We have frog spawn!
In previous yeas the frogs have all got a bit excited much earlier in the year, laid their spawn soon after and then we have had frosty weather which has killed it all. This year the frogs have managed not to fall into that trap but I was beginning to think that maybe we would not get any spawn this year. Then a couple of days ago when I wandered up to the pond I heard the characteristic plop of our amphibian friends diving for cover from an approaching human. A few days later I found this:
The spawn in our pond will hatch into tadpoles this spring and by autumn will have reached the stage of being small frogs, known as froglets. However many tadpoles will never get to this stage. Some won't hatch, some will be eaten and others will starve or die from disease, poor water quality or cold weather. Even if they survive their first year, it will be 4 years before they reach breeding maturity and many more will die along the way. In fact a female frog lays thousands of eggs each year yet on average only a handful reach breeding age. But as long as this handful survive and breed then frog populations will remain stable.
Generally frogs lay their spawn in the same place in the same pond every year which is why loss of ponds in the countryside has had such a devastating affect on frog numbers. New frogs breeding for the first time will, however, search out new ponds so building a pond in your garden is always a good idea if you want to help boost numbers. This year the spawn is in a different part of the pond to other years so it may well be we have new young frogs laying for the first time.
We also have lots of toads here. Rather than being in a clump their spawn is laid in long ribbons and is much harder to spot. We'll just have to hope there is some hiding in amongst the plants on out pond. I love toads and for those of you not aware and in need, maybe of a chuckle, the French word for toad is "crapeau". (Stop sniggering at the back there!)
I have never seen newts here and believe they may be quite rare in Normandy, despite distribution maps saying otherwise. Many of my French friends do not know what animal I mean when I ask about "tritons" (or maybe I am pronouncing the word wrong!). In comparison we have seen a couple of fire salamanders. The first, sadly, a squashed road casualty but the second in a drain we were clearing out. Once seen you will never forget it's vivid yellow and black colouring, nor will you ever muddle a salamander with a newt or frog. I can't find the photo we took of our colourful guest so I have used this one from Wikipedia.
|Fire Salamander from Wikipedia|
Do you have any ponds locally and if so have you seen any frog spawn this year? Maybe you could find the space to build a pond in your garden and if you are a gardener they make great allies eating slugs and snails.