Monday, June 25, 2012

Frogs. It Had To Be Frogs.

We've been losing sleep at my house. Literally - and all because of the frogs. Scientists have been saying for years that global frog populations are in decline, but I'd like to invite those scientists to hang out in my backyard for an evening and see if they don't revise their numbers.

Several years ago we built a backyard pond. It's nothing super fancy - a 10' by 12' oval with a rocky waterfall on one side. Over the years we've added lots of foliage along its banks and a stone sitting area on one side. It's deep enough that we can keep a few fish living under the lilies and hyacinth that cover most of the pond's surface in the Summer. It has become our little oasis - a place to enjoy a beverage and read a book while relaxing in a Muskoka chair.

So here's what we learned a few months after filling the pond: Frogs will find water. We don't know where they come from. Maybe they use airborne reconnaissance. Maybe they use magic. We just don't know. All we do know is that we had some frogs move in and we thought that was pretty cool.

Every Spring since then has included 2 or 3 frogs taking up residence beside the fish. They eat bugs and provide a certain ambiance to the whole pond experience. We like the frogs and it's reasonable to believe the frogs like us - at least for our small oasis. This year has been different.

Maybe it was the mild Winter or perhaps it was our very early Spring, but our frog population exploded. Where we might expect a handful of quiet Kermits, we had triple our usual number. And they are decidedly not quiet. For the past few months our frogs have put on a nightly concert - a chorus of frog-calls loud enough to interrupt our sleep, even through closed windows.

We've just put up with the noise figuring they would quiet down once they've found mates or marked out territory or whatever it is that drives frogs to spend every night yelling - a green clenched fist shaking at the sky (I just made up that last part). After all, it's just Nature, so who are we to complain?

Well it turns out that some of our neighbours are less at peace with Nature. Saturday morning there was a knock at the door. One of neighbours was not enjoying the nightly frog concert. It fact, it was Those Neighbours - the ones everybody has on their street. They're the neighbours that never offer up so much as a "hello', but will always let you know when they're pissed about something.

In this instance, they had a point: The frogs have been damn loud. And since they asked nicely that we look into the matter, I felt like I had to do something. So the plan was to cull the herd. We'd trap as many frogs as we could and relocate them to a nearby marsh. It would not be easy.

For a few hours on Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning, and again Sunday evening, we went hunting. Our 'system' involved my wife acting as spotter while I hopped(?) around the pond with a net on a wooden pole. I would quietly dip my net behind a frog and use a bit of a wrist-shot to either snare it or at least flick it onto the lawn. At that point it would be free-for-all trying to catch the slimy bastard, get it into a bucket, and get a lid on the bucket before it launched itself back into the pond.

We looked and sounded foolish. This I know. Frogs are wily, driven creatures and it would often take us more than one or two tries to catch and keep one. We shouted, we jumped, we swore - but the weekend tally stands at 11 captured and relocated amphibians. One or two remain in the pond, but things are a lot quieter so far. We'll give it a few nights and see if our mission is fully accomplished.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep looking over my shoulder, lest I end up like Ray Milland.

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