… are contagious!
Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles battled alien invaders for the good of society, yet the popularity of their comic books, TV cartoons and films created a craze for pet turtles, the idiotic and irresponsible owners of which have now created their own alien invaders by releasing their unwanted pets into Britain’s rivers, ponds and assorted waterways?
When I lived in Cambodia in 2013, one of the things that regularly made me smile was these little frogs, the Common greens (Hylarana erythraea), also known as the Green paddy frogs. Although they would live almost anywhere there was a pond or stagnant water, there was one particular pond, in the grounds of a local pagoda, where I knew they could always be found.
The frogs were quite wary of humans – perhaps they had some realisation that the locals considered them a food source – so I would have to move very slowly and quietly ever closer to the pond to try to get photos. And, even then, the slightest breeze or loud noise or change in the light would see some of them leap frantically away to hide, well camouflaged, under a lily pad. And that just made me laugh out loud, which scared the rest of them into panicky hopping. The long narrow pond was also full of waterlilies so, for me, the combination of cute frogs and gorgeous blooms was irresistible.
My social media feeds have been full of the frog spawn people have been finding in ponds all over these isles but it wasn’t till last Thursday, while up the Welsh valleys on a wildlife recorders course, that I was in frog-full countryside. And as we meandered along a track in the Cwn Saerbren SSSI at Treherbert, searching for biology to record, what should we find but two Common frogs (Rana temporaria) enjoying a tender moment together. I hadn’t seen a Common frog before so, though it seemed a tad voyeuristic, I took rather a lot of photos.
At this time of year, the males celebrate the joys of spring with a croaking fiesta to attract the females. The male with the loudest croak wins the contest, and gets to climb on the female’s back, grasping her under her forelegs with the special nuptial pads on his front legs. The pair stay attached like this until the female lays her 1000 – 2000 eggs, over which the male sprays his sperm to fertilise them. We left our couple to continue the process but did collect a small sample of frog spawn elsewhere, for scientific examination. The rest, as they say, is tadpoles!