Sunday provided just the weather conditions I had been waiting for to make my annual pilgrimage to Craik Forest to try and see the amazing spectacle of the collective mating display of the area’s common frogs.
Dry, sunny and warm is just what they need to stimulate their mating urges, so things looked hopeful as I set out. Last year I mistimed it and missed them completely, so I was hoping for more success this year.
As I left the car park at Craik village I stopped to watch a group of crossbills feeding on some pine cones. A good start to the day!
Nearing the favoured pond, I knew my timing was better, as I heard the familiar low purring sound of the male frogs.
At first sight, the pond seemed deserted, but I knew that the occupants had all dived for cover at my approach. I got my padded seat out of my rucksack, made myself comfortable, poured a cup of coffee and waited. A few minutes later, tiny heads broke the surface of the water and soon the chorus of croaks and purrs resumed.
As time went on, more and more began to appear until there were literally hundreds. There was no spawn to be seen, so they must have all been males, calling out to entice the females to come to the pond.
As I sat, frogs passed me on both sides, heading for the pond and whenever they reached the water, they were rushed at by several of the waiting males, who quickly lost interest at the discovery of yet another of the same gender.
The longer I sat the more fascinating it became. I watched as one left the water and climbed the bank is if on a scouting mission to see what was keeping the girls. Two others had obviously had the same idea and had met with more success.
On the middle of the grassy path bordering the pond, a lone female had been ambushed by two of these “scouts” as she made her way to the water. One was one her back and the other was hanging on to her rear, but she still struggled on. The three of them looked just as organised as the Scotland front row against Ireland on Saturday!
It been an entertaining afternoon and was just the prelude to the main event, when the females would arrive in numbers and mating and spawning would take place in earnest. The fun would really start a couple of days later.