The Pond Diary 2008
5 February - Since the last entry, the pond has been a quiet place, with the frogs hiding away. On the 2nd there were a few patches of ice veneer on the big pond for just a short time in the early morning, and that evening I could see just 9 frogs at my evening count, and the night before last I could still see only 12.
By last night there were 23 frogs to be seen in the two ponds. While including three paired frogs, more significantly it also included this group of three. It wasn't an energetic group, staying motionless all the time I was by the pond.
There was no sign of any newts.
The Met Office forecast suggests that temperatures will not drop below 4C during the rest of the week, so we could well see the frog numbers rising quickly over the coming days.
Tonight it seems that is already happening - I counted 48 frogs at 9pm,
and one female newt, hunting amongst the pondweed!
At this time of the year, even with so many frogs about, I just do not see any that are hunting food, even if it is right next to them, as in this photograph.
As well as the slug right in front of it, notice the (part hidden) caterpillar to the left of the picture.
7 February - Frog numbers are going up and down like a yo-yo at the moment. Last night, with the temperature dipping down to near freezing I could only see six. Tonight, at 9pm and with the air temperature around 9C I can see 30 frogs, and 1 newt.
This morning I cut and bent into a suitable curved shape a narrow strip of plexiglas (perspex) ready to make a second, and slightly larger version of my mini-aquarium. Just as narrow as the first one, this one will have a longer deep area. Tomorrow I'll be getting some silicone aquarium sealant to assemble it. Once it is complete and the sealant cured it will be left filled with rainwater for a week before I start to use it.
8 February - After another relatively warm day (max 12C), tonight it is cloudless and the temperature is below 4C and dropping at 9.30pm.
Not surprisingly, visible frog numbers are down again. I can see only 16 at the surface tonight, but that number includes this trio in the first energetic amplexus grouping seen so far. The reddish coloured frog in the middle of the sandwich will be the female.
Surprisingly, they are in the small pond where we have never had frog spawn produced (as far as I can remember!) - could this year be the first time?
12 February - The frogs have gone quiet! While we have had beautifully sunny days, the previous couple of clear nights have brought temperatures down to around zero, leaving a veneer of ice on the ponds in the mornings. Last night the temperature didn't drop quite so low (2C).
16 February - It has continued to be very quiet in the pond over the last few days even though the pond stayed ice-free, with only the occasional croak reminding us that there are frogs present. This morning, for the first time, the ponds are completely frozen over after the temperature dipped to -3C last night and, looking at the Met Office forecast, it looks as though they may stay that way until after the weekend.
20 February - Tonight looks as though it may be the first time since my last report that the ponds will be completely free of ice. At 10pm I could see fourteen frogs, but they are silent and ready to dive under water as soon as I move close to the pond. It will need to get a bit warmer than it did today before they start becoming really active again.
21 February - Yesterday's prediction came to pass today as the temperature rose to 11C by midday, remaining above 10C into the evening - it is just below 10C at 8.30pm. While I continued to concentrate on the nest boxes, each time I passed the ponds this afternoon there was the sound of splashes as frogs dived for cover (not much croaking to be heard yet). At 8pm I counted 56 frogs, although no sign yet of a rush to join in amplexus scrums.
22 February - On a cloudy day the temperature topped 12C and the ponds seemed to be fairly busy places, although there were few croaks to be heard and only a few frogs paired up. This evening at 9.30pm I was able to count no more than 32 silent frogs at the surface in the two ponds, even with the temperature still over 10C - perhaps they had seen that the sky was partly clear and so might cause the temperature to fall? Perhaps they will come back out of hiding later as the forecast is for a minimum of 9C tonight.
25 February - Milder weather over the weekend brought the frogs out of their slumbers, and yesterday their croaking could be heard very clearly in the garden. While frogs continued to dive under water as I approached, I was still able to confirm that there were more than sixty active during the day.
While there were no large amplexus scrums underway, there were several pairs that were rolling about enthusiastically in the water, and I spotted this pair, not only tangled up with each other, but also the undergrowth at the side of the pond.
Yesterday evening the temperatures dropped again as the skies cleared, and this morning there was a veneer of ice on the birdbath. However, frog activity kept the pond clear of ice, and this morning we have our first frogspawn of the year.
26 February - Even though the temperature remained mild last night, no more spawn could be seen this morning. Today, even with the temperature up to 11C (but with breezy conditions) the frogs stayed rather quiet and there seemed little enthusiasm for spawning during daylight hours.
27 February - Since yesterday, two more clumps of spawn have appeared, but the pond(s) remain very quiet. In fact, when I went out to check the ponds at 9.30pm the sky was clear, the temperature was below 5C, and there was not the sound of a single croak to be heard.
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