Springtime sees amphibians becoming active after their winter hibernation, so here’s a quick guide to the five native species you might find in your garden pond.
Widespread in countryside and city, they congregate in large numbers in the spring to breed in ponds, producing unmistakeable floating blobs of frogspawn. Adults are extremely variable in colour, including shades of green, brown, orange, yellow and red, with dark spots on their legs and bodies. They have smooth moist skin and move in short jumps.
Similar in size and shape to the common frog, but distinguished by drier and bumpier skin, and striking coppery eyes. They are also variable in colour, from grey to reddish or dark brown. Toads prefer deeper ponds and lakes for breeding, and produce a long chain of toadspawn rather than a cluster. They move by walking or hopping rather than jumping, and spend more time on dry land.
Great crested newt
The largest and most spectacular of the three native newts, the great crested newt (GCN) resembles a small dinosaur!It has bumpy skin which is dark brown or black on land, but can vary in colour and appear much paler in the water. Both sexes have a yellow/orange underside with black spots. In the breeding season the males have a white line along their tail and a jagged crest along their back, although this can be hard to see out of water.
The most widespread newt in the UK often occurs in garden ponds. Approximately two thirds the size of the GCN, it is paler in colour (beige to olive brown) and lacks the bumpy skin of its larger relative. Both sexes have a yellow/orange underside with black spots, and breeding males also have a crest on their back, which can lead to confusion with GCN. However the crest of the smooth newt is less jagged than the GCN and runs the entire length of the back and tail.
It’s easy to mistake these for smooth newts as they look so similar. Male palmate newts have distinctive dark webbing on their hind feet and a fine filament at the end of their tail. Both sexes have a yellow-orange underside with spots, but unlike other newt species, the throat is usually a pale pinkish colour and unspotted.
This content was taken from our Kingfisher members magazine. If you would like to join us to receive three copies of Kingfisher magazine each year packed full of interesting wildlife articles see here.
And here are a few cheeky frogs from Nabil Abbas’s (Living Landscape Manager) garden pond enjoying this spring sunshine (May 2020).
(c) Frog – Richard Burkmar
Toad – John Bridges
Smooth and palmate newt – Philip Precey