By Fran Southgate
Sussex Wetlands and Living Landscapes Advisor
The earliest known frog appearance on earth was about 190 million years ago! and toads as we know them evolved roughly 3 million years ago. These intriguing chaps have been around for a while, survived a lot of things, and populated vast areas of the globe. All in all they have been quite successful critters. There is one main species of frog native to Sussex, the common frog, and one main species of toad, the common toad, although we have a few others which have either become extinct or been introduced from elsewhere, such as the marsh frog. What’s great at this time of year, is that signs of frogs and toads are evidence that spring is finally on its way.
Human influence on frogs and toads unfortunately hasn’t been the most positive. The once common toad and common frog are unfortunately no longer that common in Sussex. Many people still think of them as common however, which means that we don’t hear about where they are as often as would be useful to help protect both them and their remaining habitats.
This is where you can help! Now is the time to have a look at your local pond or patch of water, and see if you can spot the tell tale signs of their spring breeding frenzies. It’s easy to do, frogs lay their spawn in big clumps whilst toad spawn comes in long chains like a string of pearls draped over pond weed. It helps if you can tell us how many clumps of frog spawn you find too. Once big mass of frog spawn might contain quite a few clumps. It’s also really helpful if you can send in records of past sightings, as it helps us to keep track of some of the old migration routes and haunts of our amphibian friends.
So how can you tell us about your toads and your frogs? To increase the number of volunteers looking out for frogs and toads, we are encouraging people to submit records they find for frog and toad spawn (or tadpoles/juveniles/adults) in either the PondNet Spawn Survey or on iRecord. iRecord is easy to use online or on a phone, you just create a log in, click on ‘Record’ and ‘Enter a casual record’ and hopefully the rest will be self explanatory.
Alternatively there is a national PondNet Spawn Survey being hosted by the Freshwater Habitats Trust. Click here, for more details, including survey forms and data entry.
Thanks for your help spotting frogs !