Posted in Agriculture, Declining Populations, Frogs and Toads, ontario, Reptiles and Amphibians, Wetlands, tagged declining amphibian populations, essa township, farm drainage, frog ponds, frogs, habitat destruction, nature photography, ontario, simcoe county, spring chorus, vernal ponds, wetlands on April 22, 2013 |
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Those of you that have been following along here at the blog know that I have been photographing frogs and toads in vernal ponds found in an abandoned cattle pasture behind my home for a number of years. Vernal ponds are temporary pools of water that are critical habitat relied upon by frogs and toads as breeding sites every spring. Each and every spring chorusing frogs and toads would filled the air with song. Late last fall, the land which was zoned for agriculture was sold to an industrious farmer who promptly cleared every tree that lined the plots of land and then plowed the land. By plowing the land the farmer wiped out much of the frog and toad population in the immediate vicinity of my rural home.
As the temperatures began to warm this spring I would listen intently from my back deck listening for the songs of chorus frogs, which are always the first frogs to emerge from hibernation. A couple of weeks ago I heard the calls of one or two individuals. As the temperatures warmed further, the calls of the chorus frogs should have been incredibly loud, but not so. One or two individuals was all I ever heard. Last week the final nail in the coffin was delivered to this field as a farm drainage company arrived and tiled the field to drain the land, making it suitable for the planting of crops.
No longer will I hear or photograph the seven species of frogs that would breed in these ponds, or the snapping turtle that would come to gorge on the frog’s eggs. No longer will I see the chimney crayfish that would rise from beneath the ground on wet nights, or the bizarre insect larvae that depend on such habitats, and the fairy shrimps will no longer dance through their watery world.
This field had been laying fallow since 1975, but was always zoned for agriculture. I honestly feel that all agricultural lands that are left unattended to for such lengthy periods of time should undergo environmental assessments prior to turning the soil for agricultural purposes again.
Amphibians are the most threatened species on Earth, mostly due to habitat destruction, global warming, and the deadly chytrid fungus. We are responsible for each and every one of these that affect the world’s amphibian population.
Below you will see a selection of photos showing the tile drainage being buried. The field is so wet and soggy that a backhoe was need to pull the tile plow through the muck and frequently it looked as though the backhoe would flip into the soft muck of the field. In the first image below you will see the before and after versions of my favorite pond. The before image was photographed in the spring of 2012 and the after image was taken last night. In both images if you look on the left side you will see the abandoned barn. In the before image the barn is hidden slightly by the tree-line.
Please click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.
Before and After
Backhoe tipping into pond while pulling tile plow through
Tractor driving through pond with weeping tile spool
View of the pond from the road after tiling – the level has dropped significantly
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Posted in Animals, Frogs and Toads, Reptiles and Amphibians, Wetlands, tagged bullfrogs, canadian geographic, chytrid fungus, frogs, Horseshoe Lake, nature photography, ontario, photography, sigma 8-16mm, sigma lenses, wetlands on April 4, 2013 |
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Bullfrog in Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
For those folks who have been following the blog for some time now you may recall my review of Sigma’s 8-16mm ultra-wide angle zoom lens. For those who are new to the blog and for those who might like to read the review of this great lens again please click here for the complete article with loads of accompanying images photographed with the lens.
In the April issue of Canadian Geographic Magazine the above photo has been used as a double-page spread for the beginning of the article ‘A Frog for the Killing‘ found on pages 46 & 47. Bullfrogs are an invasive species in British Columbia and are a very serious threat to the ecosystem in that province and must be eradicated. The frogs are not to blame – we are! Bullfrogs have actually invaded at least 15 countries as a result of importing them for the farming of frogs legs. Bullfrogs are known carriers of the deadly chytrid fungus which has decimated frog populations throughout the globe. To better understand just how this deadly fungus is affecting frog populations I urge you to please click this link.
The use of the image above as a double-page spread is a testament to the image quality that one can achieve with this amazing lens. I have primarily used the lens for bullfrog images in the wetlands of Horseshoe Lake, located near Parry Sound, Ontario. And because the lens focuses very close I am able to fill a large portion of the foreground with the frog while maintaining the vast expanse of their wetland homes. I have also used this lens with great success in my waterfall photography as well. If I had to describe this lens in three words I would have to say it is a “ton of fun” to use.
The Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses in Canada is Gentec International. I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Gentec International for loaning me this lens to create specific photographs that will be featured in my eBook on Frog Photography, which is in the writing stage and will be an extensive guide to creating stunning images of these amazing amphibians.
Please do remember to click on the above image to view the larger, sharper version.
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Posted in Caribbean, Frogs and Toads, Macro Photography, tagged amphibians, caribbean, frogs, jamaica, johnstone's whistling frog, lesser antillean whistling frog, nature photography, photography, port antonio on March 9, 2013 |
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Johnstone’s Whistling Frog (Eleutherodactylus johnstonei) with vocal sac inflated
Every night as the sun began to set during my stay at Search Me Heart in Port Antonio Jamaica, the nights would begin to fill with the choruses of the Johnstone’s Whistling Frog, also known as the Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog. This tiny little frog, which measures roughly 3/4 of an inch in length, is one of the most widely distributed frogs in the Caribbean, mostly due to trade among the islands. It would be very easy for these frog to hitch a ride among bananas and such being traded between neighboring Caribbean islands. These little frogs do not require water to reproduce as the female will deposit her eggs among leaf litter from which tiny froglets will emerge.
Prior to departing for Port Antonio, Jamaica I did a ton of research to learn of various landscape locations I would want to visit and what wildlife species may be indigenous to the region. During my research I discovered that there is roughly 27 species of frogs in Jamaica. Knowing that in advance I decided I should take along my gear that I frequently use for frog photography, however I did not really want to carry the additional weight of my Nikon 105mm micro lens, so I decided to leave that lens at home and follow my own advice here about the Nikon 80-400mm macro lens solution. By using my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens with the Canon 500D Close-up filter and my Nikon SB400 Speedlight, on a flash bracket, I was well equipped to capture these tiny frogs. I did not know that these tiny frogs would be so plentiful among the vegetation of Search Me Heart’s gardens. Each night before heading off to bed I would spend about an hour or so wandering about the lush gardens with a small flashlight, trying to located the frogs as they sang. In the photo above I had to wait patiently for this little fella to commence singing again after I discovered him among some yellowed foliage of wild banana plants and the frog below would show up virtually every night on the very same leaf to chorus. By frequently searching out these subjects I was able to capture some of my most favorite frog images to date.
Please click on each photo to see the larger, sharper version.
Johnstone’s Whistling Frog (Eleutherodactylus johnstonei)
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Posted in Birds, Frogs and Toads, Horseshoe Lake, Landscapes, ontario, tagged bird photography, Birds, frogs, Horseshoe Lake, landscape photography, muskoka, nature photography, ontario, photography, stock photography, top 12 for 2012, waterfalls, wetlands on January 1, 2013 |
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Male Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Ontario
Looking back over the past year I realized I probably photographed a little bit more wildlife than landscapes, which is some what different for me. Mostly I was photographing frogs and toads for various chapters in the frog book that I am currently writing. As a result it is easy to see why my top 12 images from 2012 contains a few frog photos
Here is a selection of a few of my favorite images created in 2012.
Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area, Ontario
Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnake, Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario
Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Ontario
Over-under juvenile Bullfrog
Willet on Liebeck Lake, Ontario
Horseshoe Lake wetland at sunset, Ontario
Common Loon with chick on Horseshoe Lake, Ontario
Zimmerman’s Poison Frog
Beaver Pond, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
View from the dock at sunset, Horseshoe Lake, Ontario
The White-breasted Nuthatch image above represents the last photograph captured for 2012. It was visiting my suet feeder set-up frequently yesterday while I was out in the blind for another round of winter songbird photography.
Wishing everybody all the best in 2013.
Happy New Year!!!
Please remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger sharper version.
See ya soon!
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Posted in Frogs and Toads, Reptiles and Amphibians, tagged amphibians, andrew mclachlan, frog photography, frogs, golden poison frogs, nature photography, photography, poison arrow frogs, poison dart frogs, ranitomeya on November 15, 2012 |
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Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis)
I have long wanted to photograph tropical species of frogs and had a wonderful opportunity to do so a couple of months ago. All of the frogs in this post are captive bred and raised in Canada. Since many of these photos will appear in the eBook I am writing on frog photography, it was of the utmost importance to me that none of the frogs photographed were wild caught specimens. One of the chapters in the eBook will provide tips and instructions on photographing captive specimens such as the ones you see here.
One of my favorites is the lovely poison dart frog that opens this blog post – the Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis). This is perhaps the deadliest of poison frogs. Its skin is coated with an alkaloid poison (batrachotoxin). It is estimated that one milligram of this poison is enough to kill 10,000 mice, 10-20 humans, or two bull elephants. Yikes! Good thing they are captive bred. Poison dart frogs tend to lose their toxicity in captivity as they are no longer feeding on the ants and termites of their rainforest homes, which is where they get their toxicity from. Nonetheless, poison has never looked so beautiful.
Here are a few additional poison dart frogs from the shoot….more to follow in a later blog post.
Please click on the photos to see the larger sharper version.
Ranitomeya amazonica (rare species in the wild)
Zimmerman’s Poison Frog (Ranitomeya variabilis)
Blessed Poison Frog (Ranitomeya benedicts)
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Posted in Agriculture, Declining Populations, Environment, Frogs and Toads, tagged agriculture, essa township, frogs, loss of habitat, nature photography, ontario, simcoe county, songbirds, toads on October 24, 2012 |
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Green Frog (male)
The two images of the male Green Frog (Rana clamitans) may very well be the last frogs I will photograph in the vernal ponds behind my home. As followers of this blog know my home backs onto an abandoned cattle pasture which has several low lying areas that fill with rain water and snow melt, thus creating vernal ponds. These ponds are temporary and dry out by the end of summer, but they do hold water long enough for numerous species of frogs and toads to reproduce. According to my dear, elderly neighbors that arrived in Canada, from Germany many, many years ago after the war, the field has been laying fallow since about 1975. This 40 acre plot of abandoned agricultural land is used by many ground nesting songbirds such as Bobolink, Meadowlark, Horned Lark and Upland Sandpipers. Deep in the ground Chimney Crayfish await the rains to emerge and breed in the vernal ponds. Hawks, Owls, Fox , and Coyote hunt the Meadow Voles that inhabit the field also. During the winter months I take my daughter skating on the frozen pond. Most importantly though are the vast numbers of frogs and toads that arrive at the vernal ponds each spring to reproduce – a sight and sound to behold. Having sat in the ponds among the frogs and toads during peak chorus, I can honestly state that they are louder than any RAMONES concert I ever attended A truly remarkable experience, but…
Green Frog and Water Scorpion
It is with great sorrow that today I report on October the 18th this has been wiped out. The field was recently sold to a farmer that has cut down every tree that lined the field to open up more fields and has since tilled the soil for the planting of crops. This of course will mean more fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. I have always believed that this little corner of nature, located in Simcoe County, would one day be wiped out for either agriculture (it has always been zoned for agriculture) or housing developments, but I do wish I did not have to witness its destruction.With amphibian populations in serious decline around the globe, largely due to human impact, such loss of habitat, even on this small 40 acre plot of land, can yield a deadly blow to the local populations of frogs and toads.
I do hope that I am wrong, but I believe that in the fields behind my home, the Spring of 2013 will be the season without song. A sad, but all too familiar occurrence in the world that struck home on October 18, 2012. Below you will see the photos of how the field looks today.
In the photo above you are looking out over the field where each spring the largest vernal pond is to be found.
In the above photograph you are looking back toward my home, and again, across the field where additional ponds are found each spring. My home can be found immediately behind the trees on the right side of the image.
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Posted in Creative Visions, eBooks, Fractalius, Frogs and Toads, Impressions in Nature, Landscapes, Presentations, tagged andrew mclachlan, country images camera club, creative visions, fractalius, landscape photography, nature photography, photography, presentations on October 15, 2012 |
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Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
On Tuesday October 16th at 8:00 p.m., which is tomorrow evening, I will be presenting at the Country Images Camera Club’s October meeting. If you happen to be in the area feel free to drop by for the presentation and do say hello if you do. The presentation will cover numerous inspiring landscape locations that may be found throughout the province of Ontario, many of which can be found in the eBook ‘A Photographer’s Guide to the Ontario Landscape‘ written by yours truly I will also be presenting how I photograph frogs and toads, winter songbirds, tips for captive wildlife photography, and also my techniques for creating inspiring artistic renditions of some of my most cherished photos.
The Country Images Camera Club presentation will be held at the:
Art Ferguson Building
16195 Bayview Avenue in Newmarket, Ontario @ 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 16th (tomorrow evening)
Hope to see you there!
Please remember to click on each of the images in this post to see the larger, sharper version.
Oxtongue River Blur
Poison Dart Frog Fractalius
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Posted in Creative Visions, Frogs and Toads, tagged bullfrogs, creative photography emini-magazine, creative visions, denise ippolito, frogs, nature photography, over-under images, photography on October 9, 2012 |
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Above is a fairly recently created, over-under juvenile Bullfrog that I photographed while at the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. To find out exactly how I managed to create this unique frog photo while staying completely dry and to see the Fractalius version too, please head over to the Creative Photography eMini-Magazine which is a free publication that is published by the very talented Denise Ippolito on a monthly basis. Once you visit the mini-mag’s home page simply enter your email in the appropriate field and press the subscribe button to receive your free monthly copy of this awesome online magazine. Enjoy!
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When it comes to photographing frogs it is rather hard to beat Red-eyed Treefrogs for their photogenic qualities. During a recent photo shoot with numerous captive bred frog species I was thrilled to be able to photograph a lovely Red-eyed Treefrog. Since treefrogs are mostly nocturnal I chose to photograph them perched on potted, tropical plants that would look like a more natural setting and used a small flash to achieve the background I desired for these images. If there is no background close enough to the frog the flash will most often render the background dark, as though the images were created at night.
When I was researching this photo shoot it was important to me that the frogs I was going to photograph were all captive bred. With frog populations in serious decline around the globe I would refuse to photograph any wild caught specimens.
Please remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, more sharper version and let us know which is your favorite Red-eyed Treefrog photo and why.
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Posted in Flowers, Frogs and Toads, tagged bullfrogs, creative photography, e-magazine, frogsacpes, nature photography, ontario, photo contests, photography, sunflowers, wetlands on September 14, 2012 |
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Whenever I am out photographing Bullfrogs I can’t resist creating some frogscape images when I come across a cooperative fellow. This male bullfrog was more than cooperative for me as he chose to hang-out under this raised lily pad leaf for three days in a row, before moving on elsewhere in the wetland. I guess it was a cool place to hang out. Photographing images like this have become easier than ever with Live View technology. To create the above image I simply brought the canoe up alongside of the frog, used my wide angle lens set to approximately 35mm, composed the photo, and auto-focused on the eye. I also used a 2-stop neutral density filter to hold back the sky. This is often a necessity for frogscapes as the foreground is usually much darker than the sky. To keep the frog square with the world I always refer to the double bubble level that is in the cameras hot-shoe.
If you haven’t checked out the latest issue of the Creative Photography eMini Magazine yet be sure to click on the link in the sidebar to see the latest issue. And while there do note the first photography contest for the magazine has been announce – The MiniMag Sunflower Photo Contest. All the details you need to know to enter the contest are on the front page of the MiniMagazine and to view some of the great images entered already check out the Facebook Photo Album here. If your image is chosen as the winning image your photo will be featured in the Creative Photography eMiniMagazine and Arthur Morris’ Birds As Art Blog. You will also receive a copy of Denise Ippolito’s must-have eBook ‘Bloomin’ Ideas’ and a free ticket to a 2 day nature photography seminar with Denise and Arthur on Staten Island, New York.
Hope to see your sunflower photos soon.
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