Saturday, 16 June 2012

Help frogs, toads and newts with a garden pond


A pair of Common Frogs 

Do you like frogs? I do and have done since I was a little boy. In my childhood days, tadpoles were a common sight in ponds in parks, gardens and in fields in the countryside but sadly that is not the case today.
Most amphibians are presently under threat with fast declining populations. Habitat loss, pollution, pesticides and herbicides, Climate Change, deaths caused by traffic on roads, and the chytrid fungus are all taking a heavy toll. So we all need to do what we can to help in the conservation of frogs, toads, newts and salamanders.

Most amphibians need water to breed in. They gather in ponds, lakes, canals and wherever they can find enough freshwater suitable for their needs. This means that if you have a garden then you can make a significant contribution in helping the local populations of frogs, toads and newts by having a garden pond.

Ely
When I lived on the Ely estate in Cardiff I made a pond using an old bath that someone had thrown away. It had been thrown out and into a rubbish skip in the street I lived in but I saw a use for it so salvaged it. I dug a big enough hole in the lawn area of my back garden and put the bath in place. I got a plug to stop water getting out, filled it up, added some large rocks so that anything that fell in could climb back out, and got some water plants from a local pond.


Common Frogs
Within just a few years I had a thriving colony of Common Frogs (Rana temporia) and Palmate Newts (Lissotriton helveticus) using the home I had given them as a place to breed. It was wonderful seeing them gather there each spring. I know my efforts inspired others to have a go too because as many as four families in Ely that I know and that knew about my conservation efforts, now have ponds in their back gardens, all of which have frogs and newts breeding in them.



Pond in my friend Jane's garden


If I could achieve this with just an old bathtub, think what can be done with a proper pond! You can buy ready-made pools from garden centres or create a pond using waterproof sheeting to line it.  The bigger the pond you make the better it is for attracting and supporting amphibian species.  


Great Crested Newt
In the UK, the very rare and endangered Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) only uses very big ponds or lakes, and the Common Toad (Bufo bufo) also likes larger sources of freshwater to breed in.

Having a pond in your back garden is likely to attract pretty Dragonfly species as well. The larvae or nymphs of these insects are predators and will eat tadpoles and baby newts but no need to worry about that. There will probably be too many this is nature’s way of keeping the balance.

A pond becomes a place that will provide a focal point in your garden and is a real help in the conservation of amphibians and other aquatic and semi-aquatic wildlife. Why not get a good book on Backyard Wildlife and find out what else you can do to create you very own nature reserve?

Find out how to build a frog pond here at the Save the Frogs website


Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.
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