Yesterday I went to load my kayak on my truck, and nestled inside one of the foam wedges that hold the kayak firm was….
a Common Gray Tree Frog, Dryophytes versicolor, (aka Hyla versicolor) about 1.5″ long. It lives in woodlands, near ponds, and is nocturnal, so in the daytime it curls itself up and sleeps, perfectly camouflaged on the proper substrate, like this granite boulder.
It spends much of its time high in the trees, and during the breeding season the male trills beautifully (and loudly) near the small pond by our house. This recording was made on my phone in late June 2020.
Its camouflage extends to the matching irises!
It has stripy legs, and long fingers and toes, here folded neatly together:
and here splayed out gripping tightly to a lump of quartz:
Its best camouflage trick is that it can turn green to match its background. This one is en route to/from green; the whole process usually take about half an hour.
And this next one is all the way there: I promise you it is the same species, and it must have been sitting on a leaf before it landed on the fence:
My friend Pamela Marshall took a photo of one that can’t seem to decide whether to be gray or green:
They have bright yellow on the back of the legs, only glimpsed in a brief flash when they jump, and something I failed to photograph! Here is another Pamela Marshall photo, in which I think the frog fell on its back and is trying to turn itself back over, showing its golden underwear:
*My title is a quote from one of my childhood favorites, Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Although my hero is a frog, not a toad, it seemed apposite.
PS You might wonder why I have a lump of quartz lying around. We live in an area of pegmatite formations. Pegmatite contains the same minerals as granite, but in much larger crystals. One of the minerals is quartz, and the others are mica and feldspar. It also contains a variety of semi-precious minerals like tourmaline, garnet, amethyst, aquamarine and beryl. And lithium, possibly in commercially viable amounts, which raises all kinds of concerns about possible mining.