Wildlife Pond

Easter Eggs!

frog and frog spawn

Look what I found today in the wildlife pond, what a lovely surprise for Easter Sunday! This makes 9 clumps of frog spawn in total now.

Are you enjoying eggs of the chocolate kind today? We are! Happy Easter everyone!

Vegetable Garden, Wildlife Pond

Ups and Downs

Flash flooding struck our region last week causing chaos to rail and roads, farmland, homes and gardens. Thankfully our home and the area of garden where the chickens are housed were unaffected by the flood, but our kitchen garden sank under water. A week or so of sunshine and no rain to follow allowed the ground to drain away quicker than I thought it would, the soil seems to be more or less how it was before, still damp, but that’s to be expected for the time of year. Looking at the garden now it’s hard to believe it was flooded at all, I did worry about losses in the kitchen garden (particularly the rhubarb crowns rotting) but so far everything seems well.

autumn sow broad beans
Autumn sown broad beans are almost ready to flower
garlic
Garlic doing well

Since my last blog post I built a raised bed in front of the shed and created a gravel path which leads to the greenhouse. This bed is no-dig, thick layers of cardboard were put down to kill the grass and a thick mulch of compost on top.

garden shed
New bed in front of the shed, the frames are on to stop the chickens scratching through to the cardboard underneath!!

I plan on growing courgette, dwarf purple beans and sweet peas for scent and cut flowers in this bed. I also prepared another raspberry bed recently, the original bed I planned for the raspberry canes won’t work due to being waterlogged throughout winter (unforeseen problem) so I really need to improve drainage or change plans altogether.

onion sets in module trays

In the greenhouse I’m planting onion sets into module trays to get them off to a good start, once they root and shoot in a few weeks outside they go. I’m sowing parsley, coriander, radish, peas, spring broad beans, nasturtium and spring onion. Leeks are doing really well and cut and come again salad leaves will be ready for picking soon. Tomato seedlings in the house need potting on now and I’ve just started sowing sweet corn into pots.

leek seedlings

On to some chicken news, I’m sad to say we lost our lovely old Leghorn hen recently so I’ve had the joys (groan) of integrating her pal with the pullets so she’s not on her own. All seems to be going to plan though.

hens
Some of the girls enjoying some late winter sunshine in the kitchen garden

I really dislike integrating hens, but all part and parcel of keeping chickens. All the girls are laying well and appear to be in good health.

frog and spawn

The wildlife ponds are full of froggy activity at the moment, amongst the clumps of spawn are future slug munchers, welcome to the kitchen garden little ones.

 

 

Wildlife, Wildlife Pond

Big Spawn Count 2014

common frogs mating

I’m so excited! I spotted this lovely couple in the wildlife pond early this morning, a pair of common frogs in a copulatory embrace called Amplexus. I rushed to the house to grab my camera before they disappeared. During our first spring living here we saw plenty of frog couples, but until now they had little choice but to use the large Koi pond, ending in disastrous results for the spawn.

The Koi pond
The Koi pond.
Just a few of our Koi
Just a few of our smaller Koi, the larger fish are approximately 2 feet in length.
wildlife pond
The wildlife pond in a sheltered position within the rockery, directly behind the Koi pond. A safe haven for the frog and newt community in our garden smallholding.

If this pair (or any others) spawn in the wildlife pond it will have a greater chance of becoming tadpoles, I’m especially happy because our wildlife pond is less than a year old. We decided to add an additional small pond to our garden not long after moving here, our  intention being to offer the already present frog and newt community a safe place to reproduce successfully.

Have you spotted any spawn where you are? Take part in this years Big Spawn Count and record your findings, the more people counting, the better the information to help provide more of an insight into the amorous lives of toads and frogs.

Anyone can take part in the Big Spawn Count by going to their garden or school pond, and counting the number of spawn present. You can print the form to help you complete the survey, please enter the results on-line afterwards.

http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/big-spawn-count/

I’ll be watching, will you?

Wildlife Pond

Frog Photoshoot

frog

The new wildlife pond is proving to be very popular with the local frog population, everyday the pond is occupied, as well as the pond edges. Because of the positioning of the pond, I’m able to get close enough to observe and photograph the frogs without making them feel threatened.

frog

Using a macro lens allows me to capture their beautiful markings and colouration in a bit more detail. These particular frogs are common frogs, but I think they’re awesome.

frog

Since adding a wildlife pond to our garden, I haven’t seen any frogs in the koi pond. I guess they prefer the safety, privacy and ease of a fish-free pond.

frogs

It may be a new pond, but already it looks as if it’s always been here. Plants are thriving, mosquito larvae are wriggling around, and water boatmen and pond skaters are arriving now too.

frog

Swapping over to another lens I captured a homely shot of this happy little soul, smiling back at me. Hopefully the frogs will spawn here next spring.

Oh the photo opportunities!

frog

Wildlife, Wildlife Pond

Wildlife Pond

wildlife pond

I recently blogged about frogs in the koi pond, pleasantly surprised to see several ‘frog couples’ I quickly realised their spawning efforts would be in vain. Forty (or so) Koi most likely enjoyed frog-egg suppers and breakfasts. I did go spawn-spotting but never got the chance to save it.

Koi

The main pond
The main pond
Just a few of our Koi
Just a few of our Koi

A few days after the frog visits we spotted a smooth newt swimming to the rocks (sadly my camera wasn’t to hand), this was very exciting indeed. Pond life activity increased on and in the koi pond during the recent warm weather, water boatmen and pond skaters have arrived too. We decided to help our amphibian visitors successfully reproduce by introducing a small wildlife pond near the main pond, with plenty of mature plants and large rocks to act as hiding places and cover, the elevated position inside the rockery will protect it to a degree from frost.

wildlife pond

wildlife pond

The rockery surrounds the koi pond, the wildlife pond is just inside the rockery in the photo
The rockery surrounds the koi pond, the wildlife pond is just inside the rockery in the photo

The wildlife pond is quite small, just a puddle in comparison to the main pond, but that doesn’t matter. We placed rotting wood logs nearby and planted grasses, foliage and creeping plants such as Ivy around the pond edge. Inside the pond there’s floating oxygenating plants, floating and potted water cress, water forget-me-not, a submerged lily and marsh marigold. Gradually the plants will mature and provide extra cover around the pond edge, the corners have shallow levels to make it easier for wildlife to climb in and out.

wildlife pond

Happy frog in the new wildlife pond
Happy frog in the new wildlife pond

Already a frog is visiting the new pond daily, every evening a pair of sparkling golden eyes blink back at me from the water. We realise it’s probably too late for spawning frogs now, but it’s there, ready and waiting to welcome pond life throughout the year.

Wildlife, Wildlife Pond

Big Spawn Count 2013

breeding frogs

I’ve seen at least three frog-couples since the weekend, sometimes sat at the edge of the pond and other times swimming around. Each morning (and some evenings by torchlight) I check the pond for spawn but so far nothing. Last year, before we moved house, frogs spawned in the wildlife pond we made, we enjoyed watching the spawn develop into tadpoles and eventually froglets.

frogspawn

The pond here at our new property is deep with no shallow areas (although frogs can get in and out without any problems) and is home to large Koi, if the frog couples I have seen are spawning then it’s very likely the Koi are eating it. There are no other ponds nearby, so I’d like to help our froggy-friends by introducing a small shallow pond within the rockery surrounding the large pond. Under cover of shrubbery and surrounded by rocks and crevices, I’m hoping females will eventually choose to use it.

If you’ve found spawn in your pond, pop along to Big Spawn Count 2013 and use the online form to record your findings.

Wildlife Pond

Pond Life

There has been a surge of activity in the wildlife pond recently. The pond is ‘alive’ with wriggling mosquito larvae, I spotted lots of eggs floating on the surface recently. Last month frogs spawned in our pond, since then I’ve watched the eggs develop into tiny tadpoles. It was amazing to watch them all eating their way out of their jelly world, I’ve never seen tadpoles as small as this before.

The tadpoles are growing bigger and are very active now, resting on rocks and stones when the sun comes out. I’ve seen some frogs hanging around the pond at dusk, naturally, as soon as I approach they dive into the pond.

Pond snails are laying eggs in the weed and on rocks, there’s a mixture of Ramshorn Snail and Great Pond Snail in our pond.

Great Pond Snail moving along the surface of the water

What have you spotted in your pond recently?

Wildlife Pond

Wildlife Pond

Yesterday I found a small frog amongst the rockery plants, a great sign that our small wildlife pond is still attracting lots of wildlife. We made the pond last February, using one of those rigid plastic pond moulds. It has 3 shelves for marginal pond plants to sit on but we added a few bricks and large rocks to make ‘steps’, this should make it easier for wildlife to enter or exit the pond. We also added a small rockery around one side.

How the new pond looked this time last year:

Buying plants for the pond was fun, there were so many to choose from but we tried our best to stick to native plants. Puddle Plants appear to have a good selection: http://www.puddleplants.co.uk/search.php?mode=search&page=1

So far the pond has a pretty water-lily (not a native but hopefully future baby frogs will enjoy using the lily pads), bunches of oxygenating pond weed, yellow flag iris, small rush, evergreen grass and a marsh marigold. The pond is a constant source of fascination for me, being a fairly new pond I’m amazed at the amount of wildlife it has attracted already. We added a few pond snails last year (the population has increased somewhat) and I saw water boatmen, water louse and pond skaters last summer.

I’m hoping frogs will spawn in our pond this year, that would be great. However, I’m currently enjoying planting around the pond to create a ‘wild’ look to give frogs and newts cover from predators. I haven’t seen newts yet but they should like the rockery seeing as there’s lots of hiding places.

The decision to include a wildlife pond to our vegetable garden was mainly to attract frogs to keep the slug population down, but the pond has become so much more than that. I find myself visiting the pond more and more, watching and learning about so many other fascinating water creatures. I highly recommend adding a pond to your garden if you can, it doesn’t have to be an extravagant affair, a recycled sink or raised pot/barrel are just some examples (Flighty’s Plot uses a shallow dustbin lid for a pond at the allotment). Children will be fascinated by water and pond wildlife (I know I was as a kid), with a little extra thought you can add water to your garden safely, especially important if you have young children. Whatever you choose, fill it with water, pop some pond plants in and within no time you’ll be hooked as much as I am.

If you already have a pond, are you also eagerly awaiting frog spawn? Many pond owners are already recording the first frog spawn! Use the Pond Conservation online survey to record your information, all entries go towards the Big Spawn Count: http://www.pondconservation.org.uk/bigponddip/BigSpawncount/BigSpawnCountonlinerecordingform