Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Year of the Frog?

You really do learn something every day, don't you? At this time of year I spend a lot of time staring into my small-but-beautifully-formed garden pond hoping to spot some movement among all the foliage.
It's time for the frogs and newts to move in and to celebrate that Eighties classic 'Love Action' in their own special way. Two or three springs ago the pond was so full of sex-crazed frogs that the spawn threatened to overflow the sides.
Then I was counting a dozen or more frogs at any one time, but more recently only two or three have been turning up. Disappointing.
I've assumed that it's all been about the last two or three very cold winters, but perhaps there's more to it than that. Reading Sussex Wildlife Trust's blog today I see that of its FAQ on all things amphibian one is about frog/newt interaction.
Photo: Viridiflavus
Last year my pond was home to lots of smooth newts. Looking into the water with a torch after dark you'd usually see seven or eight going about their business.
Now, I know that newts predate small tadpoles, but hadn't thought they could have that much of an impact. But SWT reckons that the two have a "boom-bust" relationship. Ponds with lots of newts tend to have fewer frogs, it says.
As frog numbers fall though a pond supports fewer newts - and that can make for more frogs in following years. So, will 2012 be the Year of the Frog or the Year of the Newt?

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