Mid-September to early November are great months to look for the funky Turtle Frog in Perth, when during Spring rains these frogs come to the surface to look for mates. Once coupled up, they dig burrows up to 1.2m under the sandy soils where they remain together for an extended period of time (very unusual in frogs,) until a few months later when it is time to mate. The first Autumn rains then provide moisture for their eggs to develop without the tadpole stage underground.
The Banksia Woodland of Bold Park with its sandy soils and abundance of termites is great habitat for the Turtle Frog, and so for the last eight years during Spring I have visited Bold Park after dark and sucessfully searched for this species. Heavy late afternoon, evening showers are a pre-requisite for a Turtle Frog hunt.
Banksia Species at Bold Park L-R (Banksia prionotes and Banksia menziesii)
Finding Turtle Frogs by Triangulation
The best way to find Turtle Frogs is by their calls. When a frog croaks, gradually approach the location where the sound is eminating from with the headlight off, until you are within a few feet of the frog. Cupping the hands behind the ears can help pinpoint the sound. This can be a difficult process when frogging alone.
Ideally there are two people and this process becomes a whole lot easier by using the method of triangulation. The two people stand at opposite sides of a calling frog. When the frog calls, both persons point in the direction from where they anticipate the sound is originating. The frog is found close to the intersection point of these two imaginary lines.
The Reabold Hill Carpark, (off Oceanic Drive,) is closed at night so I park at the bollards and walk up the hill. I have seen both Marbled Gecko and Southwestern Spiny-tailed Geckos on the road and in the bush around Reabold Hill.
Southwestern Spiny-tailed Gecko.
During an October visit in 2017 it was clear from the lack of recent rain, and therefore calling frogs, that this night was an outside chance for the Turtle Frogs but I gave it a red hot go anyway. I didn’t find any frogs but I did find a pair of Brushtail Possums (mother and juvenile,) and this was a first for me at Bold Park. It is fantastic that this species is hanging on in this urban location, despite the pressures of cats and foxes.
Juvenile Brushtail Possum.
After a few hours with no called frogs I capitulated and returned home. No sooner had I got into bed when I heard the loudest peal of thunder! It was so loud it felt like the bed shook! Then came the rain lashing the roof. I tossed and turned and knew that sleep was impossible knowing that these conditions were now perfect for the Turtle Frogs, so I made returned to Reabold Hill.
The croak of Turtle Frogs was immediately audible as I set out into the Banksia Woodland. I forgot what a tricky species the Turtle Frog can be when trying to locate them. As soon as you locate a frog by sound and move closer they stop calling. This went on for two hours when a fresh bank of thunderstorms rolled in from the Indian Ocean.
Goodness gracious me! It was awesome to be out in the wild weather, the thunder was exhilarating, the rain lashing down was exciting the frogs further, and the lightening was a feast for the eyes. I was enjoying it tremendously until I remembered I was on the highest point on the Swan Coastal Plain and therefore very much at risk from a lightning strike.
I spent the remainder of this latest storm back in the car, with the safely of four thick rubber tyres to insulate me from 1 billion joules of energy.
Once the latest storm front had passed, I gave it one last go for the Turtle Frogs, and with patience and a little luck came very close to one calling. Finally, with a sweep of the beam, there under a patch of vegetation was what looked like a small blob of chewing gum, Myobatrachus gouldii in all its glory!
Turtle Frog (Myobatrachus gouldii.)
It was approaching 3am and I was exhausted. I was happy to be finally heading to bed to sleep, now having found, what must be the coolest frog in Australia. Western Australia’s own endemic Turtle Frog!!
The other two species of frog found at Bold Park are the Motorbike Frog and Banjo Frog. These species are covered in South West Frogs – Western Australia – Motorbikes and Banjos
Banjo Frog – Bold Park.
Motorbike Frog – Bold Park.
# Nature Never Fails to Impress!