One of the attributes of matter

Despite the still-looming threat of night frosts, spring continues to make daily advances. I haven’t yet seen any turtles, which remain to my way of thinking the irrefutable mark of the year’s turning; but there have been snakes, and, more recently, frogs.

The first frogs I heard this year were at Willow River State Park, north of Hudson, WI, right by the Minnesota state line; my wife and I stopped there for a brief wander on the way back from a weekend in Minneapolis. There was a spot where chorus frogs were distinctly audible, like fingernails on a comb. Not a huge throng, but definitely there.

Last weekend I checked out one of Madison’s frog hot-spots, the Picnic Point Marsh, in the Lakeshore Preserve on campus. It did not disappoint! The calling was loud and sustained, and after I stood still by the water’s edge for a few minutes, I even started to see the frogs: a little wedge-showed brown head would pop up above the waterline, to be shortly followed by another, and then a flurry of arms and legs.

Here’s the phone recording of the walk from the lake’s shore down to the edge of the marsh; the background picture is the closest I could get to one of the frogs before startling it:

The sound was so dense I’m not even sure what kind of frogs these were; individual calls were hard to pick out; really, I should load them into Audacity and have a look at the frequency spectra.

Picnic Point is also a terrific place for trout lilies (Erythronium), which were also present and starting to bloom:

Picnic Point, Lakeshore Preserve, UW Madison

Back in the realm of sounds, my wife and I went to hear They Might Be Giants that weekend. They started off their encore with “Mammal”, the source of one of this blog’s tags. So that was pretty great!


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