April 2004 and Frog Spawn Pond Watch.
Please be patient if this page takes a little while to load as I have put fairly high quality photographs on it.
Earlier photos of the frog spawn are available on the on the March 2004 page and later ones on the May 2004 page. It's April 1st and due to the warm weather the last couple of days the Frog spawn has hatched. It's a bit dull for great photos but here's the 'poles all clustered in the spawn. None of them have swum away yet and I would expect them to stay eating the spawn and taking protection from it for a little while (it's quite difficult for fish to get to them with spawn underneath them). I'm fascinated by the fact that most of the tadpoles are a reddy brown colour but one or two are much darker - maybe they change colour with maturity.
Some of the tadpoles are still inside the spawn but I'm sure it will all be hatched in a couple of days. Notice how they all have gills when they first hatch.
Well the following day (April 2nd - 17 days), the weather brightened right up and made it much easier to get good photos. When the sun shines through the water there are less reflections on it. The first picture shows all of the tadpoles clustered in the spawn.
Here are some closer pictures of the tadpoles. They have very two pairs of gills and no eyes as yet but you can just about see them coming under the surface. They also seem to have some kind of nostrils at the front. There are only one or two tadpoles that have left the spawn and I think they have been washed away from it.
It's a couple of days later(April 4th - 19 days) and some of the tadpoles are starting to loose their gills. You can see this in the tadpoles to the right of the photo below. It is a slightly icky picture and you can see eggs that haven't hatched. The tadpoles will eat the lot, spawn, unhatched eggs, dead tadpoles, each other if there isn't enough food - nothing goes to waste in nature. There are now also one or two tadpoles swimming around on the beach with virtually no gills at all. So I should think that they will all be free swimming in a couple of days. One of the large lumps of spawn has reduced in size by about 50% and has dropped down with the weight of the tadpoles.
There's quite a few snails hanging around the spawn. I think that they eat the spawn and the tadpoles appear to be cleaning the algae off of their shells!
We now have tadpoles without gills swimming around!(April 7th - 22 days) - so it's taken just over 3 weeks from laying to proper tadpoles. All of the spawn has disappeared - eaten by the tadpoles. There isn't anything like the number of tadpoles that we had last year when the beach was black with them. The weather may have reduced the number of frogs or it could be a more sinister problem. There has been a very sick looking frog in the pond the last few days - he is quite red in colour and I am worried that he has the viral disease that has been wiping out frogs in recent years. There is little that I can do about it as I don't have the guts to kill the poor little fella - besides which I could be wrong and he could just be resting. For more information on the viral disease see the Froglife website.
It's cheating a bit, but here is a picture of the beach last year at about the same time; it was swarming with tadpoles. They were more advanced as well, but it was a much warmer March last year. The numbers soon dropped when the blackbirds discovered how good they were to eat!!
Blackbirds weren't the only thing keen on tadpoles. Here you can just about see what I think is a dragonfly larvae munching on tadpoles whilst they clean the algae off it's back, blissfully unaware that they could be lunch!
It's now nearly a month since the spawn was laid (April 14th - 29 days) and we have quite a few tadpoles on the beach, although not as many as last year.
You can see in this photo that there are still definitely two types of tadpoles, smaller brown ones and larger, darker ones. Maybe the males and females differ? Anyone know - please let me know.
Well we went away on holiday (April 25th - approx 6 weeks) for a week and the tadpoles have grown. The weather has also got quite a bit warmer and they're congregated on the beach in the nice warm water. There's a lot of duck weed on the pond which you can see moving all over the place with tadpoles under it.
My exciting news today is that WE HAVE NEWTS. I saw two of them just under the surface yesterday and they were swimming round each other in what looked like it might have been some kind of mating ritual :o) I kept thinking I must have imagined it but I saw one again today. They are only little things, about 3 inches long, and paler in colour than some I have seen. Apparently they mate from April to June so I could be in luck and get baby newts. I believe that the female wraps individual eggs in pieces of pond weed so I won't see the eggs but if I'm lucky I might see some newtpoles!! I can't work out what species they are as they didn't look like the pictures of smooth newts I can find. I didn't see any crests but then I didn't see both of the newts that well the first time.
Come back over the next few days and weeks to see the tadpoles grow! More on the May 2004 page
Do you like this page? Is it useful? Please email me and let me know. I always say that you can tell that it's spring when the frog spawn emails start to arrive, but I'm always interested in hearing about people's experiences. I get a lot of spam so put something about tadpoles in the title so I can spot people's emails!!