Texas Amphibian Watch Class at John Bunker Sands Wetlands, Seagoville
My thirteen year old son and I attended a Texas Nature Tracker Amphibian Watch class at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center. These “citizen scientist” classes are a great way to learn about the fauna of Texas, and ways we can help Texas Parks and Wildlife in keeping track of it!
Our family absolutely loves the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, but getting to visit the center, and the wetlands, at night was an incredible treat!
Wildlife Biologist Lee Ann Linam and Aquatic Biologist Marsha May led us through the calls of common frogs and toads in Texas. Frogs and toads will generally call to find a mate. Some, like the Cajun Chorus Frog, prefer colder temperatures, while most like it warmer and during or just after a rain.
After we felt somewhat comfortable in naming some of the more common frogs and toads, we left the center and headed out on the boardwalk to listen! It was so exciting to be out in that environment in the dark, and amazing how many creatures you can hear when you listen, and know what you are listening for!
Once you have learned to recognize the call of the frogs, there are many opportunities for anyone to help Texas Parks and Wildlife in tracking frogs and toads, which are important indicator species for the overall health of our Texas ecosystems.
Families, friends, schools and scout groups can adopt a local pond and make routine night-time visits to count the frog and toad calls they hear. Information is recorded, including not just the number of calls, but also the air and water temperature, wind, water level, barometric pressure, humidity and recent rainfall.
Records are kept on a yearly basis, and sent in to Texas Amphibian Watch at the end of the year.
The purpose of Amphibian Spotters is to not just concentrate on one location, but several different ones. It can be a wetland you are visiting on vacation, or even just an evening.
Cricket Frog Watch
A great way to get started, especially with young children, is a Cricket Frog Watch. These little frogs are numerous, although their numbers appear to be dwindling, which is why they need our help! The distinctive call of the cricket frog, which sounds like 2 marbles being hit together, is easy for children and adults to recognize, and they will call day or night. In fact, you can take a pair of marbles to a pond and chances are they will answer you!
Texas Frog & Toad Survey
Part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, the survey is done by driving a random map, with 10 stops no less than 1/2 mile apart. They ask that you run this route 3-4 times a year, and listen for 5 minutes at each stop, recording and reporting your data.
i Naturalist is another great way to engage children, or anyone in helping keep track of amphibians or other animals! Visitors can log in and record photos taken from their mobile phones. My kids are really enjoying iNaturalist, and it’s becoming a part of all our excursions!
To find out more, or get started as with Amphibian Watch, click HERE to be taken to their page with Texas Parks and Wildlife! Good Luck and let us know how you enjoy it!
We had about a 20 minute break during class, and my son and I headed out to do some quick exploring around the wetlands! The Nature Center has classrooms for visiting students on field trips, and resident “pets” including a corn snake and two young alligators!
An amazing location for birders, the wetlands is a man-made project to divert water from the Trinity River to be “cleansed” and then sent back up to Lake Lavon in Collin County for reuse. Click HERE to learn more about this amazing process!
The boardwalk takes you across the marsh to trails on the other side. It’s amazing how many things you can see on a walking tour. The center is open to the public 2 weekends a month, and some scheduled special events!
The wetlands have also become the winter nesting grounds for a pair of Bald Eagles. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get any closer than this to the nest, which is located there in the arm of the power line! The two baby eaglet will be there for just a few more weeks, but if you hurry you will still have time to see them!
Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!