20 Aug 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Searching for frogspawn

Wild About Wildlife: Searching for frogspawn

Best to leave it alone: You shouldn't really take frogspawn from the wild. It Is technically illegal as the common frog is a protected species

THE snow had lifted from most of the countryside and there was a welcoming heat in the sunshine. In the shaded parts of the hedgerow some patches of snow stubbornly held on, but at least the roads were walkable and we could escape from the house.

As the snow melted it created long rivers and I had to be careful not to be beside one, when a car whizzed by. I carefully checked out a few of the permanent pools in the ditch and I was searching for the first frogspawn of the spring.

After a few minutes careful searching I found a small clump wrapped around some water plants. This anchor has saved it been washed onto the road and an untimely end of been flattened by a car or baked in the sun.

Even after a lifetime of discovering frogspawn, I got a thrill for this humbling experience. Along with the spring flowers in the hedgerow this is a sign that the countryside is walking up and the bright long days are just around the corner.

Frogspawn is not as common today and it is illegal to gather. But common sense needs to play its part here and I have often rescued it from a puddle that was drying out and placed somewhere safe.

We have only one species of frog in Ireland and whose range continues to decline. While the female lays up to 2,000 eggs, only one of two will survive to adulthood. In the wild frogs have many natural enemies from herons, rats and fish like pike. On a healthy population these predators have no real effect on the overall population.

The main reason frogs are disappearing is loss of habitat. Thousands of field ponds and small wetlands have disappeared from the landscape, along with the ditches that used to drain fields. Frogs skin is extremely sensitive to pollution and our percentage of pristine rivers, ponds and wetlands has fallen dramatically over the last generation.

Creating or restoring a pond or wet grassland is an ideal project for our gardens or through the biodiversity section of the Tidy Towns. This will also attract dragonflies or flying jewels that shimmer in the summer sun.

Frogs are amphibians and this means that they are adapted for life in the water as well as on the land. The link to water is tenuous but important and the species needs to reproduce in ponds. The rest of the year is spent in wet places like long grass and the base of hedgerows. In winter they might hibernate under a log pile created by a kind gardener or Tidy Towns group.

Frogs can vary in colour from olive green to almost brown. I only recently found out that they can vary their colour to adapt into their environment. This darkening takes a few hours.

Diet is protein based with worms, slugs and flies all eaten. Frogs also have a long flicking tongue that can be used to catch prey.

Upcoming events

Living Limerick with Castleconnell Tidy Towns: Reducing food waste and the benefits for Climate and Wildlife. March 5 from 7.30-8,30pm. Coolbawn bar room at the Castle Oaks Hotel.

An Taisce Living Limerick and the Tree Council of Ireland: Explore the trees of the University of Limerick - March 21 from 11am-1pm. Meet at the Stables.

Also discover the trees and their wildlife of Curraghchase Forest Park on March 22 from 11am-1pm. Meet at the car park.

For More or 089 4230502. Albert is also available to do walk/talks with schools, tidy towns, youth and community groups

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