Our Tadpole Pond

Tadpole Pond has a long history.  At the turn of the century, our little pond was kept full most of the year from ground seepage associated with a nearby spring.  In 2005, for unknown reasons, White Oak Spring moved further down into the Valley of the Roughnecks, leaving our tiny pond as a home for tadpoles only after a rain.  Not wanting our (also tiny) friends to suffer for lack of a home, action was taken. The White Oak Nature Center committee began seeking help and the community responded.  They did so by building the pond we see and enjoy today.  The maintenance of the pond is not without its problems but judging by the amphibian occupancy rate, it is a raging success.   With the pond having a variety of occupants, some questions have arisen about the nature of the occupying animals.  As every researcher knows, in order to answer those questions, further study is needed.  To that end, I have created this post.  I invite students, teachers, naturalists, staff and community members to visit and help us learn about this small and varied environment.  Believing it to be appropriate to start the investigation with the ponds namesake, we’ll investigate the tadpoles present.
But what kind of tadpoles do we have?

Tadpoles from What Frogs?

Walking up to the pond, it is easy to spot tadpoles scurrying around the rocks but what kind of frogs will they grow to be.  One way, to make a good guess, is to find out what kind of adult frogs and toads visit the pond.  Though many adult frogs and toads (Is “adult frog” redundant?) can be spotted around the pond it is often not easy to do so.  But, with an evening visit, the identity of every frog present can be discovered using a single sense – the sense of hearing.  How is this possible!?  Well, it turns out that East Texas only has 16 species of frogs and toads out of the 47 or so kinds that live in Texas.  We have this “fact” from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).  If this information needs to be changed, and it may, TPWD wants to know.  In fact, you can help them keep their knowledge current by joining the

TPWD: Texas Nature Trackers: Texas Amphibian Watch

and become a field researcher or, as I like to say, a Citizen Scientist.  Check out the document and give it a try.  If you find it interesting and you want formal training on this program you may contact TPWD directly, the East Texas Chapter Master Naturalist, or me.

But back to identifying Frogs and Toads by sound….
Sitting by the pond in the evening (yes, you are allowed to do so) with ears open, you will hear a lot of sounds.  While it is easy to confuse some of the sounds with those of birds and insects, proximity to the pond (our pond or any pond) will help sort the sounds out.  You will quickly be able to say, “Oh that is Bufo valliceps!
 That would be our Gulf Coast Toad, though we have no coast, we have a lot of those toads around here.  Click on the link and hear what that animal sounds like.  Want to hear/learn them all?  Check out this list.

These are our East Texas Frogs and their Sounds –

East Texas Toad – Bufo woodhousii velatus

Gulf Coast Toad – Bufo valliceps

Woodhouse’s Toad – Bufo woodhousii

Northern Cricket Frog – Acris crepitans

Cope’s Gray Treefrog – Hyla chrysoscelis

Green Treefrog – Hyla cinerea

Gray Treefrog – Hyla versicolor

Northern Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer crucifer

Upland (Now separate form Western CF species) Chorus Frog – Pseudacris triseriata/feriarum

Rio Grande Chirping Frog – Eleutherodactylus (Syrrhophus) cystignathoides

Eastern Narrowmouth Toad – Gastrophryne carolinensis

Hurter’s Spadefoot – Scaphiopus (hurterii) holbrookii

Southern Crawñsh Frog – Rana areolata

Bullfrog – Rana catesbeiana

Green (Bronze) Frog – Rana clamitans

Southern Leopard Frog – Rana sphenocephala

Teachers – K-5, especially you science teachers….  Would you like to investigate our amphibians in a more casual manor?   Check this link out.


Have Fun – More to Come!