14 August 2011 – Frogging for our challenge…

With the conditions looking like they were going to be good to find some frogs, we joined Cliff and Suretha Dorse, Barrie Rose and Rob Leslie for a little expedition out into the Hottentots Holland area in the hope of possibly finding a couple of new species for our challenge list. The main target of the day was going to be Montane Marsh Frog, a species only discovered and described for the first time in 1989. This smallish frog, not getting much more than 30mm in size, has a rather restricted range in mountain fynbos in the Western Cape and can be quite difficult to find…

We headed out to the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, an area in which we had found them in previously, in the hope that we might be lucky again.  What we were not aware of and were not told about at the main reception of the reserve was that there was a mountain bike race in the reserve today as well…

Once parked at the main offices, we began walking along the track which runs parallel with the river and almost instantly started hearing these frogs calling along with good numbers of De Villiers’ Moss Frogs, a near impossible thing to find! But the area they were calling from did not look all that friendly for finding them, so we pushed on a bit to where we had previously found them, about a 1,5km walk from the car park. As we were casually ambling along the track, it came as quite a surprize to suddenly have the first mountain bikes round the corner just ahead of us and suddenly bear down on us! We managed to jump out of the way JUST in time and were then a lot more cautious for the rest of the walk as the groups intermittently passed us at high speed on this narrow track. It could have ended up a lot worse than it did…

It didn’t take long, once at the site, to actually locate the frogs and, over the course of a couple of hours there, we probably found as many as 10 individuals. The only place to actually lie down and take photos of these frogs was in the track, so it made for some interesting times as one person had to keep a look out for on-coming bikes as the rest of us took photos… and occasionally had to take evasive action as the shout of “BIKE!” went up…

Montane Marsh Frog

After having completed the walk back to the car park and having a bite to eat and something to drink, discussions were then around what we should target next. Debating went around and around for while before we decided we would head off to Betty’s Bay to see if we could find a Landdroskop Moss Frog.

Now it must be said that this frog would be a full lifer for us – we have searched for it a number of times in the past, but without success. This tiny frog, described as recently as 1994, lives at the bases of thick Restios and is pretty much impossible to find most of the time. But the Dorses are probably some of the best “Moss Frog finders” that we have ever come across, so we were not going to give up the opportunity to have another go at it with them present.

Arriving at Betty’s Bay, we realised that we had not packed our gum boots in, a real frogging “no-no”, so we were restricted to the edge of the marsh while Cliff, Suretha and Barrie headed deeper in. Some intensive searching followed for at least an hour before suddenly Cliff was heard to bellow “GOT ONE!” Once again, the Dorses did not disappoint! The frog, a gorgeous little animal, was then brought back to the road where we created a little platform with some moss on it so that we could photograph it. What a fantastic end to a great day out! A lifer frog and two new frog species for our challenge list…

Landdroskop Moss Frog

Photographing the Landdroskop Moss Frog

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~ by hardakerwildlife on August 20, 2011.

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