Since the middle of February we have spent an unhealthy amount of time speculating about frog sex and its consequences. We knew we had frogs around the ponds, their evening serenade of croaking had been an early delight when we first moved in. But we had no idea how many amphibians would be drawn to these rather nature-unfriendly structures as the days began to lengthen.
The frogs arrived first and in the greatest numbers. Frog fights and frog fornication seemed to drag on for weeks. The first bout of heavy March snow brought everything to a halt as the top six inches of the pond froze solid, but within days of the thaw things were as lively as ever. Livelier in fact, as toads and newts now joined in the fun. By the end of the month - in time for the second big freeze - the pond was covered in spawn.
The casualty rate among the breeding frogs was alarming - perhaps because the extreme weather added to the very considerable strain of mating and spawning. We did our best by making it much easier for animals to get in and out of the steep sided pond, but the mortality rate remained high.
By mid-April the toads and frogs had largely departed, but the pond remained teeming with life. Not only had the frog spawn begun to hatch, producing clouds of tadpoles clinging to every surface, but the pond was now awash with newts. Most plentiful were the tiny, web-footed Palmate newts, but we have also seen slightly larger Smooth newts and even a pair of large Great Crested newts. In the recent hot spell we have watched them contorting around each other like miniature seals or otters. Soon they too will be gone, but the pond should be alive with their tiny off-spring for months to come.