Herp Update: August 24 – calls, spiny softshell, peeper challenge
Calls & a Challenge
the birds and amphibians have almost entirely finished calling and mating for the year and the insects have taken over the singing responsibilities until frost arrives. One amphibian call that is just starting is the fall call of the Spring Peeper. This is not a mating call and I am not sure why they make it.
They are calling from the woods instead of the wetlands, and it is not a chorus of lots of peepers. It is just single individuals. I believe they are hiding in the leaf litter while calling, but I can’t say that for sure. I have tried to track down fall calling peepers to find the frog that was making the noise, but even when I get within a couple feet of the call, I have not been able to see the frog. The call itself is a shorter harsher version of their spring call and it has often confused bird watchers who mistakenly thought it was coming from a bird and like me, tried to track down the singer.
Lang Elliott has recorded fall calls of Spring Peepers and you can hear them starting at about 8 minutes and 40 seconds into this recording of his: https://musicofnature.com/spring-peepers-and-autumn-pipers/
Consider this a challenge: can you find and photograph (or better yet make a video of) a fall-calling Spring Peeper? I think you would be the first ever to do that if you succeeded.
We received another report and photo of a Spiny Softshell (turtle) near the Winooski River. The most recent report came from Jo R. She photographed a male Spiny Softshell at Delta Park in Colchester on August 1, 2021. This is only the second report associated with the Winooski River Delta since Zadock Thompson wrote his Natural History of Vermont back in 1853. Softshells once frequented three river deltas (the Missisquoi, the Lamoille, and the Winooski), but they disappeared from the Winooski River over a century ago. Perhaps a population will become re-established there.