Regular readers will remember we had plenty of frogs in the pond earlier in the year and lots of spawn. The tadpoles are now developing into little frogs. My youngest spotted a couple moving from the pond to the hedgerow.
A frog in the hand
They are so tiny. The fact that any of these creatures can make it to a full -sized adult frog is truly amazing. How big the world must seem to them!
Captivating may not be a word you’d immediately associate with frogs. However, we are spending a large amount of our meal times watching the frogs in the garden pond and my youngest is particularly captivated by their antics. Our kitchen window overlooks the pond and is a perfect place for observing them.
Yesterday’s count was an estimated 150! Last year there was 63, so it is a big jump in numbers. Today is damp and it looks like they are beginning to disperse, as there are a lot more sitting around the top of the pond, and moving away under the beech hedge and through the garden.
I love to see frogs in the garden as I know they will do their bit in keeping the slug population down.
So what is the story?
Well, the frogs are back in our garden pond. They actually first arrived over a week ago. But then the temperatures dropped and we had all that snow and they vanished. But yesterday they returned! I counted 99. Today, they are in such a mating frenzy I cannot count them! Trouble is as soon as you go out to take a photograph most of them disappear under water, so I cannot show you what it really looks like. Luckily, some are braver and not so photo shy – or perhaps they just have their mind on something more import, like producing the next generation!
The tadpoles have hatched and are growing quickly. They are concentrating themselves in dense clumps in the shallower water at one end of the garden pond. I suspect as they get bigger they will begin to move out.
In the picture below you can see some of the braver ones!
You can click here to learn a bit more about our Irish frogs.
There is a rhythmic sound coming from the garden pond. A kind of deep-throated, grunting croak. Yes, the frogs are back. In fact, the pond is pretty much heaving with them. Last year we counted 43. Yesterday my husband counted 63! I think that was the peak. It’s great to have them back though. A sure sign that spring is really here.
In Ireland, we only have one species of frog, the Common Frog (Rana temporaria). There is only one species of toad too. It is called the Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita), and it only occurs in the south. Our third Irish amphibian, is the Smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris). We sometimes see them in our garden and in the pond too.
It’s a good idea to encourage amphibians into your garden. They will eat lots of unwanted slugs. Having a pond is a great way to encourage them, but also think about leaving a few undisturbed areas with long vegetation and a log pile, as amphibians actually spend most of their time out of water.
For some good advice on creating a garden pond check out the Sussex Wildlife Trust Pond page.
To say the garden pond is heaving with frogs is a bit of an understatement! I used binoculars to help me count them today from the kitchen window. I counted 38 and I don’t think I got them all as there were probably some hiding in corners that I couldn’t see. Trouble is, as soon as you get close to the pond they head underwater and the zoom on my lens is not working. Thankfully there was one brave one – who was bold enough to pose for a rear-end and front-end view! Frogs are great addition to any garden, providing a valuable pest control service. Who wouldn’t want them in their garden?
These beautiful Orange tip butterflies are quite plentiful at the moment – or at least when the sun’s shining! The caterpillars of this species feed only on the cuckcoo flower. It’s a spring flower than grows in our meadows and has many local names including Hail Marys. I know the second photo isn’t in focus but I liked the way I had accidentally captured the hoverfly too. I think it is from the species Platycheirus, but open to correction.
Orange tip butterfly
Orangetip and hoverfly
This frog was trying to hide in grass – can you spot him in the first photo? I love to see frogs in the garden as they will eat plenty slugs.
We’ve finally planted the potatoes. I am about a fortnight behind this year with planting despite the good weather we had for part of April. I have planted three varieties. Charlotte will be the first to crop – most of these are already growing well in the tunnel but the rest I have planted out. Catriona are one of my favourites. They are fluffy, but not too fluffy and have a lovely flavour. This year I’m try a purple variety for the first time. It’s called Purple Majesty and the tubers are purple in colour.
Chitted potatoes – Catriona
Purple Majesty potatoes
The apple trees are really coming into blossom now – so I hope the frost keeps away. We keep having to chase a pair of bullfinches off the trees. It appears they like variety in their diet and are not content on eating just dandelion seeds!
Spring is definitely here though the weather is still cold and wet. But the flowers are opening and warming the heart. My favourites are primroses. They grow in the banks of our hedgerows. The first ones we saw were on the 14th February, but these were a bit battered by the hail showers we’ve been having. The ones below were photographed on the 19th February and are in a bank below some lovely old, wizened hawthorns on the edge of our hill field.
In the garden, the crocuses are opening and today our first daffodil opened fully.
In the polytunnel, we have planted our early potato crop – the variety is Charlotte and we can usually harvest them in May. They will be small but delicious! The second lot of broad beans I sowed (the first ones were eaten by a mouse!) have germinate and are just starting to grow. I’ve leave them in pots for a couple of more weeks before planting into the tunnel. In the greenhouse, I’ve sown some radish and early lettuce, a few kohlrabi and early cabbages in seed trays. We’ll see how they all go.
In the wood things are moving too. I spotted these badger prints a couple of weeks ago. Badgers don’t live in the wood but every so often we will find footprints on the muddy bits of the track, where they have been passing through.
And a sure sign of spring – the frogs have returned to spawn in the drain below the chicken field. It is always the first place they spawn. They will return to the pond in the next few days. It will be interesting to see if they will use the new pond, which lies between the drain and the existing garden pond. The photo isn’t great. I haven’t been able to sneak up on the frogs yet – without them all diasppearing under the surface of the water – but the picture will give you an idea of the amout of spawn. Each clump of spawn represents what one female has produced. There are about 50 clumps – that is 50 female frogs. And for every female frog there will be a male mating with her – that is 100 frogs in this little bit of drain. It’s pretty impressive!