Leap frogging into spring!

Common frog © Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts are suffering from global decline and so it is wonderful to see what can only be described as an explosion of frogs at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve this week. Spring must be is underway!

Although on approach the frogs at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve tend to dive for cover when they hear you coming, if you sit quietly you can clearly hear the low croaky call of the males. This is one of the ways the females select their mate – a sexy voice is all important! I won’t go into what happens next, I’m sure you all know about this bit.

There are lots of reasons that amphibians are in decline and including a loss of their natural habitat, disease and water quality. Ponds are becoming fewer and fewer and this is one of the reasons people are encouraged to include a pond in their wildlife gardens. We have effectively built a massive pond at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, as our restoration work has made the area really wet. This wet landscape is full of invertebrate life too, so lots of food for growing frog families.

There are two species of frogs and two species of toads in the UK, but you are only likely to come across common toads and common frogs. Natterjack toads (the second toad species in the UK) are rare and are only found in coastal sand dunes. They have been struggling to thrive in the 60 or so sites where they are found. One of these is our Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve where we have been trying to improve the habitat for these creatures that like really short turf to run across. We’ve done this by removing the invasive sea buckthorn and grazing the area with cows. The natterjack toad is so-called because it also makes a hell of a racket at breeding time and it can also be identified by the yellow stripe down its back.

Adders also love the habitat we have created and they should be emerging from hibernation very soon. Adders are much harder to see and tend to bury into dryer and warmer places, coming out to sunbathe on sunny days. The males emerge first, during March, and bask in groups. I’ll let you know when we get our first sighting.

Charlotte Rowley
Senior Marketing Officer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust