Frog and Toad Watch
For those that don’t already participate in this annual event, I would like to introduce to you a very enjoyable and rewarding spring hobby that I’ve decided to call Frog and Toad Watch, and all you will need is a waterproof coat, a pair of wellies and a torch. The Frog and Toad breeding season is by far, the best time to capture and see these two of our six species of British amphibians. Frogs and Toads tend to migrate to ponds and spawning grounds in the spring at roughly the same time. The time in which they decide to do this, is usually governed by the weather however, from my studies, if spring is full of cold frosty nights. Toads will often breed two or three weeks later than Frogs. The best time to take up this hobby is on the first warm spring night, and if you add light drizzle to the equation, you will not be dissapointed, but if it’s cold and windy these little chaps will wait wait until the weather is more clement before venturing further afield!
For those of you that don’t have your own pond, check out your local village pond or Woodland Trust lake. The bigger the pond, often there is more to see as the breeding grounds are greater in size. If there are ditches or streams leading to the pond, include these in your watch. Turn on your torch and shine it on the water’s edge, and you will be amazed as you circle the beam of light over the water as you will see anything from ten to 500 pairs of eyes shining back at you in the darkness and what you hear will amaze you too. The chorus of croaking Frogs and Toads on a warm wet spring night is a happy experience and if you listen long enough, you will soon realise that they sound very different. If you are circle a lake you will be far more likely to see Toads as they prefer open areas of water for breeding but a word of caution, be careful where you tread and shine the torch where you walk as you will encounter more Frogs and Toads on their way to the water and also couples that have paired up on the way. Also keep a eye out for Smooth, Palmate and Crested Newts which often can also be seen slowly making their way to the water’s edge this time of year.
You can participate in this annual hobby throughout the breeding season, usually a week to ten days or up to a month if there is a gap between the migration of Frogs and Toads. For further interest, you may wish to keep a diary and log simple information such as the species of amphibians seen and the numbers of males, females ,breeding pairs and clumps of fresh frog and Toad spawn laid every night. It may also be good to make a note of weather conditions, time of night and the date, etc. After a few seasons, you could even turn this information into a chart, keeping records is also a valuable way of taking part in the conservation of our special amphibians.
Unfortunately our Amphibians often have a massive and quite often fatal hurdle to get over on the way to their breeding grounds. Sadly every year, millions of our Frogs and Toads nationwide are often run over on British roads every spring, so if you’re driving on a spring night, please bear this in mind and slow down! There is one more very rewarding thing you can do on a spring night that will make you feel great and provide you with a great sense of achievement that you have done a good cause and played a major part in the conservation of our British wildlife. If there is a road near you that is nearby to a breeding ground, get a bucket and go on Frog Rescue Patrol. If you walk up and down the road for an hour or two shining your torch onto the road your bound to find many migrating Frogs and Toads hopping about that will be very grateful of a little help reaching their spawning grounds and a ride to it in a bucket, is perfect. Once your bucket is half full, take your occupants to the pond and release them and enjoy watching them as they hop into the water with the knowledge, that you helped keep them safe for another season.