And they’re off…

Today has been a nice sunny day and the warmest so far of 2011 in the north of England (7C!!!!) so I decided to have a walk around my local area to see if there was any amphibian activity. Since the nights had still been just below freezing I wasn’t expecting a lot of activity, but to my surprise the Common frogs (Rana temporaria) were out breeding. There seemed to be even more frogs than last year, I’d estimate at least 200 adults, including some huge mating balls of around 7-8 specimens. Thankfully I only spotted two road killed frogs, as usually at this spot several dozen frogs get run over on their way to the pond at this time of year. Spotting newts in this pond is very difficult during the daytime as the pond is quite shallow with vast amounts of weedy plants below the surface, but many Palmate newts (Lissotriton helveticus) would surely have been busy reproducing under water as well. A few other nice sightings were made, such as a Great spotted woodpeaker (Dendrocopos major) and a Kestrel (Falco columbarius).

Signal of spring: Breeding Common frogs (Rana temporaria) (C) Matt Wilson

Common frog (Rana temporaria) (C) Matt Wilson

Amplexus of Common frogs (Rana temporaria) note the blue coloured male (C) Matt Wilson

The pond (C) Matt Wilson

In addition, my fellow northern herper friend Carl Corbidge did some local herping around his area, and spent the afternoon searching for the first emerging reptiles of 2011. On an area of exposed moorland, he managed to observe 7 male Adders (Vipera berus), females usually appear a couple of weeks after the males. It did however seem to be too cold to observe any Viviparous lizards (Zootoca vivipara).

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Carl Corbidge

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Carl Corbidge

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Carl Corbidge

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Carl Corbidge

By Matt Wilson

2 comments on “And they’re off…

  1. Superb work Matt and wonderful photos. I live in the Midlands (Shropshire). We are blessed to have some fine, surviving peat bogs or ‘mosses’ here and these are a magnet for almost every herp in the region…saves me travelling long distances between species! I have yet to observe a reptile this year, but here’s hoping for some warmer weather soon.

    Keep up the wonderful work and take care,

    Ben

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  2. Thanks for the kind comments Ben.
    In Shropshire you surely have greater numbers of reptiles, in my village the only reptile is Zootoca vivipara, and I have to travel quite a distance to places where snakes are commonly seen.
    This is probably one reason why I spend most of my time herping abroad 😉
    Matt

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