The extreme wintry weather of last week is already feeling like a distant memory. This week has been so much milder and there has even been a little bit of sunshine. The smell of cut grass in the garden and laundry flapping on the line has always brought me so much pleasure.
Green corrugated sheets aren’t the most beautiful of adornments for a pond but they provide great shelter for amphibians:
Once the pond water had melted, we looked under one of them to see how the Frogs were getting on. This sight was certainly unexpected:
The female Frog, bulbous with her tummy full of spawn, has unfortunately been flipped over by two over-arduous males and she is stranded helpless on her back as they cling tightly to her:
The couple under the second corrugated sheet had got things much more sensibly organised. The clamping on of a male is thought to trigger the female to lay her spawn and, when she does, he is in prime position to sprinkle his sperm over to fertilise the eggs.
There was a Smooth Newt out of the water as well:
The next morning, a single dollop of spawn had been laid in unfeasibly shallow water at one end of the pond:
I put a trail camera onto it, hoping to capture any further action the next night. The camera got this photo of the spawn towards the end of the day:
The next morning, a whole lot more spawn had been laid, but the camera had failed to take another photo until it took this one:
I wondered if perhaps the camera was not working as well as it once did and so I brought in some more. They look like paparazzi crowding around a celebrity – surely one of these would get the killer shot for the morning papers?
But no, not one of them took a single shot. Obviously something the size of a Frog moving in the dark is not enough to trigger their sensors. For the following night, I put the cameras into time lapse mode which deactivates their sensors and they just take a photo at set time intervals. This worked, but the results are far from outstanding:
Luckily, we had also crept down there ourselves with torches and cameras to try to capture this wildlife spectacle.
There was a lovely loud churring noise coming from the wild pond:
It hasn’t all been about amphibians. On three days this week we have found this Viviperous Lizard basking on the top of a reptile sampling square. It has flattened its abdomen to offer the largest possible surface area to the sun. We had never seen this behaviour before – how amazing:
In the freezing weather of last week, we discovered a Wren roosting overnight in our teapot nest box. One night, there were actually two Wrens in the box – one is already in the box and another is coming in through the chicken wire:
The camera also caught one of the birds leaving at 06.47 in the morning, just as it was getting light.
Now that the nights are warmer, Wrens are still using the box although not necessarily every night.
The Snipe, Lapwing and Black Headed Gull, that arrived in the meadows in the extreme weather, have now left. The Woodcock, however, remains with us:
Some other bird photos from around the meadows this week:
I am going to finish today with the old gentleman Fox who is so much more obvious than any other Fox on the cameras at the moment. Here he is sniffing down a Badger tunnel. Actually, even we can detect a smell of warm, damp earth coming up from there.
He is willing to tolerate me so long as I continue to bring him honey sandwiches and peanuts:
I consider it to be an enormous honour to be allowed to be so close to a wild animal and peanut time has now become one of my favourite times of day.