February is a great month to start looking for signs of amphibians breeding and laying eggs.
This month keep a look out for common frog laying spawn as the weather improves. They are the first of our amphibians to start breeding. Common frog spawn can be easily recognised in ponds with clumps of jelly-like eggs (sometimes forming a large mass) visible on the ponds surface with each egg containing the potential for a tadpole to develop and hatch.
From March we may start to see common toad spawn in our ponds – though this tends to be much harder to spot. Toad spawn is laid in strings of eggs, usually wrapped around plants in the pond and below the water’s surface – so more investigation is required for these sightings!
Next is the turn of our three species of native newts to start laying eggs. Again the eggs are very different from those of frog or toad and even harder to spot! Females lay each individual egg onto a leaf of a plant in the pond, folding this leaf over carefully with their hind legs and sticking this together with an adhesive substance they produce. This protects the egg from ultraviolet damage and predators in the pond. Be aware that unwrapping a newt egg from it’s leaf will likely prove fatal for the egg and uncovering eggs or generally disturbing the great crested newt is illegal without a licence. If you do manage sightings of the above then let us know through Froglife’s free Dragon Finder app in the Google Play and Apple Store! Letting us know when amphibians start breeding in your local patch is useful when determining year to year trends. Also knowing where amphibian populations are and are not located can help Froglife decide on future works to benefit our species.