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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Moths in the Garden

Temperatures in recent nights have been in the mid to high teens – great conditions for moths. So Philip Strickland set his trap in my garden last night. We got a good haul which will take a while to process but it included some exciting new firsts for me such as a Poplar Hawkmoth literally hanging on the ragwort adjacent to the trap, a Swallow-tailed Moth also caught outside the trap and a beautiful Peppered Moth to add to the Elephant Hawkmoth which I found in my long grass last week.

elephant hawkmoth july 2015 17
Elephant Hawkmoth
poplar hawkmoth july 2015 18
Poplar Hawkmoth
peppered moth july 2015 19
Peppered Moth

Dragonfly Workshop

I was lucky to get a place on a dragonfly workshop earlier this month which was held in the Clara Bog Visitor Centre under the auspices of the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Our course tutors were Eugenie Regan and Brian Nelson, two of the leading experts in the country. The weather was beautiful and we managed to identify all the early season species of damselfly and dragonfly in the field.

Subsequent to this, by coincidence, I discovered that there are two species of damselfly resident in my garden – the Blue-tailed Damselfly (left) and the Common Blue Damselfly (right) – which are a delight to observe.

blue tailed damselfly june 2013 11 common blue damselfly 12 june 2013