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Miranda Hodgson

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Frogs returning to garden ponds herald the start of spring

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 16 Mar 2010 at 11:58 AM

Now that the long winter is finally coming to an end, frogs (Rana temporaria) are making their way to garden ponds to mate. They’re late this year, only just gathering for their annual frolic. In 2005, on March the 17th, they had already spawned and could be seen floating protectively over the clumps of gelatinous eggs but, this year, on Sunday the 14th of March, they hadn’t yet entered the state known as amplexus, when the males clasp the females and the frenzy of breeding begins.


One of the 2005 frogs


The pond I spent time looking at last week belonged to my in-laws and, as they are moving house and we were there to help, I wanted to get in one more frog watching session by their beautiful wildlife pond. This particular pond is about 2.5m across and it teems with life; as many as 200 frogs have been counted there in spring and the surface becomes almost entirely covered with clumps of spawn. Birds drink and bathe at the waterfall, damsel flies hover over the plants and water voles live in holes around the pond edges. Snails slide over stones under the surface and countless beetles, larvae and tiny water creatures flit amongst the plants. You could spend all day sitting there and still not see all the life in that small haven.

 

The pond in the spring of 2007

 

What I really wanted to do was to get some photographs of the frogs, but they were having none of it. I knew that there were at least 20 in there because, from an upstairs window, I had seen their little heads poking out of the water and heard them croaking, but as soon as I got within about 5m, all the heads ducked down under the water, leaving only ripples to mark their presence. Again and again, I tried to creep up on them but they always spotted me. Once they have started mating they will be less wary but before they enter amplexus, they remain extremely shy.

As luck would have it, I came across an especially fine-looking yellow frog making its way to the water and it sat still long enough to be admired and photographed, but by the time we came home again, the pond frogs were still avoiding the camera’s lens.

 

 

 

Over the next couple of weeks, as the weather continues to warm, there will be much activity in garden ponds all over the UK and it will be worth spending some time watching to see what wildlife is attracted to the water.

 

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation - learn more and record your findings.

Comments

Susiq said:

Brilliant Blog Miranda, and what a beautiful pond - your inlaws must have been sad to leave that behind.

on 16 Mar 2010 at 01:40 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks Susiq! I'm sure they will miss the pond a lot as it's been a real pleasure to them, and to everyone who enjoys such things.

on 16 Mar 2010 at 03:08 PM

hyacinth said:

beautiful photos as always!

will your inlaws be building another pond at their new house?

on 16 Mar 2010 at 03:16 PM

pushkin said:

What a charming pond.  Have you thought of starting another one where you are?

I would love to but there are poisonous snakes, rattlers and water moccasins so I don't dare.

on 16 Mar 2010 at 04:23 PM

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on 16 Mar 2010 at 08:09 PM

Nigel Colborn said:

We had several dead frogs early last autumn, probably from ranavirus, but I've already spotted four this year, so there seem to be plenty of survivors, which is heartening.  Both were a coupled pair; neither had found any water yet.  Fantastic photos, by the way, especially the one at the top!

on 17 Mar 2010 at 07:56 AM

EvaInNL said:

How can you move away from a garden like that?!?! Lovely pics and article Miranda!

on 17 Mar 2010 at 08:24 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Hyacinth, I don't think the inlaws will have space for a pond like that at the new place, but there are a few very large ponds in the nearby countryside for them to look at and they could make a water feature to attract birds.

Yes, pushkin, I'd like to make a larger pond in the walled garden if we can. I can see why you don't have one - you'd never be able to go near it!

Thanks, Nigel. I also found some dead frogs about Christmas time, but they had already decayed and I couldn't tell why they had died. It's good to know that there are plenty of survivors!

I know, Eva - it's a wrench to leave something so lovely behind. I hope the new people care for it as well.

on 17 Mar 2010 at 09:20 AM

Wendy Steele said:

We have a large puddled clay pond with a serious leak and Sods Law dictates that we have had more frogspawn this year then ever.

If someone living on Anglesey would like to come and collect some, please can you let me know

on 23 Mar 2010 at 02:22 PM