One day in late April I stopped by the lily pond at the Tregaron Conservancy to see how the bullfrogs are doing. I found the frogs – each guarding a water plant, and one out of the water that appeared to be guarding the whole pond. It did not budge as I approached to get a photo.
But I was not greeted by the chorus that I had expected.
This is what I heard during a 2018 visit:
About a month ago, the American toads were putting on quite a performance. That was their mating time in the pond. The proof of the success of their mating songs was the many tadpoles I saw wiggling around.
When I spoke to Lynn Parseghian, the executive director of the Tregaron Conservancy, about the bullfrogs, she eased my concerns about the lack of a robust chorus. She told me it is a little early in the season for them to be going full throttle. Late May through July is breeding season and that’s when you hear them at their loudest. And like many of us, they are not at their best first thing in the morning.
The bullfrogs might get a little stage fright too (which is justifiable, as they make a good meal for the hawks that live in the area). Parseghian said the pond’s water plants in late spring will be fuller and provide more cover, which will make them more comfortable in belting out their songs.
She encouraged me to go back later in the summer and in the afternoon. She has found that if she sits quietly on the bench near the pond, the frogs will eventually gather to peer at her. She attributed this to their curiosity. Another reason to return.
Tregaron Conservancy lies between Macomb Street and the Klingle path west of Connecticut Avenue. The pond on the property is a reconstruction of the original, rebuilt in 2009. It is not a natural pond. It’s filled with water pumped in from the stream, and an aerator runs for 12 hours at night. The muck that accumulates from leaves, branches and other debris is removed by hand.
When the pond was cleaned in early March, the muck was about knee high. Parseghian said removing the muck should be done in February or March when the frogs are still in hibernation. The frogs are removed along with the muck, which is spread around the edge of the pond and stream. When the frogs awake, they hop back to the pond – none the worse for their removal.