Greek Stream Frog call and amplexus

It is true, the commoner and closer to home a species is, the less we search for it, and the less behavioural photos we have. So I had made photos of the Luschan's Salamander from Kastellorizo in amplexus, but not of the Greek Stream Frog Rana graeca, a species very common in Greece, and found in a couple of streams 10 minutes from my doorstep. Not only this, but the voice of this small frog was completely unknown, searching the net had given no results. With a couple of friends we were discussing all this, and decided it was time to turn our attention to these small fellas.

Rana graeca lives in and near fast flowing streams on mountains, here on Rhodope

Can easily be distinguished by the dark throat with a light narrow strip in the middle

They are very common in drinking troughs, on mountains all over Greece

Here, A Greek Stream Frog is hiding in the bottom of such a drinking trough

Over the years, we had come across some frogspawn, but never seen the frogs in amplexus. Part of this was due to the fact that the frogs start really early their breeding cycle, while it is still almost winter on the mountains.

Here was a male in a small pool with eggs, probably waiting for a female. They usually attach their eggs under a stone, but this cluster was rather washed up by torrential rain

Roaming the mountains in the summer we often come across tadpoles in various stages of development. Of course, all the breeding cycle is depended to the temperature and this is related mainly to the altitude of the breeding stream.

The tadpole of the Greek Stream Frog Rana graeca. This particular individual was photographed at the end of September, meaning that its metamorphosis will complete well into autumn

An almost metamorphosed tadpole, end of September. The vestiges of the tail can be seen

It was the 6th of March 2016 when Elias Tzoras and I were herping on a hill near home, when we heard a very faint voice coming from the edge of a drinking trough. We waited for some time and recorded the voice of this species for the first time. It was faint and irregular. Waiting for the night, we found fresh frogspawn and an individual near it. The males go to their breeding pools and there they wait for the females. They precede the females for some days. Each female, when she is ready to spawn, comes to the stream, chooses a male and spawns. The males often grasp other males while waiting for the females, but promptly release them. As with all anoura, the males develop nuptial pads on the front legs to steadily grasp the females. This particular grasping is called an amplexus, where the male grasps the female behind the front legs.

A male just beside the egg clusters of last night's breeding

So this year, we were ready for the happening. We knew when was the right time, and we went to the nearest stream near home. Friends Panagiotis Drakopoulos and Alexis Panagiotopoulos went to one stream and I went to another, with a drinking trough nearby. They were lucky on the first night, finding a couple in amplexus. I was lucky recording a calling male.

Males tend to be greenish for a very short time on the breeding cycle, when they mate

A female on the bottom of the drinking trough, plump and full of eggs

Males will find a pool where they wait for the females. They stay at the same pool every night. The sound of the small waterfalls is quite loud and their own voice is surprisingly faint

Below, a male calling from the edge of a small pool, hidden under vegetation. The nuptial pad, a light-coloured tubercle on the foot, can be seen.

The night after, it was raining, perfect weather for amphibians. I tried the other stream, and also found a couple in amplexus. It was in the middle of the stream, the male greenish and the female reddish in colour.

The couple in amplexus in the middle of the stream. The males turn greenish and the females reddish.

And a close-up of the couple

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