Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bullfrog Metamorphosis

While exploring the pond where I work I discovered numerous tadpoles in the process of completing their metamorphosis into froglets. These are juvenile bullfrogs and will soon be on their way to adulthood. The first picture shows the froglet with its long tadpole tail still very much visible. 

This second image shows an additional froglet with just a nubbin for a tail. He is much further along on the transformation scale.

Finally, this young froglet has completed his transformation and has lost his tail entirely. There were dozens of these young bullfrogs all over the lily pads. Apparently they were all emerging at once from the water for the final time. Bullfrogs need two years to complete their lifecycle, which makes these youngsters two years old. It will take an additional year or more for them to reach the large size of the adult.

This image is a full grown adult which measures about 5 inches in length from mouth to tail bone. From the look of our pond at the office we are going to have a healthy population of these beautiful frogs....providing of course that the raccoons, turtles, skunks, and birds don't feast on them first. If you would like to learn more about Missouri Bullfrogs you might enjoy a post from last spring Bullfrogs

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rochester Falls Conservation Area

Approximately 3 miles from my house is the conservation area known as Rochester Falls. These falls are part of the Platte River and are a popular place for campers, fisherman and nature lovers alike. This is a beautiful place to visit as the river flows over the limestone outcroppings creating these small but lovely falls. Typically when we think of "water falls" we think of giant plummeting streams of water that "fall" for great distances. These falls aren't as awe inspiring, but that certainly doesn't take away from their beauty.
Rochester Falls is owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is frequently patrolled by our county agent. This place is a hotspot for young people to drink, party and swim. It can be a struggle to protect people from themselves at times. In the past month two young people drowned within a week of each other at the falls. It is common for people to disregard the "no swimming" signs and venture into the river anyway. These are unfortunate tragedies that could have been prevented. When visiting areas such as this, it is always best to heed the warnings posted, they are there for a reason.

This area is mostly old-pasture, timber and grassland. Fishing often yields catfish, especially flatheads, and carp. My son and his friends set bank lines along this portion of the river and recently caught two huge flatheads, one weighed 35 pounds the other weighed 40 pounds. (pictured below)

Canoeing and kayaking are also favorite activities on the Platte River, and this is a good access point for putting in or taking out your watercraft. Motorized boats cannot be put in at this location. The Platte River would most likely be too shallow anyway. There are eleven campsites and two tents per site are allowed.

Wildlife abounds, including dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, snakes, deer, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, bobcat, fox, and flying squirrels.