‘I was shocked when I heard a loud gurgling sound as I took the bins out one night – but was delighted when I saw what it meant’, says Jane Adams.
I first heard the gurgling when I was putting the recycling out.
It was a dark, wet night, and as I dragged the bin to the curb, the sound grew louder. I wondered if the sewer under the lawn was blocked again, and sighed. Poking rods down the drain hadn’t been a pleasant experience.
Weirdly, when I returned with a torch, the sound had stopped. But waving a light around the garden, its beam came to rest on something unexpected; eighty glistening frog eyes. And as I stared back, their gurgling and croaks restarted.
The possibly-wrong pond
We’d dug a pond the previous autumn. Friends had helped. Dreams of dragonflies flying round the garden had spurred us on. At 2×1 metres, the pond was small. But it had a shallow and a deep end, and a liner, and we’d thrown in a few native aquatic plants. We weren’t sure if what we were doing was right, but it was worth a go.
I hadn’t given frogs much thought until then. Well, you don’t, do you?
And yet ‘common frogs’ are far less common than their name suggests. Slug and snail killing pesticides have cleared many gardens of the common frogs’ biggest food source. Imported diseases have weakened and killed them. And, in the UK, we’ve lost 500,000 ponds in the last century. Is it any wonder common frog numbers have been falling for over 40 years?
The start of something good
That year, the first year I saw them, February started icy cold, then turned to drizzle; the cue frogs need to emerge from the undergrowth and spawn. For a few days, our previously lifeless pond had overflowed with sex crazed frogs, and their clumps of spawn filled the shallows. Local frogs had needed a pond, and I hadn’t even realised.
Fourteen years later, that same small pond is now the wildlife hub of our garden. Mammals and birds use it to drink and bathe. Dragonflies, damselflies, newts, and toads lay their eggs amongst its weeds.
And, as I drag the recycling out to the curb, and February’s drizzle descends, I smile at the sound of gurgling.
How you can help your local frogs:
- Add a pond; they prefer one 2m across, but even a tiny ‘pond in a pot’ helps
- Provide piles of rocks, logs and leaves; spaces to shelter from predators, shade in hot summers and for food foraging
- Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets; an unwanted garden pest is welcome food for frogs and toads, and the chemicals may be harmful
By Jane Adams – Naturalist. bTB Badger Vaccinator. Nature writer. Photographer. Bee Watcher.