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Frog Song
Foreword by Jillian Sawyer

I love frogs. Iíve always loved frogs.

There are two in our backyard, probably more, but these are the two who are out on most nights when the conditions are right. They are burrowing frogs, speckled brown on fawn, with dumpy fat bodies and gorgeous dark, bulging eyes. When we first shifted here, they nearly drove us insane with their repetitive moaning call. Now we realise this is only seasonal for one or two weeks a year and we have grown accustomed to the sound.

The larger one, Quasimodo, has a deformed jaw. Nevertheless, he seems to be coping well as each time I see him he appears larger and definitely fatter! The smaller frog, Esmeralda, is about half his size and is a real sweetie.

When they are on the hunt (I think for those little moths that fly down low to the top of the grass), I turn on the outside light, catch them unawares and they freeze! As you get close to them their whole attitude screams ďGO AWAY Ė I AM A ROCK!!Ē Iím sorry, I know I shouldnít, but I just canít resist and have to pick them up for a cuddle. (Iíve even been caught outside kissing frogs, in the rain!)

Quasimodo fits quite comfortably in the cupped palms of my hands and the feel of the strength in his little Ďarmsí is quite awe inspiring. Heís getting wise to me now though, as he will attempt to escape from my hands. So I open them, lower him to the ground and off he climbs. Should I attempt to pick him up again, away he hops. Esmeralda, on the other hand, pretends she is a rock the whole time and, even when released, doesnít move from the spot until Iím inside and the light is off!

Sadly missed is the music of the massed calling of who knows how many species that used to inhabit the wintertime, swampy acreage at the rear of the house. Unfortunately, this precious wetland has now been resumed and levelled for another housing estate, whose only saving grace is that it will have a couple of lakes. So maybe soon weíll have the trilling chorus again, albeit a smaller one.

Also sadly missed, the kingfishers, rainbow bee-eaters, grey herons, white egrets and black cockatoos who stopped over, sometimes for weeks and sometimes fleetingly, their little oasis dwindling and their habitat fast disappearing. What price progress!

FOOTNOTE: I am pleased to report that at the time of going to press, the frogs are starting to sing again at the Ďlakesí. So some frogs have survived and a few herons and ducks are appearing, but I fear it will be a long time before we hear the massed chorus again!

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