Hugh’s views: Where are the frogs?

Posted on 26th March 2024 | in Community

Towards the end of February while walking along the former railway line near Powburn, despite the traffic noise coming from the nearby A697, I was surprised and pleased to hear the heavy purring call of displaying frogs.

The old railway line at this point, was still wet after recent heavy rain and the overgrown drainage ditches on either side were flooded. However, there was no sign of any frogs. After a while, by following their calls, I finally located their spawning ground on the adjacent flooded woodland floor behind a screen of guelder rose and alders. Here I discovered quite a lot of spawn in shallow water sitting on a much deeper layer of mud. The frogs had obviously decided against spawning in the weed choked ditches, but a prolonged spell of drier weather could possibly spell disaster for the survival of these eggs.

No frogs at this flooded site near Hauxley

It set me wondering why it is that with so much suitable habitat around Amble that frogs seem to be non-existent. Over the past few years, I have not come across a single frog anywhere in or around Amble. I thought that my allotment, greatly overgrown when I took it on, would perhaps reveal a frog or even a toad as I gradually cleared it but this was not the case.

Visits to the flashes in Amble Links in early spring have also drawn a blank, although the sight of common snipe, reed buntings, mallard and once even a water rail helped to compensate for the absence of any amphibians. Other areas including the small pools on the other side of the Links Road were similarly frog-free.

This Spring I have also checked the recently dredged stream and flooded ground behind Kirkwell Cottages but again no frogs. So, what has happened to them all?

Has disease reduced their numbers or have they all made their way to the nearby nature reserve at Hauxley? Perhaps if there is an abundance of spawn in other areas it would help the species to relocate some to suitable habitats around Amble. Relocation seems to have worked well for harvest mice at East Chevington and for several other species at a number of sites around the country.

Seeing a frog either in a garden setting or in the wider countryside was quite commonplace fifty or sixty years ago. How many local children I wonder have actually seen one in real-life?

Hugh Tindall
Are there frogs in Amble? Let us know:

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