Tuesday, 17 March 2015

March 17th Mousehold Heath, Norwich

Vinegar Pond
Each spring, one area of Mousehold Heath errupts to life. Vinegar Pond is a natural pond formed by a build up of rain water, though in recent years it has been given a plastic sheet to stop it from drying up anymore. The reason is that this pond is a vital spawning area for frogs. This year is no different as hundreds of these amphibians are here laying and fertilizing thousands of eggs in this large muddy pool. And dispite the local dogs plunging into the pond now and then, this apparently does not put them off their mass orgy.

Frogs galore!
I sit by the edge of the pond armed with my camera and watching them splash around causing the water to ripple and stir. Many eyes peer from the surface. Some coupled together, while others appear to by single, but there may be more underwater in the murk in which I can't see. Now and then, a leg or two sticks up briefly as the frogs wrestle in a mass ball as smaller males swarm over the bigger females. The sounds coming from the pond is incredible. It is like a combination of chainsaws, distant helecopters and loud snoring sounds all rolled into one, it was loud!

The result of all this activity is the next generation of frogs. The pond was packed full of frogspawn. One area was so built up with the stuff that it looked like mud at first glance until I took a closer look to realise that it was a mass clump. It was hard to tell how many clumps of frogspawn has made this super clump, all I can tell was that it was massive. My estimate is that there is perhaps over a hundred clumps of frogspawn in this pond. There might be more layered under the top layer of spawn which I can see, I just don't know.
The super clump
Within this mass of transparent jelly is a tiny black spot in each sphered capsule. In a few weeks time they will grow and hatch into tadpoles which eventually grow legs and lose their tails to become young frogs. Nature is full of miracles like this and the best place to see it is in your local pond.

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