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March 11th- frog blog and yaffle waffle

The frogs have been very active in the garden pond since Sunday evening. This has resulted in 7 clumps of new spawn. It shows how effective a garden pond is at bringing in wildlife; no spawn in the garden in 2019 and now the annual sight of frogs arriving to breed. In the nearby flooded meadow frog spawn is well developed after being laid a couple of weeks ago. For some reason the spawn in our garden is a good deal later. A grey heron has been taking spawning frogs from the meadow. These frogs are extremely vulnerable with virtually no cover.

Tolly and I inspect the garden pond with a torch each evening. We are recording palmate newts on most evenings as well as many frogs. The great diving beetles have also been active at night. Once you have a pond in the garden it is hard to imagine being without one. It brings so much pleasure and interest throughout the year.

The ragged robin and cuckoo flower plugs I planted around the edge are growing well and should hopefully flower this spring. I hope the cuckoo flower will attract orange tip and green-veined white butterflies to breed. It is a food plant plant for the caterpillars of both species so we hope to see the females lay eggs on the plants.

It is worth remembering when planning a wildlife garden that although nectar rich flowers are important you should try to provide food plants for the caterpillars of butterflies and moths. For example whilst it is lovely to see small tortoiseshells on a buddleia, to survive as a species they must have nettles on which they can lay their eggs, so try not to be too tidy and look at a list of caterpillar food plants as well as nectar rich flowers for the butterflies and other insects.

The ‘yaffle’ call of green woodpeckers is a very frequent sound around the valley again. It is a rather mournful sound to my ears but very beautiful. The call is particularly frequent in the first half of the morning. I managed to find a ‘yaffling’ bird in the dead sticks at the top of a diseased ash tree. I have not often had a really good view of a green woodpecker in a tree, so to view this male at length through the scope was a wonderful start to the day. They are very striking birds, a bird I remember admiring in my first bird books when they seemed almost mythical, so colourful but with that intense stare.

 

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