Hop To It – Spring is in the Air!

It was raining this morning when I first looked out on my garden pond but when the rain stopped and the pond was still bubbling I realised that it was that time of year again – the frogs were spawning. It was impossible to count them but I reckon that there were at least two dozen frogs participating in this activity. If I described in detail what was going on there is a danger that this blog might turn up in the wrong search engines! My understanding is that the males, or most of them, remain in the garden all year round. Then for these few amazing days females come into the garden presumably attracted by the croaking and I presume also that most, if not all of them, originated in this pond. Where do they come from though given that this is a suburban garden? There are hazards everywhere such as traffic, cats (I had to chase one away today) and herons (see my video below). This is the time of the year that I normally expect to see them although in 2013 it didn’t occur until March probably due to the exceptionally cold Spring. Irish Peatland Conservation Council carry out a national ‘Hop To It‘ frog survey every year.

24 February. Sunday (21st) would now seem to have been the peak day. There was a small bit of activity on Monday and some more overnight spawn. I was away from home for most of yesterday and today but my guess is that there was little or no activity. Although never long this was a particularly short burst this year which could have been influenced by the cold snap and the pond icing over? A few years ago when the pond iced over they came back for a second spawning.

3 March. The frogs returned in force two days ago in larger numbers than I’ve ever seen. There were at least 30 and I’ve never seen them less bothered by human proximity. There were only a few to be seen yesterday and virtually no activity today. Curiously, the amount of spawn in the pond hasn’t noticeably increased – so maybe they just came back for a day of fun and frolics before dispersing for the summer?

28 March. Hundreds, if not thousands, of tadpoles in the pond today!

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Garden Butterfly Survey 2015

Butterfly Conservation Ireland’s Annual Report 2015 has just been published. I get some mentions in the Garden Survey Report and the article I co-wrote on the Comma expansion is also included which I deal with elsewhere. There was no sign of 2014’s newcomers, Common Blue and Small Copper, or any Orange Tips but a late appearance by a lone battered looking Painted Lady on 2nd October brought my species count to 11. I ‘rescued’ the gutsy little Small Tortoiseshell seen here twice, bringing it into my conservatory, and each time it made its way out again. I then annoyed it so much photographing it that it flew up into the apple tree, literally on a wing and a prayer!

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On a wing and a prayer!

 

Overall numbers were down for the second year in a row and I’ll deal with this in more detail soon. This graph compares Red Admiral and Peacock numbers.

Peacock-Red Admiral bar chart
Red Admiral and Peacock numbers

 

 

Comma expansion article

The story of the expansion of the Comma butterfly in Ireland is a fascinating one. I’ve been working on it since last year and bouncing ideas around with my three fellow authors. The article started to come together after Christmas and is now near ready for publication by Butterfly Conservation Ireland so I’ll wait for that before adding anything more.

It’s published!  http://www.butterflyconservation.ie/wordpress/?page_id=4455