Monday, 6 April 2015

Frog spawn!

Posted by Rosie

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:

Frog spawn

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.

14 comments :

  1. I've not seen any frogspawn where it usually collects here on the farm this year, though I did spot a grass snake sunbathing today!

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    1. Not seen a snake yet but saw loads of butterflies when I was driving to school just now.

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  2. We have frogspawn here at the moment too. I wonder if all the spawn managed to emerge unscathed and unpredated we would have a plague of frogs. Nature is a wonderful thing.

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    1. I did read once that if all the spores from a giant puffball all grew to maturity they would outweigh the earth 8 times #gulp

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  3. I just showed your photo of the frog spawn to my son! He wants to go visit a pond now and see if he can spot any. Last year in the Hamptons, US, we went on a night expedition to see Eastern Tiger and Spotted Salamanders - quite amazing creatures.

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    1. I would love to see another salamander. I hope you find some frog spawn.

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  4. You've just reminded me I need to fill up the pond! It's looking dreary and unloved I'm afraid. I shall have to keep an eye out for froggies!

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    1. I bet you have some great frog in Australia. Are some poisonous?

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  5. I have to admit the only time I usually see frogs is when I'm swerving out the way to avoid hitting the as they jump across the road at night! But our local lake has got quite a bit of frog spawn in it so we may head down there a bit more to watch their progress.

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    1. Most years for a couple of nights before they spawn the road along our local valley is absolutely full of frogs and they are so hard to avoid. This year I must not have been driving on those nights - thank goodness.

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  6. Spring is such a great time of year with so much new life being created and born.

    Loving the French word for toad! Never knew that! Very funny!

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  7. Each year I find frogs in our garden. Next door have a pond but my neighbour keeps koi carp in it so I'm sure they can't be living and breeding in there.

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  8. I love pond life (no joke there) and studied fresh water ecology as part of my Degree. Love frogs, they are such a great creature to study, especially for kids. Fond memories of pond dipping with school probably steered me in that direction. That Fire Salamander is a beauty.

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  9. Lucas says - I never knew so much about frogs and toads and the Mother is still sniggering bout the French name for toads! We're going fishing again today so I think I will see if I can find any.......... #animaltales

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