After several weeks of hot weather and little rainfall, the Forum Nature Area wetland, in southwest Columbia, is drying up. An expansive, shallow lake just a month ago, the central basin is now covered by grassy fields, mudflats and a few dwindling pools. On our visit this morning, killdeer and a pair of spotted sandpipers hunted across the muddy shores while a few mallards huddled in the shallows. Taking advantage of the concentrated prey, green-backed herons patrolled the waterline, patiently stalking insects and small amphibians.
But the spectacle of this morning was the large number of bullfrogs and green frogs that waded through the shrinking ponds. Normally hidden by marsh and lake waters, these hapless residents sat silently in the pools, seemingly stunned by their loss of habitat. Easy prey for snakes, mink, fox and great blue herons, stranded frogs must find a moist retreat or venture off to locate another pond. Whatever choice they make, the ongoing drought will surely decimate Forum's frog population; but then, nature is not sentimental.