Download the Amphibian Identification Guide from ARG UK so you can recognize the different frog, toad and newt visitors to your pond this Spring. They will all be hiding in log piles and bug houses or anywhere protected where they can safely remain in a dormant state during the recent cold weather.
This is a really detailed but easy to use set of images from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (www.arc-trust.org) that shows you the differences between the amphibian species, their males and females, their spawn and their young.
We saw this Smooth Newt male last year. Large black markings and orange stripe on his tail – he is of mating age and returning to the water to attract a female with that flashy tail. We have also seen and identified females – duller in colouring and returning to the water with swollen ‘hip’ quarters that are full of unfertilised eggs.
When the water warms newts will be returning to your ponds this year. They like still water and the female will look for small leaved plants like Myosotis scorpioides (Forget me Not), Mentha aquatica, Veronica beccabunga and Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum (Fools Water Cress) for cover to hide in and to wrap their eggs in.
We have seen no frogs in our pond yet. We had very few last year and hope more may return this year. Frogs like shallow shelf areas so the female has a solid platform during mating and laying of her spawn.
We do not see toads here often. They will be later in the year and like deeper water to mate and lay spawn so we will continue to watch and hope.
Please complete the PondNet Spawn Survey 2018 with any sightings you have of Frog or Toad spawn. You can also return to this site over the coming months and see the map of the UK as the sightings marked move across the country according to the temperatures in different areas. Our grandchildren love to watch this map change over time and it is an easy way to help them understand more about nature.
You will notice on the #SpawnSurvey Map that there were many sightings of frog spawn around England and Wales by 26th February (before the snow came) but only toad spawn sightings in Cornwall.
For more details and photos on the lifecycle of newts, frogs and toads please see our Tips and Advice pages – Encourage pond wildlife:
Suggested plants to help Newts lay and wrap their eggs: