Dear Readers, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of the frogs to the pond, although to be honest, I never know if they’ve been there hibernating in the mud all winter, or if they’ve made the trek from somewhere else. So, I found two frogs on Tuesday, but I didn’t share the news because both of them had been attacked by some predator or another. Poor little things. I picked up the first one and it moved in my hand – clearly it was on its last legs, but it was still alive. I put it in a damp spot under a bush so that it could at least pass away in peace. The other one was a bit livelier but still injured, so I popped it gently into the shallow end of the pond to take its chances.
I am not sure who it is who injures the frogs, but there are certainly several possible culprits.
I hate to blame the foxes, but they do pass through the garden every night, and I’m fairly sure that they would at least give a frog a nibble. A few years ago there was a positive pile of dead frogs by the pond one night, and as foxes cache their food I was very suspicious.
Next potential culprit:
To be clear, I’m not saying it was this cat particularly (though I did once see him walking across the patio with a dead mouse in his mouth. When he saw me looking at him he sped up ever so slightly, as if to say ‘nothing to see here’). Cats in general seem to love to play with frogs, though I’ve never seen one eat one. One cat used to sit by the side of the pond patting them on the head whenever they broke the surface, a bit like Whack-a-mole. Sadly, a cat’s idea of fun is not so much fun for the frog, with its thin skin and breakable bones. But there is a third possible perpetrator as well.
A pair of magpies have been visiting the garden since 2021, and they are such curious, intelligent birds that it would surprise me not a jot if they had a good old peck at some poor frog. Plus I heard them cackling away not an hour before I noticed the dead frogs. I wouldn’t put it past them to pick a frog out of the pond for some amusement either.
All in all, the poor frogs have a bit of a time of it, but though it’s really hard for the individual creatures, as a species they seem to be extremely resilient. I remember when this predator visited a few years ago, and even as I watched he ate three frogs before I shooed him/her away (not before the bird had punched a hole in my pond liner unfortunately).
When we cleared out the pond subsequently we found 56 frogs still in situ, so even the most voracious frog-eater doesn’t seem to make much of a dent in the population as a whole.
But still, I was so happy when I peered into the pond this morning to see two healthy-looking male frogs in the water, waiting expectantly for the females to turn up. Fingers crossed for another bumper tadpole year. The frogs disappeared before I could get a photo, but here’s one from last year, just to give you an idea. Interestingly (for me at least) I note that the frogs appeared in the garden on 21st February last year, so they’re more or less on time!