Posts tagged ‘Frogs’

July 25, 2013

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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March 21, 2013

Ponds and frogs

21 March 2013

Why did I have to start a blog in one of the latest Springs we’ve had in ages? I want to blog about things I’m seeing and doing in the garden, but there isn’t very much going on as yet. Today’s wildlife total was one queen bumble bee (bombus terrestis, I think) and a few smaller bees, all feeding on hellebore foetida. Mind you, I wasn’t out there very much – had food shopping to do and I hadn’t bought any seed potatoes yet, so dropped into Holme Nursery to get some. At least the nursery looked like they thought spring was on its way – lots of polyanthus and bulbs in full flower and herbaceous perennials arriving.

We have got a bit done outside – the reeds in the pond are one thing I sometimes take down in the autumn, to open up the view, but it didn’t get done last year, so  Chris got into his wellies, found the shears and went for a paddle (not in the deep end!) It’s astonishing how big the pond looks when you can see it’s full size – when it’s full of plants it tends to merge into the garden around it.

Mating frogs in pond

Mating frogs in pond

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any frog spawn this year – we didn’t get any last year either. We had a horrible winter before that, when the adult frogs must have gone into the pond to breed and then it froze over and they died. There was advice at the time that you didn’t need to make holes in the ice (as I usually did) because the frogs could cope, but it didn’t work out like that – maybe because our deepest bit isn’t very deep, and well silted up, or maybe because in the depths of winter the frogs can slow down their metabolism, wheras breeding frogs are presumably fully awake. So I’ve gone back to making holes in the ice if it freezes for more than 24 hours, using a saucepan of hot water. In prolonged cold periods, we’ve used an empty food tin for this purpose, with a long stick through two holes near the top, so we can leave it on the pond and it doesn’t sink down out of reach when it gets through the ice.

Enough gloom – let’s finish with a cheerful photo of a marsh marigold flower in the pond, from April 2008.

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold