Here on the edges of the New Forest the frogspawn begins to appear from the last few days of January to mid February weather permitting. At this time we check the wildlife pond in our garden for signs of frogs, frogspawn and frogsong, lo and behold each year they spawn large clumps of round jelly like eggs with the black dot in the centre and this year was no different.
The sudden cold snap at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb did set them back later than normal with the first eggs appearing on the 16 February. The revelation of the frogspawn was heralded by a loud series of plopping noises as the 7-8 frogs disappeared under the water as the door opened. One risk taking frog sat quite openly in the middle of the yellow flag iris watching me stare at their nights work. All the spawn appears healthy and fertile. They should be able to hatch in around 2-4 weeks for the native Common Frog – Rana temporaria although much depends on conditions in the pond and weather.
The Common Frog is the most seen species in the UK and are most active at night but can be seen at any time of the day. To hear the frogs singing this is an ideal time of year to get out into the garden around 9pm onwards and listen for the croaking chorus. There is no ribbit ribbits here the only other native frog is the Pool Frog and they are very rare only having been recently reintroduced (in the past 25 or so years) to a site in East Anglia. There are however some non-native frog species that are rarely discovered including American Bullfrogs and African Clawed Frogs.
There was a small colony of Tree Frogs living around Beaulieu (of Motor Museum fame), this colony seemed to have disappeared by the mid to late 1980s although you still find rumours of them on occasion as there are in other warm areas in the UK. Tree Frogs are from more exotic climes and can be very colourful like our Ravensden Tree Frog, modled on the Red Eyed Tree Frog – Agalychnis callidryas from the Central Americas. Our Common Frog is just as interesting and is beautifully depicted by Daniel Mackie in the Frog Card of The DM Collection.
Frogspawn is a great way to get the kids interested in wildlife, it’s easy to keep frogs happy in the garden and a fairly quick process to watch the eggs from laying to hatching to watching the growing squiggly tadpoles right to the formation of their legs and into tiny little fingernail sized froglets bouncing around the garden. Each month there is more progress and it’s a short and cheap activity. I will keep you updated on the progress of this fascinating process from our own frog filled wildlife garden.
If you want to learn more facts about the Common Frog the website from Froglife has some great images and info.
If you have frogspawn in your own garden or our in the wider area you can report your sightings through the Dragon Finder App more info on Froglife Recording your signtings will help build a map of where frogs and other amphibians are and can help with the conservation of these brilliant animals.