Island Lullaby

St. John Night Music:

One experience I always loved when I returned to stay at Maho Bay Camps was listening to songs of the frogs and birds while falling asleep in my tent at night. It is a phenomenal chorus that starts at sunset and continues throughout the night.  I’ve discovered that there are a variety of frogs (so far I’ve found four) that are singing on St. John: 

  • the local tree frog,
  • the Antillean frog,
  • the Coqui and Whistling Eleuth from Puerto Rico.

It is intriguing that I will go all day without seeing a frog anywhere, but as soon as the last rays of sunlight dissolve, I hear thousands of tree frogs in the bush, both near and far, begin their nightly songs. I especially love driving along North Shore Road through the National Park after dark with all the car windows open, listening to all the thousands of frogs in the forest and seeing the bats swoop down and back up in front of my car.   

From what I can gather the local tree frog only sings when it is wet or has just rained. But others clearly sing every night regardless of the weather.  One sound I used to hear at Maho Bay Camp came only after the rain; either a frog or a bird made a pleasant and irregular (thankfully!) sound of water dripping.  I recall hearing it when the rain woke me up at night when I first arrived and was not used to living in a tent and hearing all the sounds around me.  I would listen to the rain, usually hearing it end shortly after it started.  Once the rain stopped I heard that “drip” sound. Wondering if there was a slow leak in the tent roof I would get up to inspect.  My inspection said no. And it quickly became clear the sound was outside and up in a tree!  I always loved that drip sound; it was uncommon and it served the same purpose of counting sheep – listening to it would help me fall right back  to sleep.

Singing in the Rain

After a rainfall the frog chorus can be phenomenally LOUD if you are surrounded by trees and bush!  Now that I am living in a house in Coral Bay (vs. a tent at Maho) I have the opportunity to watch TV again. One night while watching a movie, there was a brief shower and once it had passed the frogs picked up their singing in force. I kept turning up the volume so I could hear the movie, until it occurred to me that it might be disturbing my neighbors, even though I could barely understand what was being said on TV!  At that point it is best to just give up and turn off the TV.  Island life….

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7 thoughts on “Island Lullaby”

  1. There aren’t many perfect moments in life. Count yourself blessed if you’ve had a dozen. One for me, among the thirty something times I stayed at Maho, was on my morning run. Those days, twenty pounds and twenty years ago, I would run from the end of the goat path at Big Maho to the smoothy stand on Centerline Road. Ambition willing, I would continue west on Centerline. My overall time goal was to run from the Coral Bay sign at hill’s base to the smoothy sign in nine minutes. Over time, that became ten and, if you have any age on your bones, you know the rest. This particular morning I was up and out at first light. Up the hill and down, I came to Big Maho just as the full moon was setting and the sun rising. That picture has stayed in my thoughts as my “go to” place whenever the world and I seem to be at odds. Perfect.

    1. Thanks Arn! I love your comment!
      For all my photos of the island over the years, some of my most unforgettable moments were not captured anywhere but in my memory, like the one you described. I recall stopping for a swim at Big Maho Bay one afternoon with a friend. We we in the water chatting and cooling off, and noticed the full moon rising above the tops of the palm trees on the land going up King Hill to Centerline Road. Then we turned around to watch what what becoming an amazing orange and red sunset. As the sunset, I saw the green flash for the first time! It was such a beautiful evening and unforgettable experience and what makes St.John such a special place for so many people who visit and who live here!

  2. I LOVE the treefrogs! My husband recorded 5 minutes of tree frog music for me when we were at Maho in January. I love to listen to it. I also love your blogs – I look forward to the new ones and check every day. Thank you! I hope you will create a (hardcopy) book someday of them with your wonderful pictures!

    1. Thanks Lynda! It is so nice to have such support coming my way! I do hope to put some sort of book together with photos and some written text. Once I have posted enough to select the best or most interesting or appropriate text and maybe reader comments! Just a matter of finding the time but I am definitely interested in doing something like that!

  3. Yay for a book! I’ll look forward to that. It would be a wonderful memory of St. John for me and make great gifts for my children who also loved Maho and St. John.

  4. I love your video and remember (and miss) all those sounds. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    P.S. I would much rather listen to tree frogs than any television show. 🙂

    1. Haha! Me too, but after a year here it was nice to watch an favorite movie! I looooove the tree frogs too!!

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