Jetwing St. Andrew’s has tons of character reflecting its colonial past and spirit for adventure. One guest says of the nightly frog tour “We spent around 90 minutes with Ishanda, the resident naturalist and with torches spotting all the 10 different frog varieties in the area. The excitement of seeing tiny little frogs no bigger than our finger nail took us back to our childhood and that exciting sense of exploration.”
One of the most loved amphibians, due in part to fairy tale of handsome princes and kisses, frogs are according to Ishanda, aka Jetwing’s frogman, key to a healthy environment. Walking along hand made stony paths you climb to a rocky area through the 19th century forest and here we find shrub frogs and leaf nesting frogs the latter of which will climb 15 metres up a tree.
The tour then climbs to the top, taking you past centuries old Pygmy shaped trees, locally called keena, an amazing walking experience around the full moon as the forest is naturally lit, and makes it easier to find your way to where lizards can be discovered sleeping and other night insects that the frogs are most actively eating between 7 and 9pm. Ishanda says we very occasionally find the forest eagle owl and fish owl. The guests love it when we find the rhino horn lizard and pygmy lizard, the latter of which has a curly tail and hangs from plants.”
The one that gets everyone excited is the partly luminous yellow Montane hour-glass tree frog as he jumps great distances like an Olympic decathlete, earning him the title, king of the Mount Pedro frogs.
The drizzle and mist add to the mystery of frog watching tours that also take into account the seasonal life cycles, and the most interesting time is when the females that carry eggs all year round in September lay them and wait for the male to spray the outside of the eggs to fertilise them. Contrary to common perceptions, frogs make a huge variety of noises both among the species and individually.
In the hill country a term of endearment is being called a pug snouted frog but you may not feel the same way when you see one. If you fail to find your prince on this tour you always have the consolatory common wood frog or maybe if you are very lucky one standing guard in your bathroom showing just how healthy an environment Jetwing S. Andrew’s really is.
Looking at me tucking into lush chocolate cake, Ishanda says “the frog males are slim and athletic and the females are always three times bigger in the frog world.” But that’s what a frog prince would say or should I say a common wood frog?