In the day, the outer trails are deserted paths that feel only the force of hasty soles and the patter of tireless ants. Tiger beetles, too, patrol the dry expanse that cuts through the forest floor, dashing about to mete judgment on smaller insects who, against their better sense, land on the exposed vein.
A counterpoint to the treetop chorus erupts from the low bushes and leaf litter by the trail. Groans, bellows and honks ring from invisible bodies that silence themselves whenever they sense a glance of ill intent. But even if they neglect to do so, it is nigh impossible to triangulate the source of antiphonal clicks that echo from a bed of brown and grey. Peeling apart each layer of blades reveals no answers – only filthy nails and a feeling that the singer is closer than it seems, yet nestled in a groove that defies discovery. It helps not that the frame behind the voice may be no bigger than a thumbnail and cloaked in shades to match the patterns of decay.Other hoppers are bolder, guarding the fringe of the trail until the moment their courage runs out and they leap for cover. Some continue till they splash into a stream, where real peril lies in the form of leathery turtles and aquatic serpents. Even on dry nights, the frogs gather in densities that threaten every other minute with an explosion of movement through the shadows of a tangled bank.
Closer to the edge of the canopy live anurans used to disturbance. Here dwell the frogs of the field and a pretty thing that seems at home both in the drains and on sturdy branches. Looking more like an oriental caricature than a real amphibian, the banded bullfrog is a squat, lumpy creature with not the hint of a neck and a surprisingly strong hop.closer cousin to the imps that hide in the litter than its invasive namesake. Despite its chubby build and fossorial limbs, the frogs not infrequently abandon the low land to inch up trees, where they can be spotted crouching on trunks above eye level or perched by a busy fork. Their cover broken, the animals swell into puffballs of ribless fury to make themselves too much of a mouthful for smaller hunters. It’s a display that turns an already rotund body into a living balloon and invites the thought of deflating the outburst with a peck on the snout to test, or perhaps taunt, the power of wishful thoughts.