Buggin with Bridgey – December 2023

Buggin with Bridgey is a Monthly report of sightings from the Let’s Go Buggin Cairns Nature & Photography Tour in the Cairns Botanical Gardens.  As the months roll by, subtle changes in the seasons bring sightings of new creatures and this report aims to give people a wrap up of the current animals seen as well as provide an ongoing citizen science account of our wonderful critters that can be seen in the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Frogs in the Cairns Botanical Gardens

and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Australian Lace-lid (Ranoidea dayi) can be found in the Wet Tropics of Queensland

A pair of Australian Lace-lids (Ranoidea dayi) in amplexis

With the arrival of Cyclone Jasper to the Wet Tropics of Queensland the frog breeding season is off to a flying start.  The Wet Tropics Region and the Cairns Botanical Gardens are privileged to host a variety of fascinating frogs. As we venture into the dense foliage, our ears are immediately graced with the melodious chorus of nature’s finest musicians.  Picture-perfect moments await us amidst the emerald-coloured backdrop.

So, my fellow nature enthusiasts, let the symphony of frogs be your guide as you step into a realm of Frog-dom.  Let’s embrace the wonder of these amphibious marvels and continue to celebrate the astounding diversity that our planet has to offer.

For those who wish to immortalize these stunning creatures in photographic form, the Wet Tropics presents endless possibilities.  Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks in the Cairns Botanical Gardens offer a multitude of opportunities to do just that!  Join us on a magical quest to uncover the hidden world of frogs.  It’s a sensory feast you won’t soon forget.

Australian Lace-lid (Ranoidea dayi)

I went to one of my regular spots to find a Lace-lid Frog so I could try to capture their incredible eyelids.   To my delight my macro buddy Chris and I came across a number of individuals, as well as these two bound together in ‘Amplexis’.  It was a moment too good to pass up, even though the shot could only be captured if I was knee-deep in a running creek.   In my experience these frogs have always been very close to running water.

Close-up of the eyelid of Australian Lace-lid (Ranoidea dayi)

Closeup of the eye-lid in which has inspired the Lace-lid Frogs name.

Northern Stony Creek Frog (Litoria jungguy)

This species is one of the most common frogs we see in the Cairns Botanical Gardens on Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks.  We usually see males more than females, but thought I would show one of the big, beautiful ladies in this blog. They are often three times the size of the males, and tend to be more wide roaming in my experience, unlike the males who I will usually find hanging close by to water.   This Wet Season I hope to get an updated shot of this species in amplexis (frog mating).  The males go bright golden-yellow which you can see an old picture of mine here.

Female Northern Stony Creek (Litoria jungguy) can be found in Cairns Botanical Gardens

Northern Stony Creek Frog (Litoria jungguy)

Orange-thighed Tree Frog (Litoria xanthomera)

This species was on my wishlist ever since I heard two croaks in a drain.  I was so curious about the two frogs that were croaking, but thanks to the Frog ID App., it was confirmed to be just one frog.   It’s currently my favourite frog call and you can listen to  it here.  Think Waaw, waaw waaw…. Brrrrt, brrrrt, brrrrt!   The second part of the croak sounds like an old analogue phone ring-tone.  This gorgeous individual was the darling of a Private Let’s Go Buggin Frog Walk and posed perfectly for us right at the very end of our walk.   Such a beautiful way to finish the tour!

Orange-thighed Tree Frogs can be found in Cairns Botanical Gardens

Orange-thighed Tree Frog (Litoria xanthomera)

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog (Litoria Fallax)

“Tiny Frog…Big Croak” is what most people say when they get to encounter these frogs on Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks in the Cairns Botanical Gardens.  Most people are mesmerised by their tiny size of 2cm but impressed by the loudness and vibrance of their croak. Out of all the frogs we see these have got the biggest ‘cute’ factor.  I was lucky enough at the start of this season to get this male practicing his call.

A male Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog croaking can be found in Cairns Botanical Gardens

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog (Litoria Fallax)

White-lipped Tree Frog (Nyctimystes infrafrenatus)

The prize for the ‘best posers’ undoubtedly goes to White-lip Tree Frogs.  I just can’t go past them.  These green beauties are the ‘Hero’ of the Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks in the Cairns Botanical Gardens amusing people with their size and their perfect poses.  Distinctively different from their more wide-spread cousin the Green Tree Frog by their slender bodies, bright green skin and the obvious white lip that extends all the way to the top of their forearm.  Their croaks sound like happy ducks.

White-lipped Tree Frogs sitting on a tree stump can be found in Cairns Botanical Gardens

White-lipped Tree Frog (Nyctimystes infrafrenatus)

Green Tree Frog (Ranoidea caerulea)

Even though the species is one of Australia’s most geographically widespread frog, it isn’t very common in the Cairns region. I usually only see a few each year.  Their darker green hues and plumper body distinguishes them from their White-liped cousins. They can be found in urban gardens to lush rainforests, the Green Tree Frog are an Aussie favorite.  Adapted for both terrestrial and arboreal life, these frogs display remarkable versatility. Their large toe pads and adhesive digits facilitate skilled climbing, allowing them to explore vegetation and seek refuge in the treetops.  Their diet primarily consists of insects, making them valuable contributors to pest control in their ecosystems.

A Green Tree Frog (Ranoidea caerulea) sitting on a tree branch

Green Tree Frog (Ranoidea caerulea)

Australian Wood Frog (Papurana daemeli)

As their name suggests these rainforest dwellers blend into their environment. With their textured skin and embossed lines down the side of their bodies called ‘dorsolateral skin folds’, they are distinctly different to all of the other frogs in Australia.  Geographically restricted to the Wet Tropics of Queensland and across Papua New Guinea.  The croaks of this species is a musical laugh followed by a bird-like chirp.  You can listen to the croak on the Frog ID website here.

Australian Wood Frogs can be found in Cairns Botanical Gardens

Australian Wood Frog (Papurana daemeli)

Green-eyed Tree Frog (Ranoidea serrata)

Green-eyed Tree Frogs, scientifically known as Ranoidia serrata, are captivating creatures that inhabit the lush canopies of tropical rainforests. These petite amphibians are renowned for their striking emerald-green splotches around the eyes, which contrast brilliantly with their vibrant, mottled green and gold skin. With a slender body and dexterous toes equipped for climbing, these tree frogs spend their lives amidst the foliage, showcasing remarkable agility.  Don’t be fooled by their small stature as these little dynamos are like the rainforest’s personal pest control squad feeding on a variety of arthropods.

Green-eyed Tree Frog (Ranoidia serrata) climbing a tree with its legs stretched out

Green-eyed Tree Frog (Ranoidea serrata)

Northern Barred Frog (Mixophyes schevilli)

Definitely in my Top 3 frogs in the Cairns Botanical Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland are these impressive large rainforest dwellers.   Northern Barred Frogs are a super-chilled species who rarely moves unless they absolutely have to.  Females can reach an impressive 100 millimetres, and males 75 mm.  The darkness of the eyes and somewhat vague expression on their faces is enough to think you are looking at an alien.  Characterized by its robust build and distinct coloration, the species exhibits a dorsal surface presenting a rich chocolate-brown hue, accentuated by prominent red-gold bands on the legs.  During Let’s Go Buggin Walks in the Cairns Botanical Gardens, these frogs are affectionately nick-named ‘Waaap Frogs’ due to their characteristic low-pitched croak.

Northern Barred Frogs can be found in Cairns Botanical Gardens

Northern Barred Frog (Mixophyes schevilli)

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the examples of the Frogs in the Cairns Botanical Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. If you would like to take a deeper dive into some other encounters you can check out my Let’s Go Buggin Project on iNaturalist here.

Keen for a Let’s Go Buggin Tour? Use ‘BRIDGEYBLOG’ as the coupon code for 15% discount on your tour booking here.

Next Blog in late January.

🐸 📸 💚

Bridgette

Bridgette uses a variety of Olympus OM SYSTEM Cameras and Lenses