I didn't plan to have frogs in the garden - they just arrived. I think their arrival was prompted by the removal of the neighbours' pond, as suddenly I found several frogs had taken up residence in and around a tiny "mini-pond" I'd made.
In the autumn of 2002 I made a slightly larger pond to accommodate the frogs, and this is now a settled and well-established wildlife pond. Frogs have lived in and around the pond since it was constructed, and in both years since they've produced frogspawn.
The first pond was so tiny I didn't expect it to be used by wildlife apart from bathing birds. Autumn 2001 saw one of those exciting garden moments, when a frog appeared as I cleared out fallen leaves. This obviously amphibian head sticking up above the water was something I wasn't expecting at all. I realised that though my pond was embarrassingly small, I had obviously done something right. It all looked as I wanted it to, but I didn't expect a frog to think it was any good.
By August 2002 two frogs were visible in the tiny pond. This was an exciting progression from the lone frog seen previously. During the following month, I heard the occasional rumble from the undergrowth that sounded very much like a frog croaking. On one memorable occasion I lifted a stone by the pond and found two frogs sheltering beneath it, side by side. I realised that the frogs were probably here to stay and that these two seemed to like one another. Frogspawn in the pond in spring would be good, I thought, though I wasn't sure how many frogs a small garden like mine could accommodate.
By the autumn, more frogs had found their way to that tiny watering hole. Four frogs were transferred from the muddy mini-pond to the foliage and rocks surrounding the wildlife pond. One frog was found apparently starting to hibernate in the mud at the bottom. I was glad I'd made a new, larger pond, as I couldn't imagine the tiny area of water sustaining that many frogs.
Frogs are generally soothing creatures to have around, when they're sitting in the pond, and particularly when they're croaking by the pondside at dusk. I think I must have seen too many cartoon frogs on TV in my younger years, making cartoonish frog noises, as real frog sounds are nothing like that. The real frogs make a sound that is almost as good as the song of robins or the purr of a cat sitting on your knee for taking you away from everyday cares.
There seemed to be several frogs in the pond in the spring of 2003, and between them they managed to create a jelly-like mass of frogspawn, discovered on the surface of the pond on 1 April. It was as if the small garden pond had been approved. Frogspawn isn't beautiful to look at, but when you see it for the first time in a pond you've dug yourself and planted up yourself, you feel quite proud and childlishly excited - even if you're actually quite old, like me.
I'd noticed the frogs hanging on to one another, obviously mating, in 2003, before the spawn appeared. During the spring of 2004 no such activity was obvious, though as the pond plants were by then providing more cover, it could be that the frogs were hiding from me, remembering how nosey I'd been, the previous year. Despite the frogs keeping a lower profile, spawn appeared in the pond in 2004, in late March.
In 2005, the mating activity involved lots of squabbling and croaking, as more frogs of mating age found their way to the pond.
More on the frogs mating
More on the froglets