Not likely to find any breeding activity today!

I’ve just found my first frog spawn for 2011. I’m up by arrochar and in a very small pool by the path there is a single spawn clump. One lone male was also in the pool so I weighed, measured and buccal swabbed him before returning him to his search for females. The water temperature was 4.3oC so still quite chilly to be breeding. I’m currently waiting and hoping more frogs turn up to breed, I’ll post some pics later.

It’s nearly that time again when the frogs come out to breed and the amphibian season gives us an excuse paddle around in ponds with nets and buckets. The frogs are already breeding in Wales and southern England so it shouldnt be too long before they are here too (snow permitting). Last year they started spawning in early March around Glasgow, but this year I think it will be much earlier, due to warmer temperatures compared to last year (believe it or not!).

As always, I’m keen to hear of any amphibian sightings and look forward to hearing when people start seeing spawn. Check out the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK website:

http://www.arguk.org

to find your local group and to get involved with amphibian and reptile research and conservation across the UK. The Clyde ARG website has details of activities that are going on in the Glasgow area:

c-arg.webnode.com

Happy hunting!

Here is a video made by Andy and Flavie of a common toad (Bufo bufo) at Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in the Trossachs National Park this weekend. The chirrups of the toad you can hear on the video are release calls. Release calls are used during the breeding season by males who have been clasped accidentally by other males. In the explosive breeding of the common toad, males looking for females will often clasp any toad they see. By recognising the release call and letting go they do not waste breeding effort and can instead look for a female to form amplexus with.

Here are some photos that have kindly been sent to me of a common frog, a common toad, some tadpoles and a palmate newt. The photos were taken whilst on the hills, or in the case of the toad, in a back garden. It goes to show the range of amphibians that can easily be spotted if you are keeping an eye out and how diverse Scotland’s wild places are. Thank you also to everyone who has been sending in their sightings. I will put a printable sightings sheet for frequent walkers on the website before next season.

Palmate newt on Ben Larachan from Lorna Smith

Lochan on Ben Larachan Ridge, Lorna Smith

Common toad in garden in Renton, Jeremy Watson

Tadpoles on Ben Starav, Lorna Smith

Common frog on Stob Ghabar, Andrew Dalton

I’ve now heard that the frogs are metamorphosing in Dundee, does anyone know whether they have metamorphosed further north than this yet? I’d be very interested to hear from you

All the low altitude tadpoles are now escaping their watery homes en masse as froglets. An interesting point: despite up to a months difference in when spawn was laid across my six sites, all have metamorphosed in the same week. Therefore, the tadpoles have taken between 3 and 4 months to develop.