Unexpected frogs

25 July 2013

I’m still feeling a bit grotty, so for the foreseeable future, I’m dropping this blog down to a post every third or fourth day. Apologies, but I’ve got to ease the load – I’ve got an underlying health problem (fibromyalgia) which is rather unforgiving.

In the recent hot weather, things in the greenhouses have been needing a lot of water. I went up to the top greenhouse the other day, noticed things were flagging and grabbed the watering can to dunk it into the waterbutt. I’d actually got it into the water before I noticed there was something floating on top of the water, which proved to be a large frog! I was worried it was dead – there is no way it could have got out of the butt with the water as low as it was, so it would have become exhausted from swimming. The movement of the water, however, caused it to wave its legs, so it was obviously alive – hurrah! I grabbed an empty flowerpot and scooped him out, putting the pot on its side with him still inside – he sat there looking a bit dazed (if a frog can look dazed), so I left him to a bit of peace and quiet. Checking on him later, he’d hopped out and under the table, and has now disappeared, so hopefully he has recovered.

Top greenhouse, showing water butts either side of the door

Top greenhouse, showing water butts

The butts outside the greenhouse are very useful. Though I’ve got a hose running right up the garden, the tap is near the house, so if you see something that needs watering, it’s a long trek back down to turn the water on; and, anyway, I think it is best to save as much water locally as possible. We don’t keep the original tops on them, but have fashioned wooden lids, hinged at the back, so filling the watering can is as simple as flapping up the lid, and dunking the can. How the frog managed to get in is a bit of a puzzle, but I can only think he somehow got up onto a table that is round the back of the greenhouse, just out of sight in the photo, via all the greenery, and from there managed to get in the gap under the lid and fall in.

Water in open containers in the garden is always a potential danger to wildlife, so I’ll look at what I can do to avoid this happening again. I’ve already learned the lesson with the watering cans I leave in the greenhouse: I picked one up one day, filled it from the butt and tried to use it, only to find the water was only coming out very slowly. Suspecting a snail up the spout – a regular occurence, I tipped the can upside down and banged it on the ground. To my surprise, not one but two frogs fell out – both seemingly unharmed.

The other frog trap in the garden is the cold frame, round the back of the greenhouse; I cleared it out in mid-summer once, to find seven frogs of varying sizes in there. I think the big ones could get out, but the small ones probably couldn’t, so there is now a frog ramp in the form of a plank of wood sloping from ground level to the top of the front.

Providing water for creatures in the garden is one of the most wildlife-friendly things you can do, so please create some sort of water feature, no matter how small – just make sure things can get out as well as get in. It doesn’t  have to be sophisticated: when we first moved in, there were no water butts outside the greehouse, so an old washing-up bowl caught a bit of water; going up there one day, my husband found a newt in the bowl – the first newt we saw here. Having built a pond, we now see 30+ most years, but I don’t think they’d care if the pond was just a giganitic washing-up bowl – though I’d rather not do the washing up if it was!

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