Unless you’ve been in hibernation this winter, you may well have noticed that spring seems to have sprung early with all sorts of unusual wildlife sightings being recorded for this time of year. Large numbers of frogs and newts have already been seen at Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Urban Wildlife Centre, suggesting that it’s time to look out for the first spawn in your garden pond.
Spring come early
Steve Davis, Volunteering Manager at Dorset Wildlife Trust, was checking the ponds last week after an evening event at the Centre in Corfe Mullen. Steve explains: “One pond is only about 5ft in diameter and 1 ft deep, and I saw two frogs in it and about 40/50 smooth newts around it! The larger pond had lots of frog activity including a very large frog that looked ready to spawn. Driving down Beacon Hill lane I had to stop twice to let frogs hop out in front of me. When I got home there was a frog sat in my parking space!”
Newts and frogs spend the winter in torpor, a state of temporary hibernation. Frogs sometime spend hide at the bottom of a pond or they will burrow into some mud or a pile of logs, as do newts, so they can maintain their body temperature and metabolic rate when food and heat sources are scarce. There is no need to worry if you find large numbers of frogs or frogspawn in your garden, as nature will find its own balance, according to DWT. Only around one in fifty of the eggs will become a froglet, with pond predators including fish, dragonfly larvae and newts to contend with. Those that do become froglets could then face garden predators such as grass snakes, blackbirds, crows, magpies, hedgehogs, foxes and badgers.
Let them find their own way
Steve Davis advises against moving frogs, which will naturally find suitable ponds: “By picking up any amphibians you are potentially spreading diseases and also there might be very good reasons why some ponds do not have amphibians.”
Garden ponds are increasingly important for the survival of frogs, toads and newts, and digging a garden pond is one of the best ways to help wildlife in your back yard.
- Male frogs arrive in ponds in early spring, followed by the females.
- Tadpoles hatch around 2 weeks after spawning, starting to change into froglets in May.
- By late summer, the surviving frogs will leave the ponds for the cover of long grass or bushes, returning when they are around 3 years old to the same pond to breed.
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Steve Davis at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01202 692033.
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Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Frog in pond - photo by Steve Davis
Male smooth new - photo courtesy of Gateway Images
Steve Davis - photo by Dorset Wildlife Trust