Have you seen any frogs or newts in your garden or around the parish recently?
You may remember this recent post in the Parish newsletter:
‘Greener Great Coxwell (GGC) is concerned about the apparent decline in the number of these fascinating creatures in our village over recent years. There are likely to be a number of reasons for this including loss of habitat, environmental pollution and predation. GGC would be pleased to hear from people in the parish with their perception of whether numbers of these animals declined, or even increased, over recent years.
Have you seen any newts or frogs in your garden pond or anywhere else in the parish recently?
Do you plan to encourage these animals to your garden by establishing a wildlife pond?’
Replies received (anonymised where necessary)
- We certainly have/had newts – when we downsized the pond we saw a load and moved them to the new pond, also the odd toad and frog. Not seen anything yet this year but I have not looked either.
- I have seen a number of frogs in my garden. They are small to medium in size and frequent my back garden. No sign of anything else.
- When we came to the village nearly 22 years ago we had masses of frogs in the garden pond and all over the garden. Since then they have declined and we rarely see any. We do however have newts that breed in the pond and when cleaning it out find baby newts. Also dragon flies lay eggs there too.
- Just reading the newsletter and saw the bit about amphibians. As you know I raised this last year as I had noticed that there were no tadpoles in the pond near the barn. This was always alive with tadpoles and was the only place I had seen frog and toad spawn. I was so upset last year to see so many fish and no tadpoles. I went back this year and again there were none, but there didn't seem to be so many fish.
- We had quite a few frogs and toads but after a visit from a grass snake a few years ago they disappeared. Our garden is walled and I don’t think it would be easy for frogs and toads to gain access to repopulate our wildlife pond.
- A small toad came to visit us yesterday morning, we saw one exploring our hallway. We didn't think he/she was very happy indoors so I picked it up and put it in the pond. At one time we had plenty of frog spawn and frogs, but not for a year or two, but I have seen a grass snake.
- We have a fairly large pond in our garden and over the years we have seen changes in the number of tadpoles. In 2020 the pond was teeming with them and they had begun to change into frogs, then one morning we saw 3 grass snakes in the pond and the tadpoles were almost completely gone. 2021 no frog spawn. This year we had 6 clusters of frog spawn and tadpoles emerged, unfortunately on this occasion the goldfish had most of them. There do seem to be more grass snakes around lately and one theory is that more people have compost heaps.
- Five or ten years ago I always used to see a toad or two around the large pots I have on the patio and at that time I found one had got into a bag of compost too, I guess to hibernate, but I have not seen a toad for a couple of years now. I used to see a frog or two in the stream area when I did an annual tidy up of the stream at the bottom of my garden. I have not been able to work on the stream recently but last year saw a good size frog as well as a froglet in an overgrown area further up the garden. I haven't seen any this year yet. I am planning to create a small, secluded area with water for birds etc, and I hope this may in fact encourage more wildlife of varying types but it hasn't been constructed yet.
- When we came to Great Coxwell in the late 1960s, in early April for a few days large numbers of frogs made their way out of the fields to deposit their frog spawn in the village pond. We used to help them cross the road and through the gate without being squashed by cars. Every year there were lots of tadpoles of frogs toads and newts in the village pond. I walked around the village pond yesterday and there were no tadpoles and scum on the surface. Something appears to have been put in the pond that has killed all life therein. This has caused me great concern. It needs a test sample to find out what is going on. In answer to your question there has been a drastic reduction in numbers of frogs and toads in the village. I have a small wildlife pond and do have tadpoles. Due to the dry weather the water level is low.
- We had one lot of frog spawn this year (we used to have more) and many tadpoles ensued. We also have at least one frog in our pond (seen today). We also have seen newts, so the tadpoles will provide them with plenty of nourishment!
- I have seen a frog/toad in my garden yesterday – I think it was probably a toad, but will look out for further signs in the pond!
- We found 7/8 frogs in the pond here. There is a massive layer of plant material that I was trying to separate and when I did that we kept seeing them come up out of the water- one at a time. 2-3 big ones and 3-4 smaller ones. They seem to come out to sunbathe most days although now everything is really growing so it’s getting harder to spot them.
Thoughts and observations
Anecdotally we seem to have fewer of these creatures in our local environment.
Without robust rigorous research we can’t be sure as to the reasons for this. There are grass snakes in the village but there are other predators which feed on frog spawn and tadpoles such as fish and newts.
Snakes are protected and it is illegal to kill or harm them.
It is inadvisable to put pet goldfish in wildlife ponds as they will eat tadpoles. Separate ponds for wildlife and ornamental fish are advised.
The pond next to the barn is regularly tested (monthly) for water quality and has been sprayed with selective herbicide to kill the pennywort. This would have had no impact on the fauna in the pond and in fact should improve the viability of the pond. There are fish in the pond and they may have contributed to the decline of the numbers of amphibians. Greener Great Coxwell is working with the owner, the National Trust, to improve this important local feature
Although it is not illegal to move frogspawn and tadpoles from areas with high populations of amphibians to ponds which lack them, this is discouraged as it may spread disease and other non-native plants.
See the following quote from the BBC Countryfile website:
‘Don’t move spawn or tadpoles into a different pond, as this can spread non-native plant species and amphibian diseases. Ponds that already contain spawn may not be able to support the increased population, and ponds that don’t have any spawn are unlikely to be suitable for frogs — if they were suitable, the spawn would already be there. There are many reasons why a pond may not contain frogs, and one of the most common explanations is newts.’
Ian Mason (Greener Great Coxwell)