September aria

For the past week or so, this Pacific treefrog (Hyla regilla, though there’s some debate about this name now and it’s been suggested that these are more properly Pseudacris regilla. It’s a bit like nit-picking* to me. All my field guides call them Hyla regilla!) has been in residence in and around a pot of chives on the deck. In this photograph, it’s on a honeysuckle leaf (pot of chives behind it) and those little holes in the leaf are evidence of sawfly larvae, I think. And there are ants around too. The other day I saw this little frog stick out its tongue and capture an ant which it seemed to relish.

There’s another larger treefrog on the upper deck. And another, the tiny one shown in my post of August 25, as well as one we hear but don’t see in the ferns by the patio. What’s interesting to me right now is their voices. In the spring, you can stand outside at night and all you hear is a huge loud chorus of treefrogs calling to one another in the great mating hullabulloo in the nearby water sources. Such large voices for such tiny creatures! Deep baritones, rich tenors, even the odd mezzo-soprano. Right now, though, the treefrogs close to the house are singing individual arias. It’s not about mating. Wrong season. So what is it about? Yesterday I watered the potted herbs on the deck and as soon as I’d finished, the little frog in the photograph was singing loudly. Was it joy? Irritation? Field guides talk about the “rain song”, the premonition of changing weather. But it’s been lovely here for the past week and we’re promised good weather for the rest of September, and still the treefrogs sing. And who knows, maybe we’re hearing arias from Handel’s Hercules: There in myrtle shades reclined/By streams that thro’ Elysium wind,/In sweetest union we shall prove…”

*i.e., it doesn’t change the essential qualities of the treefrog…

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