By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener The Wildlife Gardener, as regular readers will have noticed, has been fretting about the absence of frogs and frogspawn in the Wildlife Pond this year. Fellow nature-lovers have been very kind: Richard of the Harlequin Ladybird survey wrote two very useful mini essays in the comments section of Croaked, and Sally Walker, one of the doughty ladies of the village, posted some clippings from The Telegraph letters page through my door, showing that others have been concerned about the amphibian absence too. And ghostmoth, here’s the next instalment, and it is positive.
Well, I’m delighted to report that the party has indeed started this week. I checked the pond at the weekend and found a single female suspended in the deepest part of the pond, clasped by two males and unable to push herself to the surface for air (above). Now, I know you’re not supposed to intervene in’nature red in tooth and claw’. But even hard-boiled BBC camera teams occasionally give their subjects a helping hand (removing the mineralised mud that formed crippling concrete boots on a young migrating flamingo is one such example from The Natural World). I have very few frogs and they need all the help they can get. So I fished the amphibian tangle out, an audible gasp coming from Herself, and relocated it to the shallows:
Yesterday, as I went to feed the hens, I heard that familiar splash/plop sound of frogs disappearing into the water as I approached the pond. And this is what I saw:
Hurrah! Frogspawn! And frogs in much more manageable pairs, not one poor female submerged in an unwelcome gang bang.
Not the 13 clumps of previous years…yet. But much better than nothing, and I am no longer worrying about pond pollution, mismanagement, predation or ranavirus this spring. The newts are circling the frogspawn licking their warty little lips, dragonfly nymphs crawl about the vegetation and the hens are impatient to forage. The resultant tadpoles will have to run the gamut of predators and Mr Darwin’s theory of natural selection. But at least they’re here to start that run.