Nature Diary: Frogspawn
As the weather gets milder you might spot frogs’ eggs in ponds. But don’t disturb it
A frog’s life: frogs spawn in the same place each year. Photograph: Moment/Getty
If you’re out walking with young children in the next few weeks, keep your eyes peeled for frogspawn, which will begin to appear as the weather gets milder.
These translucent frogs’ eggs, each with a black dot – the embryo – at its centre, lie in clumps, held together by jelly, in the shallow water of ponds and streams. They were probably laid by the same frogs that laid their eggs there last year – and likely will again next year: frogs live for up to 12 years, and every spring they emerge from hibernation to mate and lay eggs in the same pond.
If you go back to the spot over the next few months you might get to see the spawn grow first into tadpoles, then into froglets and, finally, into frogs.
Each year the Irish Peatland Conservation Council asks for volunteers to help out with its Hop to It frog survey. The first was in 1997; by the end of 2017 the council had more than 4,500 records from around the island. More than half of all frogs have been recorded in garden ponds.
These surveys help to monitor Ireland’s frog population, which is protected by the Wildlife Act and the EU habitats directive. It is illegal to collect frogspawn – although teachers are allowed to collect it for classroom use – so be careful not to disturb it on your visits.