Frogs, Food and Finches

Written by Natalie Allen, Tatalu Conservation Resident, pictured above.

Arriving at A Rocha BC has been a season of new encounters. A new place, a new community, and lots of species to learn about. Even the most common birds showed unique colours and patterns, and their songs were unfamiliar. Seeing nature with fresh eyes can draw attention to the little details, the way that God created things with particular detail and beauty.

Exploring these species has also brought new experiences. In particular, wading along the edge of ponds searching for ‘at risk’ northern red-legged frog egg masses. The differences that help to identify between these and the egg masses of other native species are subtle at first glance, but over time the eyes become accustomed to recognising the loose, ‘bubbly’ nature that distinguishes the northern red-legged frog from the dense ball that characterises the northwestern salamander. But being so focussed on searching for egg masses sometimes means I miss what else is going on around me, such as the occasion on which I walked obliviously past a nearby resting salamander (pictured). 

An adult northwestern salamander spotted by the side of an egg mass survey pond.

I have also been learning to find the beauty in the physical work of restoring the land around us; pulling out blackberries, digging and planting new native species. Sometimes, I get frustrated at how deep the root of a blackberry can go. Sometimes, I wonder if this reflects what God made us to do for His creation, when He asked us to ‘work it and keep it’ (Genesis 2:15). 

A Pacific Chorus Frog joined us during a restoration day planting native species.

The more I spend time with these creatures, the more I begin to recognise them. To recognise something can be a channel to knowing and appreciating its distinct uniqueness. Even after 6 weeks, the blended chorus of bird song has been replaced by a map of which creatures are around me, although I may not see them. The short laugh of a robin, the squeak of a spotted towhee and the calling of a song sparrow slowly become like greetings of the living things I know are around us in the world. And as I discover more about how the ground carefully brings forth food, the more I appreciate our connection to everything around us in what we eat.

As the green leaves of spring become more dense and the flowers more abundant, I look forward to the new species I will encounter as spring deepens, and moves forward into the quickly approaching summer.

Find out more about the Tatalu Conservation Residency here.