The Return of the Frogs

Dear Readers, there are certain events during the year that mark the passing of the seasons. The Great Garden Birdwatch at the end of January always reminds me that we are past mid winter, and that spring will soon return. The arrival of the fledgling starlings in May marks the very height of summer’s activity for me, regardless of the fact that the school holidays haven’t even started. But the most exciting event of the year is when I first hear the frogs singing for the first time. It’s never very loud – usually just an apologetic little high-pitched wheeze – but it tells me that the males have come out of hibernation, and are hoping for a lady frog to visit.

I actually saw my first frog almost a month ago, but the beginning of March was very cold, and so I think everyone gave up and went back to bed. But the first frogspawn appeared earlier this week, and the courting rituals are now in full swing. Strangely enough, this year the frogs have chosen to spawn in the plant pots at the side of the pond – the water level is a bit lower, so maybe they feel more comfortable here amongst the marsh marigolds and the water mint. At any rate, it looks like being a bumper year.

I am always surprised by the size and colour differences between the frogs. There are some whopping big females, and some titchy males (the females are generally larger, but there are some very diminutive chaps this year). The reflections on the water don’t help with judging size, I know. 

I imagine that they frogs don’t have the facial muscles to be very expressive, but they always look so placid regardless of what’s going on.

They are mysterious creatures, frogs. Where do they go to once they’ve bred, and where do they come from in the first place? I have some frogs in the pond for most of the year, but the others disperse to goodness only knows where. I suspect that they are having a party under the wooden steps, or hanging out in the woodpile by the side of the shed. I don’t know where they lived before I made the pond, but the first frog arrived within six weeks of it going in. They are such common creatures, and yet we know so little. I’m just glad that they turn up every year, to cheer me up with their impassive faces and mating shenanigans. If you have a garden it is so worth putting in some water for the critters, even if it’s only a tiny pool. You will be amazed at what turns up.

8 thoughts on “The Return of the Frogs

  1. Fran & Bobby Freelove

    I totally agree, there’s something lovely about the sound of frogs croaking through the night, although Bobby doesn’t agree, she’s petrified of them. We got our first few clumps of spawn over the last week which is always exciting. I found a mating pair scrabbling on top of the net on the koi pond, luckily i was there and i quickly transferred them to the wildlife pond. I look forward to watching them grow, although last year we had a magpie that kept helping itself to the tadpoles.

    Reply
    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Magpies are such monkeys – I remember one plucking solitary bees out of the air when they nested in some loose earth in the garden a few years ago. Such intelligent and adaptable birds….

      Reply
  2. Anne

    During this long drought I have missed the nightly frog choruses from the (now empty) dam across the road. Some bury themselves deep down in the mud, awaiting better living conditions. We have fished a few out of our swimming pool (too salty for them to survive in) but there are still no choruses. Enjoy your frogs!

    Reply
  3. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    I always wonder the same about the tadpoles which I see in the pond in the Ferpècle valley. (I don’t recall ever seeing many, or indeed any, frogs, just lots of spawn and tadpoles in various stages of development), It must be 2 to 3 ft under snow at the moment up there, so where do the frogs go? It’s a long hop down to (and back up from) Sion where the weather is much warmer.

    Reply
    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I watched a programme on the Cairngorms yesterday, and apparently the season is too short for frog tadpoles to metamorphose completely in one year, so they stay in the mountain pools as tadpoles, even when the top layer is frozen, and emerge as frogs early the following spring….where they go then, though, is anybody’s guess 🙂

      Reply
      1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

        Yes, it’s a bit of a mystery. And ‘ours’ could be the same as, in the autumn, I seem to recall seeing some well developed tadpoles with front and back legs emerging and some smaller, ‘fresh’ ones. I feared for their safety as they can be cannibalistic can’t they? And, as if that wasn’t enough, in the height of the summer, the pond is almost dried out. So, how they appear year after year is nothing short of a miracle!

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