Buggin with Bridgey – March 2022

Buggin with Bridgey is a Monthly report of sightings from the Let’s Go Buggin Cairns Nature Tour in the Cairns Botanic 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 tropical north of Queensland.

Frogs in the Cairns Botanic Gardens & The Wet Tropics region.

This month I thought I would dedicate to our lovely frog amphibian friends found in the Cairns Botanic Gardens as well as the Wet Tropics in general.   I’ve always had a great deal of love for frogs.  When I was a child, living in country NSW, we had Green Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea) that would often come inside the house and hibernate in our desks and bookshelves. Since moving to the tropics and exploring the local area, Botanic Gardens and nearby rainforests I’ve come to learn we have a huge variety of frogs, each being more cute and lovable than the last.  I’m not really sure if I could pick a favourite, they are all so god-damn gorgeous!

Firstly, I thought I would feature some of our most special species, that is…species that are recognised by the IUCN as Endangered.

Closeup of a Waterfall Frog on a rock ledge with reflection of fern in eye

Waterfall Frog (Litoria nannotis) Available as made-to-order print.  Contact me for details.

IUCN Endangered Frogs of the Wet Tropics

Waterfall Frog (Litoria nannotis)

Beautifully camouflaged with a dark brown and olive-green spotted back with a lighter belly.  Reaching around 6.5cm, their toe-pads are enlarged allowing them to grip onto vertical wet cliff faces adjacent to waterfalls.  Waterfall Frogs are also considered endemic to the Wet Tropics.  A very special encounter indeed.  For anyone keen on some citizen science, the FrogID app is yet to have a recording of their call.

Common Mist Frog (Litoria rheocola)

Another frog living very close to waterways are these medium-sized (4.5cm) shy frogs.  Also considered endemic to the Wet Tropics, they can be found rock-hopping between waterways and will duck down if they feel threatened, which is what happened to the male seen below.  I interrupted his very enthusiastic croak getting into position to get this shot, and his very enlarged chin deflated.  You can see all the skin folded up which when he is croaking is fully extended.  A proper croaking behaviour is on the wish-list to photograph next time!  You can check out their cute croak on the FrogID app.

Australian lace-lid (Ranoidea dayi)

The somewhat soulless-eyed rainforest dweller’s huge eyes have a unique lace-like lid that will cover the eyeballs during the day, but their huge black orb eyes are an obvious feature of this species.  Another species considered endemic to the Wet Tropics region and again for the citizen scientists reading this, FrogID is yet to have a recording of the Australian Lace-lid croak.

Olive green and white coloured Mist Frog on a rock

Mist Frog (Litoria rheocola)

Gold and olive-green frog with huge black eyes sitting on a rock

Australian lace-lid (Ranoidea dayi)

Commonly seen frogs in the Cairns Botanic Gardens and The Wet Tropics

The following frogs are listed as the Least Concern with the IUCN.  In my experience, these species experience a healthy population, and can be seen regularly in the region.

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog (Litoria fallax)

A favourite species on Let’s Go Buggin Tours are these charismatic small frogs.   They often sit on leaves and stems of plants, enabling photographers to get some cracking shots.  For such a small frog (30 mm) they can produce a very loud, but very cute and squeeky croak which you can listen to on the FrogID page.  Their geographical range extends down the east coast from the Wet Tropics to the southern regions, as well as a small are around Melbourne.

White-lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata)

Probably the most commonly seen frog in the Cairns Botanic Gardens and also listed as Australia’s largest tree frog, reaching 13.5cm is the White-lipped Tree Frog.  Often taking up residence around houses and delighting people with their loud and consistent croak, these green frogs never cease to produce smiles on nature enthusiasts.  They will often give you some excellent poses as well, delighting photographers with their modelling skills.  Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks see these frogs on almost every Night Walk throughout the year.

Ornate Burrowing Frog (Platyplectrum ornatum)

Although listed as ‘least concern’, they aren’t seen too often, perhaps due to their name-sake, they like to hunker down and ‘borrow’ in the ground and hide.  Very occasionally though we are lucky to see them, and they offer some great smiles for the camera.   Ornate Burrowing Frogs are a medium-sized (4.5 cm) frog, with variable colours and patterns depending on the location.   The individuals I have seen in the Botanic Gardens and surrounding areas, are quite typical of the colours in the photo below.  The males have a some-what subtle croak you can here on the FrogID page.

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs (Litoria fallax), White-lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata), and Ornate Burrowing Frog (Platyplectrum ornatum)

Barred Frog (Mixophyes sp.)

Definitely one of my favourite species of frog, especially for photography.  Barred Frogs have been seen on Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks a few times, but are more likely to be found in rainforests on the ranges.   Affectionally known as ‘waap’ frogs to many of Let’s Go Buggin Annual Members, due to their comical croak, not yet recorded for FrogID. They are a large (10.5 cm), extremely docile frog that will often lay still and crouch if they feel under threat.  This gorgeous female was found in the sclerophyll forest west of Kuranda and is likely to be Mixophyes coggeri.  She was actually this vibrant red colouration.  There is only a slight colour enhancement on this photo.  Again for citizen scientists, recordings of the Barred Frogs are still needed for the FrogID project.

Large brown striped Barred Frog sitting on a log

Barred Frog (Mixophyes sp.) Available as made-to-order print.  Contact me for details.

Graceful Tree Frog (Litoria gracilenta)

Encountered a few times in the Cairns Botanic Gardens on Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks are these vibrant green frogs with yellow undersides and eyebrow lines.  They seem to be very docile and don’t tend to move much giving great opportunities to photographers.   Their geographical range extends down the east coast of Australia.  They are medium-sized (4.5 cm) and you can hear Graceful tree frogs call on the FrogID page.

Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii)

Often heard but seldom seen are these super cute little striped camo-designed frogs.  Their repetitive ‘took’ croak is one that is often replicated by humans.  This wet season I’ve heard many croaks in the Cairns Botanic Gardens, even during the day.  Their range is widespread along the east coast and inland.  I’m yet to photograph one of these beautiful Striped Marsh Frogs, so Let’s Go Buggin Annual Member Col, from CLMS Photography has provided the photo (below) of this species.  Check out Col’s amazing photography here.

Wood Frog (Papurana daemeli)

Encountered just a handful of times in the Cairns Botanic Gardens, but many times in the surrounding rainforest are these camouflaged amphibians.  They love to hang out on low tree branches and snuggle into crevices to hide during the day.  Quite shy and agile, you only usually get one chance to photograph them before they hop away with an impressive leap to escape.  Quite a large frog,(reaching 8 cm) Wood Frogs are only found in the Wet Tropics as well as in Arnhem Land in the Northern Teritory.

Graceful Tree Frog (Litoria gracilenta), Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii) © CLMS Photography, Wood Frog (Papurana daemeli)

Endemic to the Wet Tropics

Rain whistling frog (Austrochaperina pluvialis)

A gorgeous high-pitched trill from an elevated point is likely how you will first encounter this species.   Definitely worth a listen on the FrogID page, the Rain Whistling Frog reaching only 4 cm, this exclusive Wet Tropics frog can be found (and heard), in the rainforests.  This individual was spotted on a decaying log in the rainforest behind Cairns.  I absolutely love the red eyes and the white eyebrow lines of this species.

Green-eyed Tree Frog (Litoria serrata)

Another adorable species, but rarely seen are Green-eyed Tree Frogs.  Residing near flowing waterways, the colouration and even texture of this tree frog matches is moss and lichen rich environment with frills extending from their legs that blend into the surroundings.  Reaching 8.5 cm their call is a repetitive ‘tuuk’.  I’m yet to see one in the Cairns Botanic Gardens, but I have seen them in the rainforests nearby and east of Kuranda.

Northern Stony Creek Frog (Litoria jungguy)

One of our most commonly seen frogs during Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks and a joy to see the bright yellow-gold hues of the male Northern Stony Creek Frogs when they ‘get in the mood’.  They have a very cute purr-like croak, even in the act of mating!  This frog is listed as Near Threatened Frogs of the Wet Tropics by IUCN, however, I have found them to be in good numbers in the Cairns Botanic Gardens as well as the Wet Tropics.

Rain whistling frog (Austrochaperina pluvialis), Green-eyed Tree Frog (Litoria serrata), Northern Stony Creek Frog (Litoria jungguy)

I would really encourage you to get involved in the Australian Citizen Science Project called FrogID in which you are able to search for frogs in your area, listen to their calls and even record calls to upload and provide much valued data for the Frog ID team.

If you are in the Wet Tropics region, we have a dedicated Frog Hospital in Mission Beach called Frog Safe.  They can rescue, treat, rehabilitate and release frogs and is the best resources for injured or sick frogs in the area.  They offer a pickup service from Cairns.  They survive solely on Donations, so if you are able to support them please head to their website.

I hope you enjoyed this entry about Frogs in the Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Wet Tropics.  If you are reading this and would like to book a Let’s Go Buggin Tour in April feel free to use the discount code ‘blog’ to get a 30% discount.  Follow this link.  I hope to see you out there in bugland.

Next Blog end of April.

Bridgette uses Olympus OMD EM1 ii, 60mm M.Zuiko lens and CygnusTech Diffuser.