Spring surprises


 They are coming in from everywhere, including over the boundary from Wales. Some are travelling great distances. We are not allowed to go over the border, but the frogs and toads do not have to worry about crossing the line. COVID is not a danger to them.

But they are so intent on breeding that they can put themselves in a different kind of trouble when they travel. It is our roads that are a danger. I have even seen red triangular road signs in North Shropshire with a toad on, which reminds us to take care. I presume frogs are included in this warning but how do you take care? I slowed down but if frogs are on the road then they would not have much chance.

These little creatures are in decline in this country and, apart from trying not to run them over and putting ponds in our gardens, there seems nothing we can do. But some people are doing more, they go out at night in organised groups to collect frogs and toads from the road and take them to safety.

Our frogs have been hidden away under stones or anywhere safe from bad weather and now they are out in force with their mission in mind. I was told when I was young that they come back to breed to the very place where they hatched. So, I sit there on my pond seat and I hear the call of the male frog. It sounds awful to me but not to the female frog – she likes it and comes to see him. Sometimes she is almost underwater, squashed by male frogs wanting to fertilise her eggs. He fertilizes them as she lays them.

All that must have happened here in the night because this morning when I went down to see my little pond there were two clumps of spawn. They were floating like pumped up semolina (does anyone eat that these days?). It is one of the incredibly special signs of spring and it always excites me.

This weekend is the spring equinox which means ‘equal night’, the daylight hours will match the night-time hours. Next week our days will gradually get longer than the night. Maybe our lives will lighten as we move towards the lifting of lockdown.

Here, we have been shielding for a year. I decided to go into isolation early as I thought that it was too much of a risk for me to wait. So, we have come full circle, we are back where we started last year, except that this year, we can expect new life. And I will soon be watching tadpoles.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star on Thursdays)



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