The number of frogs in our pond is still increasing and things are starting to get a bit aggressive. Today several frogs formed a mating ball and started rolling over and over in the water as I imagine a crocodile would with its prey. The males were fighting over a female and were trying to shake each other off. They even resorted to pushing out of the water and trying to smash each other against the rocks at the edge of the pond. Most of the males gave up at this point, but two were just not letting go. This embrace is called amplexus, but I've not seen two males hug the same female before.
If you turn the sound up high you can hear some of the frogs croaking in this video:
I've given up trying to distinguish between, and therefore count, the clumps of spawn, which is a shame as I'll have to estimate for the Big Spawn Count.
Well it appears to have been six months since I last blogged here. Last year was a comparatively poor year for wildlife at Frog End, probably due to the cold winter/spring, followed by a drought and then a wet summer. This year I'm determined to get out in the garden more and record the species that I do see.
We've had a very mild winter with only a few frosts and no snow. The pond froze over for a couple of days in January, but apart from that it's been quite warm so I'm hoping that more insects will have survived the winter.
This week the first Frog End frogs began to spawn. The pond has been wriggling for three days (except when it was raining - the frogs didn't seem to like that) and the duckweed has simultaneously begun to clear. There are too many frogs to count, especially as the majority are quite shy and don't like it when I step from the house into the garden.
This photo of them in the shallows was taken from the bathroom window:
A few frogs allowed me to photograph them from the edge of the pond:
The garden has been full of butterflies recently - red admirals, peacocks, small tortoiseshells, commas, speckled woods, gatekeepers, whites and blues. Peacock butterfly.
I spoke too soon about there being no dragonflies emerging this year. We've had about 30 hawkers emerge in the last couple of weeks, but it has still been a terrible year for chasers and it's been months since we had any damselflies in the garden. Some of the exuviae are larger than others, but I'm not sure if that's a male/female thing or if more than one species has emerged. Unfortunately the recommended book for identifying UK exuviae (Field Guide to the Larvae and Exuviae of British Dragonflies) is unavailable on either amazon or abe books. This female southern hawker emerged on Friday morning, but didn't leave her perch until Sunday lunchtime It was dry and warm the entire time so I'm not sure what took her so long, but at least she made it in the end.
I haven't dipped either of the ponds for several weeks so will have a go this week to see what else I can find.
I found two larvae of the orange ladybird, a new species for Frog End, on the underside of some hawthorn leaves.
I wrote most of this blog a day before the BBC wrote an article on ladybird spottting, but I didn't get a chance to add the photos until now.
We've had a lot of ladybirds in the garden this year. They absolutely adore the tansy Tanacetum vulgare that we have in the wildflower border.
These are different colour variants of the invasive Harlequin ladybird: H. axyridis succinea: H. axyridis conspicua and H. axyridis succinea I can't find a name for the red one below. Since the harlequin is so variable it's probable that there aren't names for all the colour variants, but if anyone knows differently please let me know. We've also had 2-spots and 7-spots in the garden this year: Worryingly I'm getting more and more used to seeing Harlequins and the native species are beginning to seem really small when I do see them.
As many of you will know from various family blogs, Ian and I got married yesterday. There will no doubt be posts with photos from the wedding on various blogs, but I couldn't resist putting a couple of wildlife-related photos on here.
As readers will know I am particularly fond of dragonflies and from now on I will be able to look at some every day. After seeing a wedding ring engraved with fish I had the idea to have ours with dragonflies and Smooch Rings very kindly agreed to engrave them for us: Ian, being a great lover of otters was not to be outdone so he had a cane hand-carved with an otter by the extremely talented Mark Davies: