Frogspawn and tadpoles

in our wildlife garden pond

Click on the pictures to see a larger view

Three weeks after being laid the frogspawn is starting to develop into tadpoles. Although it may not be obvious in this small picture, the black dot inside the frogspawn jelly is now elongating into a tadpole shape. The weather in this part of Lancashire is often cold, and some mornings recently the pond has been frozen. Cold weather can cause the frogspawn to go milky white and kill it. See the FAQ page.

Developing frogspawn

At four weeks there is a definite tadpole shape now, but the cold spring is hampering development. Some web sites claim that frogspawn takes only 10 days to develop into tadpoles. Not in the North West of England, it doesn't, and particularly if your garden is like ours and is more than 800 feet above sea level.

Now five weeks old and much of the frogspawn now looks like miniature eels, clearly visible on top of the jelly. This the next development stage, the change into true tadpoles, complete with wiggling tail, and yes, it's still cold!
Update - The following year the warm weather meant that the tadpoles reached this stage a full two weeks earlier than in the previous year.

Tadpoles, five weeks after the frogspawn appeared in the pond.

Now looking like 'proper' tadpoles

It's now seven weeks since the frogspawn was laid and we have thousands of 'proper' tadpoles. If only a small proportion of them develop into adult frogs, the slugs had better watch out!
Update - Although the weather is warmer, and the tadpoles hatched earlier, this year's tadpoles are at this stage. Nature seems to have a way of evening things out.

15th June - Disaster strikes! A 'flash flood' (the heaviest sustained spell of rain in the area for 20 years - and it rains a lot in Lancashire!) caused the pond to overflow into the surrounding garden with the loss of many tadpoles who seemed intent on making a bid for freedom instead of staying in the deep water of the pond. I scooped up as many as I could with a tablespoon! I also cleaned the pump filter and found that many had sneaked through the thin plastic grille of the pump housing and died. No wonder frogs lay so much frogspawn. I have replaced the pump's inbuilt sponge filter with a Rotorflush external filter. This has a fine wire mesh to avoid a recurrence and minimizes pump maintenance. I have also installed a controlled overflow pipe to the pond. This is fitted with a fine gauze to prevent siphoning out the tadpoles as well and it should cope with future storms.
14th June (the following year) Ironically, almost a year to the day we had another 'flash flood'. This time there was no scooping up of tadpoles from the garden, so the controlled overflow system was obviously effective. The tadpoles are still small; not even any legs yet. The weather has been terrible for the whole of May and the first half of June. Rain almost every day, overcast skies and consequently no sun to warm the water in the pond.

28th July Tiny froglets were seen in and around the pond. The frogspawn was laid on 4th March, so it has taken a long time to get to this stage, certainly much longer then the text books say!

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