Wildlife ponds and growling frogs

Posted: Monday 11 March 2013
by Kate Bradbury

“I heard some growling from the shallow pond”, said the text message, from my mother.


“I heard some growling from the shallow pond”, said the text message, from my mother. Frogs have been hiding under rocks and shrubbery in my mum's garden since she moved in nearly 17 years ago; but this is the first time there has been any 'growling'.

I dug my mum her first pond 10 years ago, and although several frogs are often found sheltering in the water, and it's home to a gregarious family of smooth newts, we've never seen evidence of any breeding.

The pond (now known as the 'deep pond') is too deep for mating frogs, and a touch on the shady side. Frogs tend to prefer mating in the shallows of ponds with a fair amount of sunlight, where the frogspawn can warm up quickly in the spring sunshine. The frogs local to my mum have always mated in next door's pond; they have never had reason to extend their passions to her garden.

That is, until now. Last summer I dug my mum a second pond, in order to photograph it for a book I was writing. In contrast to the 'deep pond', it’s a really shallow one, following the excellent instructions on Jeremy Biggs's website (Jeremy Biggs is the Director of Pond Conservation). I dug it deliberately with the mating needs of frogs in mind - shallow and sunny, with plenty of plants for tadpoles to shelter in.

The 'shallow pond' is only 2m in diameter, with a maximum depth of 30cm and gentle sloping sides. It's planted with water forget-me-not, brooklime, and hornwort to oxygenate the water. The day after I dug the pond, my mum's garden had a month's rain in 24 hours, so it filled up naturally with lovely rain water. But the best thing about the shallow pond is that, unlike the deep pond, it's very close to my mum's house, immediately outside her conservatory. This means any activity (such as growling) is much more noticeable, and I therefore receive many more text messages.

“It was more of a low rumbling, than croaking”, said my mum, when I asked her about the noises she had heard. “It was at about 10.30pm, quite magical”. There's no frogspawn in the pond yet, and my mum has already mentioned how cross she will be if the frogs only stopped to 'growl' in her pond on the way to lay spawn next door. It's a start, though, and a very happy one.

Have the frogs been up to anything in your garden pond? Or has the cold weather stopped them in their tracks?

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Talkback: Wildlife ponds and growling frogs
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Rachael Taylor 11/03/2013 at 17:35

I noticed the frogs have arrived the other day but since then the pond has frozen over again. Cant wait for the frog chorus to start. I love it but glad its right at the bottom of the garden as they are very noisy.

Northyorkaster 11/03/2013 at 21:15

My frogs usually arrive about Feb 23 - usually within a day or two! But this year they only arrived on March 8; even though it didn't seem much warmer it did rain at last.  They produced copious amounts of frogspawn immediately so must have been pretty pent up etc! Now all buried under snow and ice again - I hope they're ok. A bit of croaking a couple of days ago but the singing won't really get going until we finally get some balmy mild weather.

flowering rose 12/03/2013 at 20:38

The frogs and toads have started to sing and mate but alas the cold weather has put them off again .of course there has been a few squashed ones due to traffic.

Gardener Richie 13/03/2013 at 09:13

I've heard frogs and toads are a great addition to the garden in that they keep the slugs and other pests at bay. Have you seen the reports of Spanish slugs .It would be good to know if anyone has seen a frog take out one of these guys?? Could be the saviour for our farmers and garden / allotment owners!

normabagg1 14/03/2013 at 20:40

The Frogs arrived in my pond in the middle of last week. They started spawning straight away,and there is now a large amount of spawn. Since then we have had several hard frosts and some of the spawn has been covered in ice. This has not deterred the other frogs, they are still happily mating, ice or no ice.

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