The Woodies Have Begun!

Last night I found my first active group of Wood Frogs, the males cackling excitedly from a small pond in a nearby wildlife management area. What’s more, females were laying eggs like crazy and I managed to get some decent video footage of the process:

Just in case you’re wondering, the entire sound track is contrived, built from other (genuine) recordings of Wood Frogs plus some “foley” work to create credible water sounds. Why did I do this? Well, because the peeps of Spring Peepers were overwhelming in loudness, totally blowing out the Wood Frog sounds and overloading my recorder. There really wasn’t any choice.

So tell me how well I did. Is the sound track believable? What about the water sounds, which I recorded by wiggling my fingers in water in the kitchen sink. Does it work?

Knowing how to add and/or replace the nature sounds is required in this kind of work. Heck, BBC, Geographic, and Animal Planet do it all the time, so why can’t I? Rarely (considerably less than half the time) is one able to get a usable, perfectly-synched recording when the video is actually made. Plus, there is often considerable variation in audio ambience between clips or scenes, making audio transitions much too abrupt when the final edit is created.

That’s why “massaging the sound track” is required. Understand?

It helps, of course, if there’s a different person manning the microphone and recorder. But I work alone a LOT, and that was certainly the case last night. Sure, there are ponds to be found where Wood Frogs breed but where there are no Spring Peepers, but this obviously wasn’t one of them. You have to work with the situation that presents itself.

So how did I do?

NOTE: I’ll soon be working up a NatureWatch profile for the Wood Frog. It will contain some great footage of “knots” … several males all wrapped around a female. Knots are exciting to look at, but not so great for the frogs! I’ll tell you more about Wood Frog knots when I finish the NatureWatch video, hopefully within the next week or so.

Video Metadata
Wood Frog Egg Laying
Wood Frog Egg Laying

A brief video featuring Wood Frogs laying eggs. Video and sound by Lang Elliott,


  1. Completely believable, Lang–I wouldn’t have noticed the soundtrack either if you hadn’t pointed it out! Brilliant, especially your water sounds, I love it!

    The wood frogs and peepers are singing like crazy here in western NY as well, they have been since Thursday. I’ve been trying to record both wood frogs and woodcock but can’t seem to be able to, the peepers are so loud! I also heard American toad last night in abundance–too bad the snow is on the way for tomorrow!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Excellent video/sound Lang! If you had not mentioned it–would not have known. I so love the intimate view you give us of the amphibian world and the footage and sound is always beautiful. Feel like I am there in the water with you. Looking forward to more!

  3. This video is simply amazing! I am so glad to see what the male looks like when he sings. I’ve seen Wood Frog eggs, but to see the frogs right there with all those eggs and to observe creation in action is quite wonderful. Thanks, too, for the explanation of how you did the audio. Spring Peepers certainly DO blow out everything when their chorus is in full song!

    I’m really looking forward to more posts like this!

  4. I love wood frogs. Thank you, Mr. Elliott, for all your hard work. You’ve taught me to hear night sounds as a true symphony. I’ve studied your tapes (like so many others) and love keeping up with your work. Thanks, too, for this reminder of spring.

  5. I thought the soundtrack was totally believable. Over the years, more often than not, I have heard the first wood frogs in my small pond on April 12. This year they are right on schedule!

  6. Thanks :
    I’m having issues with our pond working on it feverishly because the wood fogs use it,
    this just gave me more incentive to get this problem solved, so we can enjoy their calls
    thanks again Lang love your work.

  7. Excellent job.

    As you point out, ALL nature documentaries have scenes, or parts of scenes, that are “faked;” there’s little chance of capturing nature’s miracles through a lens or a mic in a way that is satisfactory for accurate AND aesthetically pleasing depiction or recreation.

    As a documentary filmmaker, my rule is that I have no problems whatsoever fudging the little details as long as it’s in the service of better depicting the greater truths.

    And you nailed it. Synching the males grunts? Perfect. Wiggling your fingers in the sink? Ingenious, and wholly believable. Thanks.

  8. This is simply brilliant. I love the way you put together the mind-blowing video with a more realistic soundtrack that emphasizes the accurate vocalization of this majestic species. By definition when we observe digital representations of reality, we are seeing a recreation, indeed a sort of illusion (witness two dimensional images of three dimensional objects), so I have no objection to accurate forms of “poetic license” in the culturally crucial objective of teaching about nature and natural sound.

  9. Woodies indeed. Your “massaging” the video and audio is credible and legitimate. You capture the subject while filtering out “static”. Your Ear is exquisitely tuned to reality AKA nature.

    • Thanks Amy! It does sound pretty good to me, and it’s no easy task to do that kind of thing. Luckily, I have a huge library of recordings to draw from, plus I often go out there and get what I need, if I don’t already have it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.