Amphibians: Green Frog

Photo of Green Frog

Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans) are common New England natives. Often found at the edges of wetlands (perhaps in the company of American Bullfrogs), Green Frogs typically leap to wet safety when they sense human approach. They have skin folds (called dorsolateral ridges) that extend from behind their eyes, a feature that American Bullfrogs lack. Male calls sound like single notes plucked on a banjo. If you need help getting close to a Green Frog, I recommend consulting a young amphibian-loving child. They seem to know what it takes to sneak up on these aquatic creatures.

Photo of Green Frog

Foraging Wild Fruit: Dwarf Huckleberry

Photo of Dwarf Huckleberry fruit

Dwarf Huckleberry (Gaylussacia bigeloviana) is a short native shrub of bogs and fens. This attractive member of the Heath family (Ericaceae) has white bell-shaped flowers in June and July which become juicy black fruits by August. Dwarf Huckleberry leaves are shiny on top, are somewhat leathery, though not evergreen, and have pointed tips. Leaves are also covered with resin dots, and leaf margins are fringed with fine hairs. The fruits, too, are conspicuously covered with short hairs (note especially the green fruits pictured below) and contain crunchy seeds.

Unlike Black Huckleberry, a close relative found in forests and fields nearly throughout New England, Dwarf Huckleberry has a more limited distribution. This shrub doesn't grow in Vermont, and is rare in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire; therefore, bogs and fens in parts of Maine and Massachusetts are where to look for this tasty wild food. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)

Bog Plants: White-fringed Bog-orchid

Photo of White-fringed Bog-orchid

Back at the bog, as Rose Pogonia blossoms began to wither, the bud-topped stalks of White-fringed Bog-orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis) were rising to the occasion. By the following week, many long-spurred, fringed-lower-lip flowers had opened, with many more on the way. Often living alongside Sphagnum moss, this acidic soil specialist prefers moist sites.

Identifying this plant was straight-forward using Newcomb's Wildflower Guide (Flower type: Irregular Flowers; Plant type: Wildflower with Alternate Leaves; Leaf type: Leaves Entire) and Go Botany's simple key to New England Orchids. You can find more photos of this white-flowered beauty at Go Botany. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)


New England Swallows

Photo of Gathering of Swallows

Six species of swallows (family Hirundinidae) spend the summer months in New England: Tree, Barn, Bank, Cliff, Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Purple Martins. Weighing just half an ounce, the Bank Swallow is the lightest member of the group. Purple Martins are the heaviest, weighing about four times as much. Depending on the species, they nest in tree cavities, in nest boxes, in culverts, in sandbanks, under the eaves of buildings, on cliff faces, under bridges, and in martin hotels. You can learn more about these species and hear samples of their voices over at All About Birds. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)