A leopard hopped…

This is a Southern Leopard Frog.  Isn’t he perfectly camouflaged in the mulch beside the Blue Lagoon (former Infinity Pool)?  Teddy and I were so excited about a new garden pet and ran for cameras.  ‘Leo’ sat patiently and posed for the paparazzi.  Then we Googled him.  They are indigenous and live in the south east portion of the US.  There are 23 types of Leopard frog in the Americas – who knew?  I loved the names of the unusual species such as Bigfoot Leopard Frog, Vegas Valley Leopard Frog and my favorite, Montezuma’s Leopard Frog.

They need to live by water so I guess the containment pond is close enough.  He has a very distinctive call – Their croaking, chuckling call has been compared to the sound of rubbing an inflated balloon.  That is one of the many reasons why I have to wear earplugs at night…  Judging the cacophony outside my window there are thousands hundreds living in our reserve.

National Geographic states:

Leopard frogs will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths. They sit still and wait for prey to happen by, then pounce with their powerful legs. They eat beetles, ants, flies, worms, smaller frogs, including their own species, and even birds, and garter snakes.

WOW!  That is an impressive little predator with quite an appetite – and most welcome in our well stocked jungle preserve.

Then Teddy and I realized we had seen a leopard frog before.  When we first moved into the street, I was enchanted by all the pumpkins you could buy in autumn.  It was a very hot, steamy October and we kept hearing frogs outside the front door.  Later we realized that the wee pumpkins had rotted with delicious larvae inside, attracting all the frogs.  Even Tim Burton couldn’t create a Halloween scenario like that one!

In retrospect, we wonder if this little green tree frog was hopping away from the gluttonous leopard frog near the pumpkins… It really is a jungle out there!

This is our delightful Frog Lady guide on a trip to El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rica. The Coqui Frog is the symbol of Puerto Rico and sings all night long. This is a link to my post about El Yunque.

references – National Geographic, USNF and Wikipedia

El Yunque, Puerto Rica

rain over mountain This is El Yunque, the rainforest of Puerto Rico. It took me forever to decide on a photograph that somehow encapsulated everything I felt about the rainforest. This one shows the height, the rain, the coolness and the endless shades of green in the forest. El Yunque was absolutely magical and such a change in climate from hot, sunny San Juan. I researched the various tours around Puerto Rico and finally decided on Eco Tours which took small groups in a shuttle bus to the rainforest. I called from Texas and although we could understand each other, my Scottish accent was making communication difficult. Spelling my name was trick; K for Kettle, A for Alpha and then she stopped me, saying, “You are saying E but then Alpha”. I explained that it was my Scottish accent that made my Es and As sound interchangeable. We got through the name but then I managed to give my credit card numbers in Spanish, so all was well. The Senora told me that we must wait for the bus at Café Berlin in the Plaza Colon at 9 am. I burst out laughing as it sounded like an assignation that you would give a spy. Nevertheless, on our second day in Puerto Rico, we were waiting in Plaza Colon. At precisely 9 am, a lady turned up in a bus wearing a tree frog hat. I was convinced she was her guide but the company name was different. About 10 minutes later, she came back again and asked our names, we had been subcontracted to another company – another small miscommunication. We then picked up the other tourists from various hotels and proceeded south to the rainforest. Click on the red link to read more. POSTCARD FROM EL YUNQUE – click here

San Juan, Puerto Rico

COASTAL VISTA
This is the wonderful vista overlooking San Felipe Del Morro Fort in the Old San Juan, Puerto Rico with the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Finally, we got the opportunity to go on a real vacation to somewhere warm and interesting. Puerto Rico is an American Territory, perhaps, one day, the 51st state, in a strategic part of the Caribbean. It is part of the Antilles in the south west of the Caribbean Sea. The original natives are the Taino and it was settled by the Spanish in the 1500s; an important part of the Spice Trade Route back to Europe. Slaves were brought there to tend the sugar cane plantations and most of them were from Congo. Today’s Puerto Ricans’ are an intriguing blend of European, Native and African and these traditions are reflected in the cuisine, dancing and heritage. Only 20% of islanders speak English and the rest speak a Spanish dialect which has Taino and African words in the patois. One of the locals told me that it would already have been a State if they had any money, or oil in the local water, and perhaps that’s a good thing. There is a familiarity and yet a unique foreign feel to the island. It is a volcanic island so there is little diversity in the fauna and what animals and plants are there were brought by air, sea or human. One little creature makes a very distinctive noise, all over the island – Coquí. It is a little frog, with an onomatopoetic name for the mating call – kockee, kockee. Once you have your ear in, that is all you can hear and there are 17 separate species in Puerto Rico. There are number of distinct ecosystems on the island and we went from hot, windy San Juan to cool, tropical rainforest in just a couple of hours. There is also a dry forest and bioluminescent lake. Old San Juan is full of original buildings with amazing hilly cobble-stone streets. A British trade ship left it’s ballast of iron ore centuries ago and they were carved into wonderful blue, iridescent cobbles that shimmer in daylight and look like moonstones at dusk. Puerto Rico was so amazing that I have divided it into two posts and the next one will be about El Yunque, the rainforest. Click on the red link to see more fabulous photos of architecture and the people of San Juan. POSTCARD FROM SAN JUAN – click here