Saturday, July 05, 2008

Early Release Scheme

It's not all Covenanters and Ulster-Scots in our house!

Back in March I took our two boys to a secret location in the heart of County Antrim to gather as much frog spawn as we could. (pic below from Saturday 8th March)

For some reason, in my lifetime, the frog population of the Ards Peninsula has diminished massively. But as you might expect, once the excitement of gathering the spawn was over, the following 4 weeks of peering at a mass of jelly with wee black dots in it to see if any had hatched was pretty boring stuff, so the boys lost interest and left the whole project to me.

Earlier this week, we released our first 10 "froglets" into the wild, in a damp corner of a field on the family farm at Ballyfrench, close to a well that's been there for at least 100 years, so they should stay well hydrated (never mind the torrential rain we've had this week). Here's a picture of them in the jampot we transferred them in, with a 50p to give you an idea of size. They're so small they could perch on your fingertip. Already they can leap pretty big distances - when we took the lid off the jampot they were scrambling over yin anither tae get oot, doing big leaps from the rim of the pot into the damp grass.

Just this afternoon we released another 10. In total, we still have another 30 adult tadpoles swimming about, so by the time the rest are released we'll be repopulating Ballyfrench with a new frog colony of 50. It's like the frog version of the Hamilton & Montgomery Settlement of 1606!

Hopefully they'll thrive, survive the winter, and breed next spring.