It's official, frogs are on the move in Oxfordshire. They are making their way to ponds for breeding. One surprised us a couple of nights ago – we'd been in and out of the door a few times and noticed something on the floor in the hallway. Had a leaf blown in? No, there was a frog on the hall carpet.
We get a lot of wildlife coming into this house; I've found worms in the bathroom, a caterpillar in the bath and woodlice annually signal the coming autumn by congregating indoors. We later find their desiccated bodies in little piles behind bookcases where a spider has made a meal of them. A few times, birds have been in; blackbirds a couple of times and once the robin surprised us by coming in through a window and perching on my computer monitor. There's never been a frog in here, though.
Our garden pond is very small, like a baby bath, but it attracts a lot of wildlife. Birds and small mammals come to drink or bathe and it is used by frogs, toads and newts for breeding in spring. Later in the year, the frogs just seem to enjoy hanging around in the water. As spring is fast approaching, the frog in the hallway was very likely attempting to make its way to the pond, so we manoeuvred it into a glass measuring jug and put it in the garden. I'll check regularly and see if any spawn appears.
A culinary conundrum
Elsewhere, the coming spring is being signalled all around. The fieldfares have mostly left their winter home in the woods and have flown back to Scandinavia. The blackbirds and robin are asking for more food, far more than they demand in winter. We don't understand why this is, but have noticed for several years that the birds ask for less food in colder weather and more at other times. I'm one of those people who count things – biscuits, slices of bread, ladles of stew – and I count the number of mealworms the birds eat. During the coldest days of the recent cold snap we had, the robin took a maximum of four mealworms, but now that the temperature has increased he's eating an average of nine. I wonder why this is.
Up at the apiary where the bees are now living, regular checks on the hives show they are out on sunny days. I hope they are finding snowdrdops, crocuses, winter aconites and the early blossom of cherry plum trees, as all these are flowering in the area. For now, there is that tantalising wait as spring moves forwards, seemingly at one millimetre a day. Soon we'll wake up to its full glory.