A couple weeks ago I volunteered to be Danielle’s field assistant for the evening. All of the acoustics fieldwork I have helped with in the past has been on a boat, so I was happy to put aside my dead-week studying to learn a little bit about acoustics research on land. It also didn’t hurt that Danielle is well versed in field assistant bribery (Burgerville! Cookies!)
We headed out of town just after five pm, driving north past Albany to the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. Danielle has a number of pond sites she visits on a rotating basis, Ankeny contains one.
We arrived at the pond in daylight and got right to work counting egg masses in the first study area. Since the egg masses are tricky to spot, it’s easier to work during the day. Together we walked in straight lines across the (shallow) pond for half an hour counting all of the egg masses we could see. Since the egg masses are so tiny, Danielle and I both had to hunch over to see into the pond, sometimes using our hands to confirm a sighting.
After we finished our survey effort, we shared some snacks and hung out until nighttime when the frogs started chorusing. When it was fully dark, we put on our waders and headed to a second pond to try and catch some adult frogs. I wasn’t very good at it (the frogs are so tiny and speedy) but Danelle caught a bunch and I helped her weigh and measure them. Finally it was time to record the chorusing!
Earlier in the day I asked Danielle if recording the frogs was a peaceful experience, similar to how I feel when I hear a whale on my hydrophone recordings. She hesitantly told me that sometimes it is…but often the frogs are are too loud for any sort of relaxation. It’s hard to believe that such a loud noise can come out of an animal that is hardly bigger than a quarter, but she was not kidding…
Next time in sharing our research…Danielle goes to sea!