Texas Amphibian Watch Monitoring in 2014

By Sandie Mayfield, Sue Anderson, Beth Duncan, and Kathy McCormack

CAMN Amphibian Watch team from 2013
CAMN Amphibian Watch team from prior year. Photo by Maggie Mayfield

The Capital Area Master Naturalists (CAMN) had five teams performing TPWD’s Texas Amphibian Watch (TAW) Adopt-A-Frog-Pond monitoring in 2014. Nocturnal frog and toad calls were monitored on a monthly basis at Bauerle Ranch Park (formerly Slaughter Creek Greenbelt) and Mary Moore Searight Park in south Austin, Lake Creek Dam in north Austin, Devine Lake in Leander, and Berry Springs Preserve in north Georgetown. Bauerle Ranch Park is 306 acres of mostly unimproved city park land with a small pond formed by an old ranch road spillway and fed by a tributary creek to Slaughter Creek. Mary Moore Searight Park is a city park that includes a portion of Slaughter Creek. The Lake Creek site is a dammed up natural creek drainage area. Devine Lake is a 16-acre Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) lake next to a 45-acre city park. Berry Springs Preserve is a passive county park with a spring-fed pond and nearby creek. Water levels were generally below average this year due to lingering drought conditions.

In 2014, six CAMNers, seven supporters, and 10 guests of Bauerle Ranch Park logged a total of 12 monitoring hours (Volunteer Time = 86 hours) across 12 months monitoring seven amphibian species at Bauerle Ranch Pond: Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Bullfrog, Gulf Coast Toad, Green Treefrog, Cliff Chirping Frog, Northern Cricket Frog, and Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad. Eastern Screech-Owls, Great Horned Owls, and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were the nocturnal bird species observed. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were also often active around the pond at sunset and a bit thereafter. This was the fifth year of monitoring at this location with Jerry Mayfield as site coordinator.

In 2014 six CAMNers, seven supporters, and eight guests logged a total of 12 monitoring hours (Volunteer Time = 91 hours) across 12 months and observed six amphibian species at Mary Moore Searight Park: Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Gulf Coast Toad, Green Treefrog, Cope’s Gray Treefrog, Cliff Chirping Frog, and Northern Cricket Frog. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were also occasionally observed around the pond. This was our fifth year of monitoring at this location with Jerry Mayfield and Sandie Mayfield as site coordinators.

In 2014, 11 CAMNers and five regular visitors logged over 609 roundtrip miles and over 50 roundtrip hours to participate in a total of 12 monitoring hours (Volunteer Time = 73 hours) and observed six amphibian species at Lake Creek Dam: Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Northern Cricket Frog, Gulf Coast Toad, Green Tree Frog, Cliff Chirping Frog, and Rio Grande Chirping Frog. One nocturnal bird species was also observed during one of the 12 months: Eastern Screech-Owl. This was our fourth year of monitoring at this location, and Sue Anderson is the site coordinator.

Devine Lake is CAMN’s newest TAW site. From May through December 2014, four CAMNers, three Good Water Master Naturalists, and 11 guests logged over 592 roundtrip miles and over 19 roundtrip hours to participate in a total of eight monitoring hours (Volunteer Time = 47 hours) and observed five amphibian species at Devine Lake: Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Gulf Coast Toad, Northern Cricket Frog, Green Treefrog, and Bullfrog. This was our first year of monitoring at this location, and Beth Duncan is the site coordinator.

In 2014, 39 people (a mix of CAMNers, Good Water Master Naturalists, children, grandchildren, and obliging spouses) logged 2,885 roundtrip miles and over 71 roundtrip hours for a total of 12 monitoring hours (Volunteer Time = 105.0 hours), and observed the same six amphibian species as last year at Berry Springs Preserve: Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Gulf Coast Toad, Bullfrog, Green Treefrog, Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad, and Northern Cricket Frog. May was our busiest month with all six of these species. Four nocturnal bird species were also observed during seven of the 12 months: Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Chuck-will’s-widow, and Common Nighthawk. This was our sixth year of monitoring at this location, and Kathy McCormack is the site coordinator.

Team support for this effort has been outstanding – in addition to the site coordinators, participants included A.J. Senchack, Alicia Nelson, Andy Swain, Bill Dodd, Billye Adams, Bob Kamper, Bonnie & Leroy Sladek, C.R. Smith, Carolyn Doolittle, Christie Gardner, Christine McCulloch, Cindy Stone, Cole & Randy & Meghan Duncan, Cynthia & Jack Hall, Dawn & Alexis & Olivia Cygiel, Glenn & Mary Jo Kleinert, Heike & Dick Laudien, Jackie Davis, Jason Cox, Jeanette Scott, Josh Henslee, Larry & Levi & Marek Swift, Lois Koho, Lori Merlino, Maggie & Chris Mayfield, Marcia Sims, Mary Beth Kean, Mary Kay & Chuck Sexton, Mikael Behrens, Mike Brasel, Myra Weaver, Pam & Mike Goolsby, Pat & Harvey Shirk, Patty Collier, Peyton Howell, Reggie & Linda Leuty, Robert Hocher, Shirley & David Lavergne, Susan Blackledge, Vicki Zardiackas, Wilbert Ridder, and Zuzanne Moore. Since we monitor for the hour or so after sunset, a group provides safety in numbers in these public places. In addition, a team assures that there will be monitoring coverage of the site every month (i.e., not everyone has to make it every month). Plus, more eyes and ears mean that we observe more things – not just the amphibians and birds, but lots of other critters and plants, as well.

In 2015, we plan to continue TAW monitoring at these five sites. Visit CAMN’s TAW Story Map at http://bit.ly/1nD8ivz to learn more about the program and locations if you think you might like to join the crepuscular crowd this year!