“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Silent Night

Every spring I look forward to opening the windows at night so that I can hear the night sounds. The frogs always put on a serenade that helped me drift off to sleep.  I've been waiting and waiting and I finally realized the other night that it's summer and they aren't coming. The entire yard and the lake that is just outside my back door is completely silent.  Deathly silent.

No crickets. No Tree frogs or Spring peepers. 
I have never experienced anything like this 
since I've lived here......  
Just utter silence. 

Last night I woke up and after our rain thought surely I would hear them, but no, nothing.  I did hear the wail of a train whistle far away, but that was all.  We have never had a lot of car traffic in our area and I think you literally could have heard a pin drop, it was so quiet. I actually went to the window thinking perhaps my husband had closed it for some reason, but it was open, there were just no sounds.

Most of you've seen my backyard before. Lots of big trees and shrubs, native plants and garden flowers everywhere.  We have a lovely little lake which fills with peepers every spring and the trees and bushes are full of green tree frogs. This year there's no sign of my tiny musical friends.  I searched my yard and they used to hang out on the window sill or I would find them sitting on a leaf in the garden.  My beloved little frogs are gone. As I searched the yard I counted 5 small bumblebees, 1 honeybee, 2 wasps and 2 dragonflies. This year my husband saw one small toad the other day.  So far this year I've seen one Monarch butterfly...  That's all..... I look at my red bee balm flowers and wonder, "Where are the Bees?", there used to be hundreds of these winged pollinators ....

At dusk, the area is usually alive with sounds. The crickets used to chirp and the Green tree frogs and Spring peepers (tiny little bark colored frogs that make a lovely chirpy sound) are gone. Everything is SILENT.

I'm heartbroken!! What is going on?! I have lived here for almost 20 years and nothing like this has ever happened before. Was it the low snowfall amount last year that left them unprotected from the winter frosts as they hibernated? Is it some kind of pesticide or toxic chemical that has been sprayed around the neighborhood? Have the raccoons and other predators eaten all my musical friends?

This spring and summer has been strange. 
I feel forlorn, bereft and cheated. 
It hasn't felt like spring or summer without them.

Spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, from Anoka County, MN

The video and photo above are of the Spring Peeper, I very dull little fellow, until he begins to sing....

The other favorite frog that I used to see all the time in the garden is what I called a Green Tree Frog, actually it is a Gray Tree Frog. See the photo below and listen to him sing...

Cope's gray treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis 
The Cope's Gray tree frog can change from green to a mottled brown at will. They also sing. 

We've noticed the Bee and Butterfly populations have plummeted and since toxic chemicals and global warming have been linked to those I thought I would do a bit more reading about my froggy friends.

Let me backtrack for a moment though, I want to tell you that it is very likely that even though I or my close neighbors don't use toxic chemicals, they are still getting into our lake. This development was built during the early 1960's.  We had the good fortune to visit with the original homeowner who lived here for almost 40 years.  He told us that for the first 10 years this little lake was pristine. You could swim and even eat any fish that you caught out of the lake back then.

That all came to and end during the mid 1970's.  After development in this area started to get crowded and all the streets, driveways and parking lots were put in, they started having flooding.  The brilliant idea was to use the little lakes around the area as collection or containment ponds for the water run off from all of those polluted areas.  All of the trash that you see in the street or parking lots ended up washed into our lakes.... no filter, no settlement pond, just down into the gutter and right into our lakes. So all the chemicals put onto the yards is washed in along with all the other debris.   It is not hard to imagine that the lake has all sorts of toxic chemicals in it that are especially harmful to small delicate creatures like frogs and toads. So, I have to wonder......

Is this the reason?

Impact Of Neonicotinoids On The Environment And Wildlife And Human Health
(source- read full article here)

The AIDS in wildlife which is now upon us, in which massive epidemics of unusual infective pathogens have caused deaths and declines in a variety of wildlife: amphibians, bats, birds, invertebrates (including all pollinators) is caused, not by a virus, but by a chemical. To be precise, a variety of chemicals can cause it; but the main culprits are the NEONICOTINOID INSECTICIDES. Unlike human AIDS, wildlife AIDS it is untreatable. And the chemicals causing it are persistent in the environment.

Amphibians, particularly tadpoles, are considered to be an environmental indicator because of their unique sensitivity to pollutants. The WWF Living Planet Report 2010 has shown that biodiversity is declining faster in freshwater, than in any other biome, including coral reefs and tropical forests. In 2011, the study in Nature said that amphibian population declines far exceed those of other vertebrate groups. In 2011 Mendelson, who graduated in 1989, wrote: “I am a taxonomist and I have seen my career vacillate between the thrill of discovering new species and the chill of tracking extinction events – including species that I described”.

The image below is from yet another article....

For more information about safe gardening practices read this.....
Beautiful Death...

I will continue waiting for my little friends, perhaps I will hear some when the weather begins to cool again.  I hope this is just a temporary thing and not the end of a beautiful occurrence, something that I have to admit, 
I had become accustomed too.  

As they say, you often don't truly appreciate things until they are gone.

~ Diane ~

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celebrate Independence Day

Wishing you lots of Fun, Fireworks and Food 
on this day of our nation's birth!