The variable weather this year is causing problems for our amphibians. Back on the 24th December when temperatures reached the dizzy heights of 14 degrees C the first female frog made it to the pond.

Not a good move bearing in mind the snow and ice that followed. However the warmer temperatures over half term week have brought out the rest of the frogs and a couple of hundred are now doing what they do best each Spring.

The toads always arrive a little later as they generally have to travel further from their holes up in the forest. They need wet nights with the temperature above 5 degrees C to get mobile.

The males wait on the forest paths and grasp the females with specially adapted pads on their fingers holding on tight until the pond is reached. They often get lost around the visitor centre and are found the next morning stuck in drains or doorways.

There are always more males than females in the pond and this can cause the frantic activity easily seen from the bridge or bank. The reason for this is that whilst most of the males  return each year to breed only about half of the females do so.

The skin of the toad contains enough toxin to cause serious symptoms, affecting the heart and respiratory systems, and causing vomiting and nausea. Very similar symptoms in fact to those produced by the effects of the Foxglove plant which grows across the Queen Elizabeth Forest.

Once each toad couple has laid their 10 foot long string of spawn they will leave the pond and return to the forest. The tadpoles will hatch in 2-3 weeks and leave the water themselves some 10 weeks later, with a life expectancy of 10 or more years.

The Park rangers are currently restoring the Holt Pond which can be found up in the forest on Holt Down. This has been in poor condition for a couple of years now and it is hoped to have this project finished in the next few days to be ready when the first newts arrive.

The new events guide the ‘Park Pages’ will be available soon from the visitor centre and from the web-site. This will cover wildlife walks, talks and our 24 hour nature hunt the ‘BioBlitz’, from April through to September.

More information at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

 

Advertisements