I have decided to retire my Frog Blog because I haven’t been able to update it in a few years. However, it brings back fond memories and I don’t want my musings to disappear completely, so I’m going to re-post them over the next couple of months. This was originally posted in August 2010.
‘Look at that huge f@#%ing fish!’
I was shocked to hear such language being used to describe one of mother-nature’s offspring, but I had to agree – this was one big fffing fish skimming the bottom of, what was respectively, a small pond. It was on my first trip to a magical place that I refer to as the ‘Kananaskis frog pond’ that this encounter occurred…
In the summer of 2006, I discovered the existence of a program associated with the University of Calgary that hired environmental science (I think) students to track the population of amphibians in Kananaskis. They were looking for volunteers, so I called and said ‘sign me up!’
I drove out to meet my student guide, whose summer job was to go to various ponds in Kananaskis, walk the perimeter, and count frogs, froglings, eggs, tadpoles, toads, salamanders, etc. The purpose was to collect data on the population and habitat of native amphibians in Alberta. As some may know, frog populations are declining dramatically in many areas throughout the world.
So it was this inquisitive young woman, with the occasional foul mouth, that would introduce me to the pond with the big fffing fish – and teach me about the science of frogging. Armed with the knowledge that there are 4 types of frogs in Alberta – Boreal Chorus Frog, Columbia Spotted frog, Northern Leopard Frog, Wood Frog – I dawned some rubber boots and we set out.
The pond was a virgin frogger’s dream. It looked like God took an irregular-shaped cookie-cutter, cut out a chunk of land and just let it fill with water. The soil along the banks was smooth and spongy – very easy to navigate and get to the edge. This was not usually the case, I discovered after I had a few more frogging trips under my belt. Logs, reeds, fallen trees and dense vegetation usually barricade at least part of the perimeter of most ponds and lakes. Not this one. There was nothing keeping us from a full view into the depth of the crystal clear water. Most importantly, there were tons of columbian spotted frogs!
It was amazing! And my student guide was just as excited as I was. We circled the pond and saw a total of 12 or 13 – I can’t remember exactly, but it was a record amount for her. She thought it was strange that we saw so many frogs, yet no eggs or tadpoles. That was until she saw the big fffing fish. No doubt he was well fed, perhaps the reason for his heft.
That first official frogging experience renewed my passion for nature. It was a truly magical experience. The experience of finding a spot in nature that is so in tune with your spirit is indescribable. For me, it’s like my soul snaps into a perfect fit with my physical body and I am open to seeing the miracle of all that is.
I’ve been back to the Kananaskis frog pond almost every summer since (I missed 2008 for some reason), with my friends and their daughter, and it has been just as magical every time. On our last trip, this past July, we found 21!
Each year, we circumnavigate the pond the exact same way, starting at the first inlet where we always see our first frog (the welcome frog), then slowly work our way around. I haven’t seen that fish since the first time, but the frog count continues to increase. So I’m happy to know this sanctuary for the Spotted frog exists. I’m sure there are many more waiting to be found, but discovering the Kananaskis frog pond ranks pretty high on my list of favorite places.