Amphibian phenology (what time of year they breed) can be very interesting, and the trend towards breeding earlier in the year is an indicator of a changing climate. For example, common frogs usually breed earliest, spawning in South-West England, South Wales and Southern Ireland sometimes as early as January.  The dates show a trend towards getting earlier. Then breeding spreads north and east as spring temperatures gradually move across our islands. Common toads ‘normally’ breed at least a few weeks later than frogs, and follow the same pattern. In very cold years, frogs can be held up and breed at the same time as toads - which can result in occasional confusion!

This year has been even more unusual... a long period of warmer weather in January has resulted in early breeding by both species.  Frogspawn was seen by Valentine's Day as far north as Central Scotland, and way inland (e.g. in Shropshire) a few days later.  Breeding can be delayed further inland as the influence of the sea warms areas nearer the coast. But by late February, toads were spawning - and at the very same time - in ponds as far apart as Scotland, Shropshire and the Isle of Wight. This is an extremely unusual event, meaning that most of Great Britain had warmed up to ‘toad-breeding temperature’ all at once, and for some places well over a month earlier than might be expected. Hopefully though, this early breeding will give tadpoles a good chance to grow and develop before some ponds begin to dry in the summer.  Despite the scorching temperatures of 2018 most frogs and toads had a good metamorphosis success rate last year.