We have a small property ‘up the Coast’ where we aim to build what Kiwis call a
bach (pronounced ‘batch’). It’s a 90 minute drive from our Wellington home and is covered with bracken and grass, some unwanted gorse and blackberry. The previous owners planted some flax, cabbage trees and a few other odds and ends, some of which sadly haven’t survived. We’re working on that.
While we wait for our bach we rented a tiny cabin. With 2 dogs it’s really only suitable for staying in when the weather’s not too wet or windy. So, after several weekends in a row of forecast or actual rain I took the opportunity mid-week for an overnight visit.
A friend of friends had given me a couple of dozen flax bushes they had no room for in their garden and I needed to plant the flax, rather than just carting them round in the back of the car.
When I arrived I noticed a large blob of mud above the light by the cabin’s door. After a little research I discovered it to be a nest built by the little Welcome Swallows that flit around the area.
Round behind the shed I spotted one little clump of daffodils — a pleasant surprise.
The previous owner had planted trees and flaxes in old car tires all over the property. I added new flaxes to a group of empty tires on the South boundary then a short distance away spotted another tire I could plant in. I bent down to pull out the grass that had grown there and to clear away overhanging bracken when I caught a flash of green on the edge of my vision.
On closer inspection I found a bright green frog inside the tire. It was hopping around but in no hurry to leave. Later on a bit of web searching revealed it to be a Green and Golden Bell Frog:
In the late 1860s several consignments of these frogs were received from Sydney and released …
Description ~ these frogs are brilliantly coloured with an overall green appearance interspersed with gold or bronze coloured patches. There is a fold of skin (usually cream in colour) running from the eye along the side of the animal to its groin. This fold is bordered by a thin black line that continues over the head to the nostrils. The back of their thighs and groin area are bright blue and the belly is smooth and white. The skin is very smooth and there is only webbing on their hind feet. They have suckers for climbing on all toes and fingers. Males are smaller than the females with an average length of about 60 mm, whereas females can be larger than 90 mm.
The article I’ve quoted above also says they’re found only north of Gisborne, but that page is dated 2006. When I came home to a decent Internet connection where pages load in the blink of an eye rather than in 10 minutes, I also found a Naturewatch article, edited in 2008, that includes a map. The map clearly shows these frogs have been found as far south as Wellington
The little frog seemed to have no fear of me. I went back after a while and it was sunning itself quite happily in the tire. I shaded it with my body so I could grab a couple more photos.
Even as I moved my iPhone closer and closer the frog didn’t move.
I’m hopeless at estimating sizes and distances, but this little cutie was probably only a bit smaller than my iPhone 5.
Listen to this brief podcast by Helen Sharpe to hear the strange call of this frog.
I suspect the reason we have frogs at all is that a few metres down the road, almost at the beach, are a couple of tiny lakes. The lakes are home to all sorts of birds, including some very graceful black swans who currently have cygnets in their care.
Friends say they’ve seen a Spoonbill on the lakes, and there are certainly plenty of ducks. In summer I hope to take my DSLR with its long lens and a tripod and take some photos of water birds.
As I tromped around our empty section (or
lot I guess my North American readers would call it) I came across several spots where the bracken and grass had been flattened in an area the size of a large bootprint. Each nest was full of bird poop. I suspect the local pheasant hangs out in those spots when we’re not around. The two nests I found were near where our wee house will soon be put up — I hope we don’t frighten the pheasant away.