8.00 a.m.: A sparrowhawk flies over the rooftops followed by a loose flock of smaller birds, which appear to be mobbing it. The sparrowhawk swoops down on one of them, but misses out on its breakfast.
On the sunflower heart feeders, a pair of bullfinches are joined by a siskin.
8.45 a.m.: A buzzard circles over farmland beyond the houses. Buzzards are such regulars now but because I first got familiar with them in the Lake District and on Speyside, at a time when they were far less common than they are today, they still conjure up a feeling of wild places for me. It’s great to be able to sit on the sofa with a mug of tea after breakfast and see one soaring in the distance.
We had a single clump of frogspawn in the pond yesterday; today there are thirteen.
1.40 p.m., sunny, 51ºF, 12ºC; I counted twenty-seven clumps of frogspawn yesterday and assumed that was it, the party was over, but today the frogs are back in action.
I sneak up on them with an iPad and attempt to record the sound of them croaking and to film them. I find that the iPad is a bit cumbersome to hold steadily so, without making any sudden movements, I retrace my steps to collect camera, tripod and sketchbook.
Hope to upload the movie later.
A pair of siskins feed on the sunflower hearts, just a few yards from me as I sit sketching the frogs.
I looked out the other day and there were at least twelve frogs in the pond. Today I counted nine clumps of frogspawn. Usually the spawn is laid at the shallow, sunnier end of the pond. This year it’s all at the overgrown, deeper end, partially shaded by the shed.
Since I wrote this, my neighbour Jack across the road has offered me a bucket of spawn which he always clears from his tiny pond. I don’t really need any more but I’d rather take it because otherwise he’d put it in the stream, which is fast flowing so it would just get flushed away into the river. I’m trying to work out if I can fit in a mini-pond or two into the odd corner of my garden as I know ponds have been filled in in adjacent gardens and the frog population will soon start struggling.
On a mossy patch of back lawn near the pond there’s a single hedgehog dropping and, a foot or so from that, a clayey fox scat with the typical pointed end.
IT MIGHT BE about a month late thanks to the cold, sometimes snowy weather but at last there’s a clump of frogspawn in the pond with at least 14 frogs, most of them gathered around the clump which is on the sunnier, shallower side of the pond.