Amphibious Armies

Following two weeks of hot, dry weather, the seasonal lake at the Forum Nature Area, in Columbia, Missouri, is rapidly shrinking.  Broad mudflats now border the lake and even the deepest pools hold less than a foot of water.

This morning, thousands of froglets crowded the shallows, peering from the surface or basking on the muddy shoreline.  Having recently morphed from tadpoles, they seemed to relish their amphibious talents, hopping in and out of the water, oblivious to the dangers that lurked nearby; indeed, great blue herons, green herons, snapping turtles and northern water snakes are common residents of that wetland and all dine on amphibians.

For now, the legions of froglets would overwhelm any predator and their first (and perhaps only) season in the sun is reason enough to throw caution to the wind.  Within six weeks or so, an autumn chill will descend on this floodplain refuge and those that have escaped predation will retreat to a mud-caked tomb, there to await the warm rains of spring.