting near the top of a fence post.

Baby Spiny Lizard on Fence

1: American Alligator in MC Escher Style: This photo reminded me of MC Escher’s work, although the effect wasn’t intentional.

American Alligator M.C. Escher Theme

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Frog Calendar 2019: Twelve months of frogs!

Looking for a natural history gift for a friend or family member? Or a herpetological calendar to keep you up to date? I have compiled some of my favorite photos into a 2019 calendar highlighting some wonderful North American frogs. The calendar and some other amphibian gifts are available through my Zazzle Store: MrBufo. Each month has a different photograph drawn from ten species of North American frogs. The photographs include different behaviors (singing and mating) and life stages (tadpole, metamorphosing froglet, and adult). Click on any of the photos below to take a closer look at the calendar, and to order one for yourself.

January has a Pacific Chorus Frog with an enormous inflated vocal sac, and February has a Spring Peeper looking in your eyes as he sings.

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale

March has two Spring Peepers in an amplexus embrace, and April has a bold American Toad in full trill-mode.

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale; Amplexing Spring Peepers

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale; American Toad Photo

May has a male Gray Treefrog calling from a perch in a tree, and June has a Green Frog calling from the pond.

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale; Gray Treefrog Photo

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale; green frog photo

July has a bellowing American Bullfrog sending drops of water into the air, and August has a Gray Treefrog tadpole with a stunning red tail.

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale

September has a lime-colored Green Treefrog squeaking its song, and October has a Pickerel Frog sitting in a shallow stream.

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale; Green Treefrog

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale

November has metamorphosing Northern Leopard Frog with a long tail, and December has a recently metamorphosed New Mexico Spadefoot Toad with cute, bulgy eyes.

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale

2019 Frog Photo Calendar for sale

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Telephoto lens attachment for cell phone cameras: useful tool for citizen-science applications like iNaturalist

Smartphones with high-quality cameras and gps capabilities have facilitated an explosion of citizen-science projects in which members of the general public share observations about the natural world with scientists. However, one limitation of making photo-based observations with smartphones is that most phones are not able to take good images of animals that are far away. A solution to this problem is to use a telephoto lens that can be clipped to the phone. I have used the Godefa Cell Phone Camera Lens, 12X Zoom to make observations on iNaturalist and HerpMapper. They come in handy in a variety of situations, including documenting snapping turtles looking for nesting spots, nervous baby rabbits, and birds way up in a tree. These lenses are typically available from amazon for less than $10.

The lenses I’ve ordered come with the lens, a clip to attach to a phone, an attachment to protect your phone from scratches, and a lens wipe. Here a photo of what has been in the lens packages that I’ve ordered:

telephoto lens kit for iphone or android

The lenses screw into the clip, and then easily clip onto the phone. I use an iPhone in an otterbox protective case. The lens clip fits easily onto my phone. The only drawback of using the lens with the protective case is that at the most zoomed-out situation a black ring appears around the edges of the photo. [Aside: you can pick up phone cases with some of my photos at my MrBufo Zazzle store]

telephoto lens attached to iphone

There are a couple things to keep in mind about this lens. First, this lens is not equivalent to a high-quality Canon and Nikon telephoto lens! You can get decent photos with it to help identify animals at a distance. But in my experience, the photos aren’t high enough quality that I would want to hang them on my wall. Second, the lens can be hard to focus, especially if you zoom all the way out. In this case, stabilizing the camera on something can be helpful, but does not always solve the problem. Despite these minor hiccups, the lenses meet my needs: they let me get good photos of distant animals for citizen-science projects. Here are a couple examples of the kind of photos you can take with these lenses.

I photographed this greenfrog from an observation deck in the Cleveland Metroparks. In the first photo, I did not use the zoom lens attachment, and this photo is not zoomed in using the phone’s zoom feature. You can barely make out the green frog near the middle of the frame:

regular photo of green frog

Without the telephoto attachment, here is the best zoom on the iphone. The green frog can be seen, but the is not good quality, and it is hard to make out details of the frog’s body and color pattern.

zoomed in low quality photo from iphone

And here is a photo of the green frog using the telephoto lens. The iphone zoom function is only slightly used to get rid of the black circle.

green frog image with iphone with telephoto lens attached.

Now for a more controlled example. In this example, I am about 15 feet (4.5 meters) away from a birdbath. There is a small statue of a bird in the middle of the birdbath. The first photo was taken with my iphone not using the zoom function. You can’t make out the ceramic bird very well. This would not be a good voucher for a citizen-science database like iNaturalist:

test of iphone at 15 feet

And here is the photo when I have zoomed all the way in, but still have not attached the telephoto lens. The image doesn’t look great, and the ceramic bird is still small. If this was a real animal, you could probably make it out for identification purposes, but probably couldn’t get much other information from the photo.

iphone zoom test

Now I have attached the telephoto lens over my iPhone with otterbox case. The iphone is not zoomed at all, resulting in a ring around the edge of the photo. I don’t think the ring would be present if I did not use the otterbox case, but I haven’t tested that.

telephoto lens on iphone with black ring

Now I have slightly zoomed in to hide the black ring. I could have focused better, but was in a hurry taking the photo. This is already better than the photo without the telephoto lens.

use of telephoto lens attachment on iphone

Finally, here is a photograph with the telephoto lens attached, and the iPhone’s zoom feature fully engaged.

zoomed in with telephoto lens attached.

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A long video of relaxing frog calls at night

Looking for some relaxing nature sounds? The audio in this video was recorded next to a pond in northeast Ohio on a warm summer night. Bullfrog and Green Frog calls dominate the sound, but you can also hear the distant trills of a few Gray Treefrogs, and a few birds and insects. Please enjoy!

The three species of frogs heard in the video are the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana), the Green Frog (Rana clamitans), and the Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor). Below are photos of each of these species. If you like the photos, you can click on each photo to purchase a print or digital download. More videos and recordings of calling frogs, including frog song ringtones for phones, can be found on my frog song page.

The American Bullfrog has a bellowing call that sounds a bit like a foghorn. In the photo below, you can see how the vibrations from his call sends water droplets flying into the air.
Bellowing male bullfrog

The Green Frog has a short “plunk” sound, reminiscent of a person plucking a banjo string.
Calling Male Green Frog

The Gray Treefrog has a pleasant, high-pitched trill.
Calling from a tree

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