‘These pictures accurately represent the state of the Toad Tunnel as of 1/16/2005’
photo from Daviswiki.org.
...I don’t see frogs or toads around Davis much, although the ubiquitous herons and egrets presumably see a few more than I do. Of course, even though I don’t often see them I know they are here. The first calm night after a spring rainstorm roils in the sex-crazed calls of thousands of Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris regilla). Other members of this ‘chorus frog’ genus fill the same pandemonious role across other parts North America.
Davis’ infamous ‘toad tunnel’, lauded in a children’s book and lambasted by the Daily Show, probably serves mostly treefrogs, if anyone. Though both Bufo and Spea (that’s toads, sensu-stricto and sensu-spado, if we can call a spade a spade) are liable to be around here somewhere.
The tunnel was an effort to mitigate frog-cakes resulting from the construction of a highly trafficked overpass. Reportedly, the amphibians first eschewed the tunnel, then fried themselves on the lights installed to light their way, and finally emerged into the waiting gullet of savvy anurovorous avians waiting on the other side.
Never Give Up, copper and steel by Paul Hubler (1997).
Sadly, the frogs I’m most likely to encounter in Davis are bad old American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). The presence of these alien invaders is usually announced by a telltale plop as I walk through the UCD arboretum. They pose a far more serious threat to native amphibians, through competition and predation, than 100,000,000 Firestones.
Frog diversity generally increases as you head out of the Central Valley and into the Coast Ranges or Sierra foothills or up into the Klamath. A handful of endemic toads are sprinkled throughout the mountains across the state. The hills are also the domain of Mark Twain’s celebrated jumping frog, the Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii). The folks of Angel’s Camp still have an annual frog jumping contest, but the Red-legged Frog is probably more cursed than celebrated these days, at least among developers hoping to squeeze a thousand home subdivision into a charming mountain valley.
Vintage Postcard from Angel’s Camp.
The true amphibian masters of the mountains don’t jump, and don’t sing but they can wriggle like heck and we’ll meet them next.