The Pond Diary 2006
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7 February - It has been a quiet start to the month as far as the pond goes. While the weather has been cold there has been only the occasional touch of ice on there. The last two nights have seen the minimum air temperature rising to 4C and then 6C. Today's high of nearly 8C has helped the water temperature to reach 5C, from a low of 2C four days ago.
The air is damp, and with a bit of luck we will get some rain tonight. If the forecast is correct, we will see ice on the pond again by the end of the week, so if we don't get rain overnight I will probably top up the pond again tomorrow.
Tonight at 9.30pm I could again see seven frogs, including this pair.
A short period of rain last night did help to fill the big pond, but I have also topped up the level. Tomorrow I may skim off some of the duckweed.
10 February - A bright, sunny morning started with both pond frozen over after last night's low of just short of -2C. By 1pm the air temperature was back up to 5C and much of the ice had gone.
There is a slight n-nw breeze and this afternoon it is now scattering the seeds from the Reedmace that had already burst.
The seedhead at the other end of the pond is still to show any signs of bursting.
Yesterday I cleared a lot of duckweed from the big pond, so that there are now some small clear areas.
The, last night, as the ice was forming, in one of those places I spotted a submerged pair of frogs in a loose amplexus grip, so we are definitely starting to approach the time when, ice permitting, the pond will become a very busy place.
12 February - The first scrum of the season!
Yesterday started with ice covered ponds, with the ice taking most of the day to clear. In the evening the water was again covered, but by midnight cloud cover and a south-westerly breeze started to raise the temperature again. Rain moved in and by this morning the big pond was completely full. Subsequently, the rest of the day has been wet, although the rain has only been light.
There are at least eight frogs involved.
Elsewhere in the ponds I counted 28 frogs, a number I'll be checking again later - no more at 11pm.
13 February - A dry, cloudy day. After a very mild night which didn't drop much below 8C, it is over 9C at 6pm.
In the ponds there hasn't been any significant increase in activity since yesterday. I saw small 'scrums' in both ponds, but these seemed short-lived. During daylight hours the frogs are very sensitive to movement so I can't get close enough to do any worthwhile counting.
This pair weren't worried by me taking several photographs of them. The loose 'fingers' suggest that the amplexus grip is not yet as enthusiastic as it will be when spawning is imminent.
Rain is forecast for tonight. It will be interesting to see if more frogs take advantage of the wet conditions to move in.
14 February - No spawn appeared on St. Valentine's Day! We have had a showery day, and mild again. It was around 10C at 8am, but dropped a few degrees in the course of the day. The rain ensured the big pond stayed at its maximum level, and the water temperature at 7pm is 7C.
Frog activity has been quite quiet today with fewer frogs visible, and just one flurry of mating activity seen, although this was the most enthusiastic scrum so far. It took place half out of the water, and at one stage the female was sliding along on her back as she was pushed between the plant stems.
If you click on the picture you can see three large images of the group, which involved mainly four males, with two others becoming involved briefly.
15 February - A remarkably quiet day in the pond. I haven't seen any pre-mating behaviour apart form one pair in a loose embrace. The numbers are increasing slowly, with at least 46 to be seen tonight.
I have to be careful in comparing progress with this time last year as we were away for several days, but over 70 frogs were here by the 12th February, so things are a bit slower this year. Mind you, a year ago today the pond was frozen over as we entered a cold spell with snow that lasted into March.
18 February - The quiet period continues for the frogs - in fact I can only count some 38 tonight, with a couple of pairs in loose embraces, and most of the frogs are staying under the surface. I usually expect to see this during cold weather when the water temperature is within a couple of degrees above freezing, but tonight it is at 6C.
This group was seen last night, in the small pond, but there is no sign of spawn today.
The female is the frog with the orange, rather than white chin, near the top of the picture.
Each Spring I find newtlets, complete with gills that must have spent all winter in the water, and today was no exception, when I scooped one out when skimming off duckweed. It was put straight back in.
Tonight when I checked the pond around 9.30pm I saw this adult newt, the first one seen this year, and a relatively early arrival as the newts will not start egg laying until after the frogs have spawned.
The picture was taken in a bit of a rush before it disappeared into the pondweed, and the camera's autofocus was fooled by bits of Duckweed on the surface of the water, or maybe the flatworm which can be seen above the newt.
22 February - Just a brief note to record that since the last entry, activity in the pond has come to a near halt, with hardly a frog to be seen. The water temperature is now down to 4C and there have been no overnight frosts, but there has been a cold North-easterly wind, and daytime light levels have been pretty low for most of the time.
Despite the air temperature staying only a degree or so above freezing since yesterday, the thermometer in the pond is still registering 4C and there is no sign of ice on the surface.
I checked the big pond at 5.30pm and there are signs that the snow is forming a slushy coating on the surface. With the forecast for -2C tonight I suspect that there will be an ice cover by the morning.
During the day I do not recall seeing a single disturbance to the water surface, apart from the occasional birth bath. I think the frogs have retreated until this cold spell passes.
26 February - The last few days have been cold with north-easterly winds, but without frosts, and there has been just the odd sighting of a one or two frogs. The last two days have been bright and the daytime temperature got to over 7C today with less strong winds.
This seems to have encouraged some frogs and tonight I was able to could fourteen, including this group that has been rolling around in the middle of the pond for a couple of hours.
Before they get too excited, perhaps they should be aware that the wind is forecast to swing round to the north giving colder weather during the next week!
Click on images to see larger versions