You may have heard of the Big Garden Birdwatch, but have you heard of SpawnWatch? For the next two weeks our volunteers will be keeping an eye out for our amphibian friends and any frog spawn – those amazing little green clumps of jelly! We’re working with BBCARG (the Birmingham and Black Country Amphibian and Reptile Group) to see how much frog spawn we can find.

Sometimes you can see frog spawn as early as January, but it’s usually seen in March/April and can be found in shaded, shallow ponds. As we move into spring and the weather gradually gets warmer, our ponds should become bustling underwater cities once more. Here at RSPB Sandwell we have several ponds that are used for pond-dipping, as well as a lake, marsh and numerous small pools. We’ve only got two species of frog that are native to the UK, so if we do spot any frogspawn it’s more likely to be from the common frog rather than the pool frog, as the latter is extremely rare.

 Did you know:

  • Frog spawn is different to toad spawn – you can tell the difference by the shape. Frog spawn is laid in clumps, and toad spawn is laid in a string (like a chain of pearls)
  • The best ponds for frogs to lay eggs is one with lots of vegetation and places for them to hide
  • Only one in fifty eggs will survive to adulthood
  • When the eggs have hatched they will have developed into tadpoles

The SpawnWatch is taking place all over the borough, so if you’d like to get involved or if you have some frogspawn in your garden pond, come and let us know! Or if you prefer you can send us your postcode via sandwellvalley@rspb.org.uk and we’ll put you on the map. All sightings will be added to EcoRecord’s database of wildlife found in the Black Country and Birmingham. Once the information has been collected it will help the Trust to improve and develop conservation efforts in creating ponds and improving habitats.

You can find out more about SpawnWatch here: https://www.bbcwildlife.org.uk/news/2018/02/27/spawnwatch-2018-%E2%80%93-record-spawn

We’ve seen three new visitors this month – newts! One of our volunteers was cleaning the boot cleaner by the front door and out they came!

We’ve also seen a few Bumble bees around too collecting pollen amongst the crocuses in the wildlife garden. This is fantastic news as bees are incredibly important when it comes to pollination, and allowing flowers and plants to bloom across the landscape.

In other news our Pond Dipping season starts on 30 March with our Good Friday Fun Day! Pond Dipping is a fantastic opportunity to get up close with our watery friends, and our volunteers will show you how to use the equipment and the best way of searching for our amazing pond minibeasts. Find out more about our upcoming events on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RSPBWestMidlandsWarwickshire/events/

Photography Credit: common frog - Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com), frog spawn, newts, bee - Andy Purcell

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