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NEIGHBORS : Jumping for Joy : The recent wet weather has made conditions perfect for frogs to reproduce, prompting their happy chorus.


People in proximity of the Ventura River and other local bodies of water probably have noticed an increase in frog chatter of late.

Well, there's a good reason for it--the rain.

"I would say it's a chorus of happiness," said Jeff Price, chief ranger of the area's state beaches. "They croak for a reason, to attract mates. The environmental conditions at this time happen to be perfect for frogs to find mates and reproduce."

Those conditions include green foliage with accompanying nourishing bugs and moist ground, "so the frogs don't dry up when traveling across country," Price said. "And they need very still water to mate or lay their eggs. The habitats are perfect for lots of new little froggies."

Price said that during the drought, the number of frogs in the county probably decreased as a result of their inability to lay eggs. But he said we should expect thousands of tadpoles to show up this summer in areas that haven't dried up.

The frogs in question, he said, are probably the Canyon tree frog and the Pacific tree frog. And as for the sounds they make, they all convey an important message. "The one where the male croaks at night is to identify his territory and to attract females," Price said. "The grunt noise, a kind of gravelly sound, could be the sound a female makes after she's laid her eggs, to let the male know she's done her part."

And let's not forget Mr. Toad. Yes, California toads also have been popping up, in people's back yards. Price discovered this firsthand. But, of course, he wasn't surprised.

Price said that during dry times, the toads bury themselves underground. "They tend to hide in times of stress or drought," he said. Now that things are wet again, he said, the toads are resurfacing.

If you're having trouble identifying the amphibian in your yard, here's a tip: The California toad is about the size of an average fist, is gray-green with a long yellow stripe running the length of its body and has large warts. The warts are actually sacks that produce nasty-smelling secretions. "But the toad's urine is probably more obnoxious," Price said. "If you picked it up, it would urinate on you instantly."

An important lesson for the children.

In non-green news: Iva Grant is righting a writing wrong.

The Ventura resident thinks that there should be an education and support organization for Ventura County writers who make a living free-lancing their work. So she's trying to start one herself.

It will actually be a local chapter of the Los Angeles-based Independent Writers of Southern California. Grant is a member of that group and attends meetings down south, but, she said, "driving all the way to L.A. at night is not my idea of a nice evening."

Grant, with help from the Ventura College journalism department, has scheduled a three-hour seminar Saturday in hopes of generating interest in the proposed club. Writer Gerald Jones will talk about things such as how to pitch an idea to an editor. The program will begin at 9 a.m. General admission is $25 and reservations are encouraged. Call 644-9592.

From the makers of the video "America's Funniest Dirty Jokes" comes a weekly TV music show titled "Live Wire."

The program, which is scheduled to debut Wednesday night, will originate from Cheers restaurant in Simi Valley. It will be aired only in Simi Valley, on Comcast Cable Channel 19, at 8 p.m.

"Live Wire" will feature "the hottest unsigned local talent in Southern California," said Mat Wallace, one of the show's four producers.

"One thing about our TV show is we're not doing heavy metal or rap. We're sticking more with rock, alternative, R&B, blues."

Shows will be taped at the restaurant each Thursday night and air two weeks later. The first show features three bands, including Mile High, from Simi Valley.

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