Thursday, February 19, 2015

No frogspawn - it could be attributed to a predator last spring

More welcome wildlife in February is usually the frogs and toads spawning in the pond.

Our pond is man-made and cut into the considerable slope of the garden with banks of earth raising the lower side.

Two years ago their were huge numbers of frogs and toads. As you approached the pond by day from below it, the moment your head appeared over the bank they all dived underwater, leaving the surface seething and churning, as if it was boiling. By night you could hear the frogs calling to each other.

Then last year we had a problem. While there was plenty of spawn, a large rodent set up home in the bank above the pond. What it was, I'm uncertain. I only caught a fleeting glimpse of it though my daughter described it. She saw it slip into the pond and swim underwater, leaving a trail of bubbles before exiting up a well worn slipway to its hole.

It was either a brown rat (Rattus norwegicus) or a water vole (Arvicola amphibious) but do rats swim underwater?

Anyway, the masses of toad and frog spawn last year disappeared without any tadpoles to be seen. Water voles are normally herbivores but will eat tadpoles and even frogs legs.

Whatever it was, the result seems to be that this year we've yet to see any frogspawn or toadspawn (distinguishable as it is in long chains) in the pond.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that they are just late.

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