The Pond Diary
February - 2003
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This picture was taken at about 7.30pm. A female is sandwiched between two males. The combination is unstable and rolls over and over as each male strives to be on top!
I could see several dozen other frogs in the ponds but I didn't try to count them while taking the photographs.
The first sighting of adult newts in the pond this year - I spotted two of them in the big pond, with this blurred image being the only one I managed to grab before they disappeared.
At 9pm I checked the pond again and there were 26 frogs in sight, fewer than I saw earlier. The skies are clear and the air temperature about the pond is only 0.6C, while the water is at 4.2C
5 February - Since that last entry it has been a case of cold and thin ice stop play. Today it started to thaw but tonight there is a thick frost again and the water is completely covered with ice.
8 February - There has been a quiet period since my last report. The ice has all disappeared again and the water temperature is nearly 6C this morning (the air temp. is 9C at 10.15am).
Despite these milder conditions the frogs seem reluctant to get going again. There are quite a few visible this morning (last night I counted around 55) but I do not see any frantic searching for mates going on.
10 February - The quiet spell continues. Tonight I counted some 53 frogs in sight. Some of them are paired up but there is still no sign of the the great frenzy beginning.
12 February - Little change. I can still count some 50-55 frogs tonight, many of them are paired up, there is a bit of croaking to be heard but they seem to lack enthusiasm so far. They are more sensitive to the movement of other frogs now. In the day they were very nervous, diving whenever I went near the pond.
13 February - The roller coaster weather continues. A day which became sunny after a dull start was also colder again. Tonight, at 10.15pm the air temperature is only 1C with a frost promised. There was very little frog activity all day and tonight I could only see 7 at the surface.
14 February - St. Valentine's Day it might be, but romance is on hold for the frogs this morning as the pond is again completely covered with ice. While the water temperature is 3C the air just above is at -4C at 8.50am.
Tonight, as the air temperature dropped below freezing again, I spotted this pair. They had pushed their way up through the thin ice under the shelter of a leaf.
Later, I found another pair doing much the same thing.
20 February - Today has been a little less cold, but the ponds are still largely icebound, and with a clear sky tonight new ice is forming where melting had taken place during the day. at 9.30pm I could see four pairs of frogs poking their noses into the air under the shelter of plants, where the water was still clear of ice.
22 February - What a difference a few hours can make - after the ice persisting for days, after a frosty start this morning, today's high of over 11C soon melted all the ice on the ponds.
Most of the frogs have seemed reluctant to take advantage of these 'balmy' conditions. However, these three have been together all afternoon. Constantly moving and rolling about near the centre of the pond they seem to use their legs to fend off the arrival of other frogs.
23 February - The temperature has been over 11C again today and there has been a great deal of frog activity in both ponds.
This afternoon I could see in excess of 60 frogs, but none in pairs. It seemed as though they were all waiting, somewhat impatiently for the right partner who had not yet arrived. Any movement caused some to investigate but no clinches resulted.
For the first time this season the croaking has been loud enough to be picked up by the birdbox microphone. I spent some time lying by the side of the big pond, pointing my camera at a likely vocalist. I had to wait for ages while neighbouring frogs croaked over and over again before, finally, this one obliged just once!
An update at 8.30pm - I have just returned from the having counted a definite 101 frogs between the two ponds, as well as at least five newts in the big pond. Tonight the frogs are far less sensitive to my moving (slowly) about. There were numerous pairs but everything is still very relaxed there at the moment, and they are all quiet. With the air temperature still at 8C, the water is now at 6C.
24 February - The ponds are noisy places today with a great deal of croaking going on, although there still seems to be a shortage of females showing signs of being ready for spawning. Very few frogs are paired up by lunchtime.
I watched this group for a while during the late morning, and the reddish coloured female that is the centre of attraction could well be the same one I photographed two days ago. They were rolling about in the water and every so often her legs would stick up in the air as the bundle of frogs flipped over.
26 February - The first frogspawn has appeared.
It wasn't spotted until this afternoon because it is in a shallow area of the big pond, at the point where there is a lot of 'traffic' between the ponds and where the water is cloudy with mud churned up by the excited frogs.
Earlier today I managed to count 105 frogs visible on or around the ponds, and the croaking has been non-stop all day.
It is a fairly relaxed crowd, with only the occasional burst of excitement as something moves and a touch of mass hysteria follows, subsiding as quickly as it begins.
A bit of late news at just after 10pm. The sound of croaking is as loud as ever, and, as the picture shows, it looks as though the major spawning in now underway.