No, I’m not referring to some of our more jovial community members, I’m actually talking here about Litoria peronii, or Peron’s tree frog, colloquially known as the maniacal cackling frog, for reasons obvious to anyone who’s familiar with their call.
Heard on warm spring and summer nights, cacklers are distinctive and, well, yes, a bit maniacal. Although Geoff has written about them being in the area, in seventeen years of living in the bush at Strangways, I’ve never heard a single one. Not a cackle. Until this spring, when unexpectedly, I heard not one but several chortling away by our dam.
Frog movements are perplexing. Where have they come from? Chris Johnston has had them at Green Gully only in the last five years, and I don’t remember them at all when I used to live over that way. So where have they appeared from? Are they gradually dispersing westwards? Is this a regular fluctuation in response to climatic conditions, or a unique population drift?
If you’ve heard cacklers locally, I’d be curious to know. Maybe they’re far more common than I’d thought.
And to help you identify them, here is a recording of our new riotous residents on our Strangways dam. You can hear the cackler almost immediately, and a second one takes over calling after a few minutes. This was recorded during spring, and you can also hear pobblebonks (Limnodynastes dumerilii), brown tree frogs (Litoria ewingii) (“weep-eep-eep-eep”, one quietly and occasionally in the background) and a chorus of brown froglets (crinia parinsignifera) (“squelch”ing calls, one quite close at beginning).
I rushed to make this recording the first night I heard them, being enthusiastically attacked by mosquitoes in the process (remember them?!). I needn’t have bothered. Our cacklers are still calling now in January, when most other frog species have fallen silent.