Photographer's Note

Dear friends: In Botswana, the concept of beautiful is not only big and fat. There are also some very little gems to be found and I am not talking about pure carbon!!!

Being densely covered by reeds, papyrus and water lilies, the backwaters of the Okavango Delta contains a myriad of small creatures. In summer, the swamps are full of fish, dragonflies, insects and frogs. The frogs are abundant and the Long Reed Frog, a minuscule pale green amphibian perches on long reeds.

Looking at this photograph, it is quite difficult to estimate the size of this very tiny Reed Frog specimen, with adults barely reaching three centimeters in length.

The Reed Frog shows the greatest variety of brightly coloured markings of all southern African frogs, with a profusion of stripes, spots or stippling. However, the smaller specimens, under about 12mm in length, are generally fairly plain. The Reed Frogs are capable of changing their colour, and what was a striking black and gold pattern may become pale brown and light yellow. But the general pattern remains the same.

The flattened discs on its toes enable them to climb slippery surfaces, such as the stems of the reeds that proliferate throughout its range. It is not surprising that they are extremely common in Botswana's Okavango Delta. But due to their very small size, they are also extremely difficult to spot from a moving canoe. In spite of their large numbers, we needed the guides to point them out in order to see the first one.

The Reed Frog has a fine vocal capacity. Its call is a shrill, high-pitched whistle repeated rapidly, its vocal sac bulging to form a balloon absurdly large for such a small frog. The collective noise of large numbers can be quite deafening. Eggs are laid in flat cakes on the surface of submerged leaves, roots or stems, about 300 to 400 at a time. The breeding season lasts from the first rains in spring to late summer, with metamorphosis taking six to eight weeks. Being found in such abundant numbers, it is common the Reed Frog to be heavily preyed upon by predatory birds.

(Info collected from various web sources.)

WS 1 and 2 are examples of not so small creatures that wander the islands of the Okavango Delta.

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Additional Photos by Antonio Ribeiro (ribeiroantonio) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4806 W: 470 N: 6473] (22730)
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