Finally, the frogs have decided they can wait no longer and have laid frog spawn in our pond.
Frog spawn is late because Winter has been so long and so cold and they have stayed in their Winter quarters for protection. You can create a special home called a hibernaculum for them to help them survive a cold Winter.
Build a hibernaculum in a sheltered, quiet corner of the garden:
- Dig a hole 60cm (2ft) deep and a metre (4ft) across and fill with loosely laid twigs, branches or logs so it looks like a natural log pile.
- You can add extra tunnels using pieces of drainpipe from ground level pointing into different areas of the hole. Cover with old turfs or soil and fallen leaves to make a mound about half a metre high so that all you can see are the tunnel (drainpipe) entrances on the outside of the mound.
- Or make an overwintering house for many amphibians from an old pallet stuffed with leaves, soil, earth, old tiles and anything else that amphibians can bury into or crawl between.
- A logpile left undisturbed will create places to hide.
Frogs have now left their Winter quarters so frog spawn is late:
- They noisily laid spawn last week.
- We hope some survived the frost later in the week.
- The centre of the lump of spawn should survive even if the outside layer of spawn was killed by the cold.
- We have 8 jelly lumps of spawn each the size of a tennis ball in our pond.
- That means 8 adult females visited us this year as each female lays only one batch of spawn in a season.
- Spawn will take about 3 weeks to hatch into brown tadpoles.
- Tadpoles stay in the shallow area of the pond where they were laid.
- Tadpoles need rafting plants that grow out across the water surface to hide under as they are vulnerable to the birds that also visit the pond.
- Provide Myosotis scorpioides, Mentha aquatica, Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum, Veronica beccabunga for cover to hide in.
- In the first weeks feed them on a vegetable based diet from Early Stage Tadpole Food but
- After their back legs have grown they need to move on to Late Stage Tadpole Food which is higher in protein.
- This should enable them to thrive & leave the pond later in the Summer and find shelter in their homes nearby.