Off to New England

We’re off to New England … New England National Park that is … where we will be participating in a survey for breeding frogs (see below for map showing park’s whereabouts in relation to Newcastle). My personal goal while there is to record the deep croaking of the rare Sphagnum Frog (Philoria sphagnicolus) that lives in high altitude beech forest.

We leave early tomorrow morning (the park is a six hour drive north) and I doubt if I’ll be able to blog during our trip because we won’t have internet up there. So, until my return late next week, feast your ears on the following long recording that I made last night in the Watagan Mountains south of Newcastle, a pleasing zen-infused mix of sounds:

From dusk to darkness at a small stream in the Watagan Mountains near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Features Kookaburras, two species of frogs, and the Southern Boobook Owl. 24 October 2012. Recording © Lang Elliott.

Map showing whereabouts of New England National ParkThe recording features Kookaburras sounding off as darkness descends, set against the sounds of two frogs. The high-pitched crackling notes are made by the Green Stream Frog (Litoria phyllochroa). The low-pitched croaks are made by one of Australia’s largest frogs, the Giant Barred Frog (Mixophyes iteratas).

About halfway through this 9-minute recording, a Southern Boobook Owl (Ninox novaeseelandiae) begins calling. Also referred to as Mopoke, both common names refer to its distinctive two-parted calls. The Boobook is Australias smallest owl and is common in the Watagan Mountains just south of Newcastle. It would be difficult to find a spot in the forest where they will not be heard.

Maybe I’ll pick up a new owl or two in New England National Park, though I’ll be quite happy indeed to snag the croaks of the Sphagnum Frog, which has surely captured my imagination.


  1. Today is a boring, gray, cold day in Michigan. Reading your blogs is one of the many things I’ll be doing today. I seriously never get enough of this website. I’ve read some of your blogs probably more than a dozen times.

  2. That is an unusual way of fighting. I knew frogs sometimes fought, but never in the way you mentioned. Because, I’ve seen Wood Frogs fighting before, but they don’t squeak while they fight. The calling frenzy thing is unusual too. Why would they do that every hour or so?

  3. Zack:

    Barred Frogs periodically go into a “calling frenzy” and I was lucky enough to get a recording of one. This happens about once every hour or so. I have no idea why they do it, but they really get going and some individuals give odd-sounding calls. This is a really cool frog. Some males sit right in the open on the bank next to a stream. You can spot males by shining a light along the opposite shoreline and looking for reflections of their eyes.

    In addition, males are known to “fight” one another, but I sure wouldn’t call it fighting in any conventional sense. What happens is one male mounts another and sits limply on top of his adversary with his legs hanging down. Then the two give soft squeaking calls, in alternation. Eventually, they separate and sit there next to one another, sometimes continuing their little squeaks. A very weird way of fighting, don’t you agree? If I were a grad student at Newcastle University, I’d study this species for sure.

  4. I just learned that the Giant Barred Frog is ranked as endangered, and they have quite a restricted range. How lucky you are to have heard some. I like the sounds of the boobook owl. Sure sounds different than Michigan.

    There’s one point in the recording where lots of barred frogs are calling at once.

  5. Someone, who loves nature, is always happy, to be around it.Is the people, who can make nature, what it is.what you are doing, will be admired, by many.Double up.Thank

  6. I have been away most of the time, but it looks like I might be around this coming month. When are you coming back?

  7. The owl set against the frogs is a real treat for the ears. Another wonderful spot your found and a great recording made.

  8. Excellent! I love the recording, especially the Giant Barred Frogs, which I’ve never heard a recording of before. I got an email from you yesterday and I really appreciate it.

  9. Lang,
    Every now and then I try to catchup with what you are doing. I like the way you report, it’s really fun reading. I love the sounds you are capturing too.
    Be safe, they have crocodiles ther!


    • Hi there Samite!

      When I get back we need to finish up our “project” … I’ll be rarin’ to go on it. No crocodiles where I’m working now, though there are wild boars in the forest, but they are not aggressive unless cornered. Lots of poisonous snakes around, though I’ve seen only one over the last month. We’re heading for high mountains today, New England National Park, where I hope to get some fresh material.

      Be well!

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