Pickerel Frog - Finally!
Lithobates palustris


FINALLY......I recorded a Pickerel Frog calling!!!

The Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris) is not a rare frog.  It is quite common and widespread across the eastern United States.   Unfortunately, it is not common nor widespread in Texas and in spite of decades of looking for them, I have never seen or heard one.

So, as is a long-standing tradition for me, I made the long drive into the forests of East Texas during the spring of 2024 to see if I could find one of these little "snorers".    Unfortunately, although we had had warmer than average weather in the preceding week and some rain had fallen, the night I arrived at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge it was cooler than usual.   We drove around listening and recording Spring Peepers and Cajun Chorus Frogs hoping to hear something else.  But by 9pm, the temperature had dropped into the low 50s and that usually puts a damper on frogs calling in Texas on dry nights.

Right before we were headed back to the hotel, we stopped at one last flooded roadside forested area.   This spot was right next to the road and train tracks so it was full of trash and plastic bottles - hardly a pristine vernal pool.

I recorded some Spring Peepers and some Southern Leopard Frogs when suddenly, I heard a long snore just a few feet away into the forest.

My first Pickerel Frog call!

Pickerel Frog!!!!!   After years of standing in the cold on spring nights, I finally found one!

The call of the Pickerel Frog is maybe best described as a long snore, although there is a percussive component to the spectrogram that you don't see in the "buzzy snores" of the Spadefoots.

Here's one of this frog's "snores" -

Unfortunately, we were tired and wet, and there was a barbed wire fence keeping us from getting over to see the frog, so I substituted a captive photo from decades ago.  I guess because we were so tired (it was a 6 hour drive to get there, and we had been listening to frogs in the cold for several hours already), I decided that we would come back tomorrow night when it was forecast to be warmer and get a nice stereo recording.

Needless to say, the next night it was just as cold and there were no Pickerel Frogs calling.  I'm glad I at least got something the night before.  

That is my 38th of the 42 (maybe 44 now) species occurring in Texas.   Maybe I can get lucky and knock off another two this year?  I still need Houston Toad (Anaxyrus houstonensis), American Toad (Anaxyurus americanus), Pig Frog (Lithobates grylio), and White-lipped Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis) of the native species and Greenhouse Frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris) and Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) of the introduced species.   There is a newly described/about to be described Chirping Frog species I might still need although I won't know that until I see a range map.

I will leave you with a bit more of the recording of the Spring Peepers, Southern Leopard Frogs and Pickerel Frogs from this dirty roadside ditch.

Pickerel Frog and neighbors

© Chris Harrison 2024

Stonemason Toadlet
Uperoleia lithomoda

Uperoleia lithomoda, photo by Richard D. Reams (CC license)

The Stonemason Toadlet (Uperoleia lithomoda) is another small toadlet from the Top End of Australia.   Like the other "toadlets" in the Australian genus Uperoleia, they are neither toads nor related to toads.  They are related to other Australian Ground Frogs in the family Myobatrachidae.   It is another of the many examples where the English words "frog" and "toad" fail to adequately describe the broad diversity of Anurans that are found throughout the world.

Like other Uperoleia, the Stonemason Toadlet remains burrowed underground through much of the year and only emerges to breed during the rains of the wet season.   I recorded these Stonemason Toadlets calling next to the road in Kakadu National Park after some heavy rains on the evening of January 4, 2024.

I never saw the toadlets making this call, so I am once again indebted to the generosity of other photographers who allow their iNaturalist record photos to be used under a Creative Commons License.   This great photo was posted by Richard D. Reams (username rreams) on his record for the species from further west in the Northern Territory.

The call of the Stonemason Toadlet sounds like the clicking of stones together, or as the common name implies, the sound of a stonemason at work.   For those of use more familiar with North American frog calls, it is reminiscent of the clicking of our Cricket Frogs (genus Acris).

In this recording, you hear Stonemason Toadlets calling against a background of the raspy calls of the Desert Treefrog (Litoria rubella).

Uropelia lithomoda calling from Kakadu National Park


© Chris Harrison 2024 

Remote Froglet
Crinia remota

 The Remote Froglet (Crinia remota) is a small frog of the Australian Top End.  Unfortunately, although I have managed to record a few species of Crinia while in Australia, I have never managed to see one of the little buggers!   They are tiny frogs that call from flooded grassy areas and seem to stop calling/disappear as soon as you approach or shine a light on them. 😒

So once again I am forced to rely on the generosity of others who have agreed to allow their photos to be used under a Creative Commons License.   The photo above was taken by Aaron Bean (username beaniana08 on iNaturalist) and is used under the terms of the Creative Commons license he granted to iNaturalist.org.

The call of the Remote Froglet is an ascending trill, somewhat remniscent of the calls of many of our North American Chorus Frog (Pseudacris species).   This chorus was calling from a grassy, flooded roadside ditch in Kakadu National Park northwest of the town of Jabiru on a rainy January night at the beginning of 2024.


© Chris Harrison 2024

Black-shinned Rocket Frog
Litoria tornieri


The Black-shinned Rocket Frog (Litoria tornieri) is found on in Australia's "Top End" from the Kimberley Region of northern Western Australia and along the norther tier of the Northern Territory.   There are a number of these "ranid-looking" rocket frog species across Australia but in the Kakadu area, this was the species I most commonly encountered.

Adults are around 1.5 inches (3.5cm) in total length and are typically reddish-brown or grayish-brown with a few irregular black spots along the sides.   The area along the edge of the snout and through the eye to the tympanum (ear) is marked with a dark "mask".  

This species was common in the swampy savannah woodlands through Kakadu National Park.   I heard them calling from most flooded areas after rains and found a large number hopping across the roads at night.

Their call could be described as a two-part "ribbit" although it isn't like the North American Pacific Coast Pseudacris species from where that common frog onomatopoeic call name originates.   It is more "buzzy" and less "croaky" than the American Pseudacris that made the "ribbit" name synonymous with frog calls.

Here's a cleaned up recording of a few calling from along the road in Kakadu National Park

Litoria tornieri isolated recording

And here's another recording from the same spot, but with some Remote Froglets (Crinia remota) adding their dry trills above the Rocket Frogs.

Litoria tornieri calling with Crinia remota


© Chris Harrison 2024

Fat (Jabiru) Toadlet
Uperoleia crassa/arenicola


The Fat Toadlet (Uperoleia crassa) is a small toadlet of the Australian Top End.   It is found from northeastern Western Australia, east through the top end of the Northern Territory and down into northwestern Queensland.   However, there is another species of Uperoleia, the Jabiru Toadlet (U. arenicola) that was described from the rocky savannas on western edge of Arnhem Land (north-central NT).   This falls inside the range of the Fat Toadlet (U. crassa).  Several authorities question whether the Jabiru Toadlet (U. arenicola) is a valid species or whether it is just a population of the more widespread Fat Toadlet (U. crassa).

These Toadlets that I recorded in January 2024 were technically in the range of the Jabiru Toadlet, if such a creature exists.  In fact, I was only 12miles NNW of the town of Jabiru for which they are named.   But if the Jabiru Toadlet isn't a valid species, then these are Fat Toadlets (U. crassa).   So I can't say which species they are, just that they are whichever crassa/arenicola species occurs in western Arnhem land.

Not only are the Fat and Jabiru Toadlets visually indistinguishable according to authorities on the genus, but their calls sound the same as well.   The excellent Australian Museum Frog ID page does not have a recording of Jabiru Toadlets.   It does have Fat Toadlet recordings, and they sound pretty similar to mine.

The call of these Toadlets is hard to describe in words.   I guess a short, buzzy "beep" or descending "be-ohp" might be a start, but there is also a shorter "chuck" call interspersed.   I can't put it into words, but here's a couple calling from a roadside in Kakadu National Park from January 2024 after some rains.   You figure out what they are saying! 😆

Fat Toadlets calling

In this second recording, you hear a larger chorus with the croaking of an Australian Green Treefrog (Ranoidea caerulea) in the background.

Fat Toadlets calling


© Chris Harrison 2024

Hidden-ear Frog
Ranoidea cryptotis

The Hidden-ear Frog (Ranoidea cryptotis) is a medium-sized dumpy frog of the Australian north.   It is found from the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, east through the Northern Territory and into northern Queensland.   The common name "hidden-ear" as well as the specific epithet cryptotis are references to the fact that this frog lacks an obvious external tympanum (eardrum) as is seen in other members of the genus.   

In color they are brown or green mottled, usually with a orange mid-dorsal stripe.

In general appearance, these reminded me of one of the North American Spadefoots (Scaphiopodidae) and they live a similar lifestyle.  They remain burrowed in the soil for much of the year but emerge during the wet season to breed in flooded roadside ditches, ponds and swamps.

Not only do they visually remind me of the Scaphiopodidae, but their call has the groaning sound of many of the spadefoots.   The call could be described as a groaning "woah, woah" produced over and over again.

Unfortunately, where I recorded these frogs there was a deafening chorus of other species calling (Ranoidea australis, Ranoidea longipes, Litoria rubella, Litoria inermis, Litoria ridibunda Uperoleia lithomoda and others).   Here's a video where I tried to focus on the Hidden-ear Frogs, but you can hear how loud the others were.  It was uncomfortable to the ears to be standing in this chorus!

Here's my recording of those choristers. The clicking sound is the Stonemason Toadlet nearby.

Hidden-ear Frog

© Chris Harrison 2023

Long-footed Frog
Ranoidea longipes


The Long-footed Frog (Ranoidea longipes) is a large frog of the monsoonal grasslands and grassy desert of the Australian Top End.   Like many frogs of this seasonally arid land, they remain hidden away underground for much of the year, only emerging to breed on wet monsoonal nights.

I recorded and photographed these Long-footed Frogs in a flooded roadside ditch/puddle, just outside of the town of Kununurra, Western Australia after a tremendous afternoon rainstorm.   According to locals, it was the first reasonable rain they had seen in many months and the frogs responded en masse!   I found deafening choruses of at least 13 species of frog that night all within a few miles of town.    The sound as I walked around this puddle looking at frogs was absolutely deafening.   There were hundreds of frogs of many species calling all at once.   It was difficult to hear which species were calling.

Here's a recording of the cacophony of that spot -

The call of the Long-footed Frog is a long nasal of "wraaaaaah".
Each of the calls lasts slightly longer than 1 second and is repeated every again after about a 1 second pause.
In this recording you can hear the long nasal call against the "roh, roh, roh" background calls of the many Australian Giant Frogs (Ranoidea australis) and a few other species.

© Chris Harrison 2023

Giant Burrowing Frog
Ranoidea australis


The Giant Burrowing Frog (Ranoidea australis) is a medium sized frog found across the northern tier of Australia except for the mesic tropics of NE Queensland.   There is a range map for this species on the Australian Museum's Frog Identification Page.  While it is a "giant" frog by Australian frog standards, a large adult is still only 4 inches (10cm) long.   Compared to other giant frogs around the globe, it would be a medium frog.   But I guess this is a giant Australian frog (although the invasive Cane Toad is notable larger!)

This species is known by a few other names including Giant Frog, Giant Snapping Frog, and Northern Snapping Frog.   Some authorities prefer to use the older genus name Cyclorana for this distinctively shaped group of Australian frogs.

These frogs can be patterned like the one seen calling above or they can be uniform tan, yellow-orange or even bright green.   They usually have a dark mask and can various amounts of mottling.   Some have a mid-dorsal stripe which can be orange, yellow, white or absent.

 These big frogs have a big call.   I hear it as a loud "roark", but in groups or in the distance it can even sound like a dog barking.

Giant Burrowing Frog from Kununurra, Western Australia

Because they are such loud frogs, even in a deafening chorus of other species, the calls of R. australis stand out.
In this recording you can hear the Giant Burrowing Frogs calling in spite of the cacophony of other species, including:
Litoria rubella
Litoria ridibunda
Litoria inermis
Uperoleia lithomoda
Ranoidea maculosa
and probably other species. But the Giant Burrowers stand out! 

Chorus from Kununurra, Western Australia

© Chris Harrison 2023

Ornate Burrowing Frog - revisited
Platyplectrum ornatum

 Why am I creating a new, separate post for the Ornate Burrowing Frog (Platyplectrum ornatum)?   

Simple, I got another, better recording of the species!

My first recording was one of those "accidental finds" I come across in my recordings.  I had recorded one in 2014 in Queensland but hadn't known what the sound was until much later.   But this time I got to see the little frogs calling and got a much better recording.

On the evening of December 31, 2023 we were staying in Kunanurra, Western Australia.   It was the beginning of the wet season in this arid region, but the area immediately around the town hadn't received any rain yet.   On the afternoon of December 31st, the sky opened up and it rained heavily for a few hours.   I know it was New Year's Eve and all, but an opportunity to go frogging after the first heavy seasonal rainfall in the desert doesn't come along every year.   New Year's Eve does, and I've seen plenty of fireworks before.   So off I went.

I only got a mile or so out of town before the sounds of frogs calling in the ditches made me stop.   Next to the road in this little drainage ditch there was this magical little frog chorus emanating from it.   I peeked over to see who the singers were and found this group of a dozen or more little floating Platyplectrum singing their "doop" call.  It was much less sharply percussive than my previous experience with the species and it had a charm that made it one of my favorite frog choruses of the whole trip down under.

Unfortunately, there was a very loud Desert Treefrog (Litoria rubella) right next to where I put my microphones so he drowned out a lot of the calls.   I had to filter that out so you could enjoy the little floating chorus of "doop!" frogs.

a Platyplectrum "doop!" party


© Chris Harrison 2023

Daly Waters Frog
Ranoidea maculosa

Daly Waters Frog (Ranoidea maculosa); photo used by
Creative Commons License granted by iNaturalist user Ralph Foster (rfoster)
from this record

The Daly Waters Frog (Ranoidea maculosa) is a medium-sized rotund little "Cyclorana" style frog from the Northern Territory of Australia.  It is named for the town of Daly Waters, roughly halfway between Darwin and Alice Springs.   The town itself is famous for its outback pub and being the site of a tree that may have been monogrammed with a large carved S by the explorer John McDouall Stuart in 1862.   However, the veracity of this claim is questioned.

But when I was planning my trip to the Northern Territory and looked in my Australia Frog book, I saw that there was a frog species that the book indicated only lived in that area!   Obviously my curiosity was piqued, and I started hatching a plan to make a side trip down to Daly Waters to add this species to my frog recording list. 

It turned out I didn't make it to Daly Waters, but also that the Daly Waters Frog has a range well beyond the boundaries of this tiny outback town.  I recorded my maculosa 300 miles west of Daly Waters in Kununarra, Western Australia.

The call of this frog is a bit hard to describe.   It is a long groaning "waaiiii" that lasts around 2 seconds.   In fact, when I first heard this frog calling it was in a very loud chorus of other species, but it was the length of the call that made it stand out from the shorter, louder calls of the other species.

I captured this call of the Daly Waters Frog quite by accident in this deafening frog chorus north of Kununurra after the first real heavy rainfall at the beginning of the "wet"1 season.

I heard the longer call that night in this flooded roadside grassy ditch next to a farm, but the chorus of other species was so deafening, I couldn't really pin down where the R. maculosa was calling from.

Here's a short sample of the cacophony of this roadside puddle.   The noisiest contributors are the Giant Frog (Ranoidea australis), the Desert Treefrog (Litoria rubella) and the laugh of the Western Laughing Treefrog (Litoria ridibunda).   See if you can pick out the long, two second "groans" of the Daly Waters Frog in there.

Obviously, you can't hear the long "waiiih" call of the Daly Waters Frog very clearly in that recording, but I have applied some heavy EQ and filtering to try and bring out the long "waaaiiiih" in this recording.

highly filtered sound of the Daly Waters Frog

For a comparison recording, listen to the recording by Nathan Litjens on this Australian Museum Frog Identification Page

© Chris Harrison 2023

1.  Even in the wettest season, there is nothing particularly "wet" about this part of arid Australia at the edge of the Kimberleys region.