Thursday, July 17, 2008

3817 Bullfrogs

This past weekend I went down to Long Island to meet Shawn as he returned from a class in Kenya (I'm bugging him to post his pictures). We spent some time herping and some time birding the coastal beaches. The highlight of the trip was seeing my lifer Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) from the beach at Cupsogue. This was not just a new species for me, but in fact my first species in the whole order Procellariiformes (the tubenoses). I realized afterwards that the only remaining bird order in North America for me to see are flamingos (Phaenicopteriformes).

Shawn scanning for boobies shearwaters

We also saw plenty of the common birds of the coast, but we missed all of my other main goals - the Arctic and Roseate terns in the area, and the two salt sparrows - Seaside and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed. We just hit the right places at the wrong time of day/tide, but those mistakes led us to sit around scanning for seabirds and spotting the shearwaters.

Willet (Tringa semipalmata)

Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus argentatus and L. marinus)

We also spent some time herping with a friend of Shawn's in the pine barrens of eastern Long Island, looking for Eastern Hognose Snakes known from that location. We tried last year with no luck, but this year we did even worse and saw but a single species of herp... the Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

At a drying-up pond we discovered approximately a bajillion metamorph bullfrogs and dead tadpoles. I decided to take some panorama shots of the whole pond and attempt to get an exact count of them all - yes, I'm that strange. Here is my stitched-together panorama of the pond. I had to split it into two photos because I couldn't make them any wider:

In case you can't see, there are swarms of little metamorphs and dead tadpoles everywhere:

Here are my marked up panoramas:

I counted a total of 3817 bullfrogs, of which 1166 (30.5%) were alive, the rest were dead. I believe the live count to be accurate, although the dead count is a little less accurate because the bodies were stacked like cordwood. Basically this total is a very conservative underestimate, because I don't know how deep the piles of dead tadpoles were, and I missed portions of the pond in my pictures.

Here's a short, bad video of me walking around the pond:

I need to find something better to do with my time now. Who else can get to say they individually counted 3817 frogs?

One final find in the pine barrens was this dying moth. Anyone have an ID?


  1. not sure of what kind of arctiid you found, but they're in IL and darn uncooperative when alive!

  2. Wow, that's a lot of bullfrogs. About your panos, what program are you using to stitch them? I'd recomment autopano pro if you're willing to pay, and autostitch ( if you're not.

    As for the moth, it's definitely in the saturniidae family. My guess is that it's either a female Pink-striped Oakworm Moth (Anisota virginiensis), or a very close relative. (

    Love the blog!

  3. I have no idea what that furry little guy is, but the bullfrogs are great.

  4. Thanks for the comments! Anisota looks like a match, not sure if I could pin down the species. Thanks for the software suggestions, I just used Microsoft Digital Image Editor and MS Paint. Worked well enough.

  5. Photoshop also has a good photo stitching program. I use it to stitch together close-ups of body parts for outlining in Illustrator when I describe a new species.

  6. Also a good suggestion. I haven't had much experience with photoshop, but I've been learning illustrator for generating figures. How many new species have you described, Kevin?

  7. 1 shrimp and 4 anemones. Pubs are accepted right now and should be out sometime this year. Stay tuned to my blogs for more!

    In PS, under File go to Automate --> Photomerge. You play around with the settings. I find the automatic setting won't align your pictures correctly all the time but it is easy to just click and move the image to line it up. Maybe I should post a primer on it using an example from my work.

  8. That's awesome! You invertebrate folks have a real advantage in the new species department. I'll have to switch to full-time herpetology if I want to discover something, there aren't too many birds left... (thinking to myself I should update my new species list for June and July).

    If you post a primer on PS, I'll try it out on the computers at the library.