We might expect that frogs at Center Parcs make their home in our many lakes, streams and ponds. But these little amphibians spend most of their adult life in sheltered spots around the forest. If your primary school science lessons were a little while ago, here’s a quick reminder of the lifecycle of a frog…
1. Born as frogspawn (or toadspawn) in water
2. Metamorphose into tadpoles and learn to swim
3. Metamorphose again into tiny frogs
4. As tiny frogs, they leave their watery home and migrate to dry (but damp) land
5. Once old enough to breed, they head back to the water to mate and lay their own frogspawn
This means lots of frog activity on our Villages, and summer is the time when tiny frogs make their first big journey out of the water. At Woburn Forest, this Great Frog Migration has just taken place, meaning hundreds of little frogs suddenly – almost overnight – appeared around the Village as they searched for their new home. Ranger Lucie Vicentijevic was on hand with a box to make sure they all made the journey safely.
Lucie, you’ve just spent the day rescuing tiny frogs… This is an annual occurrence?
It happens every year, but we never really know when as it’s all down to what the weather was like over winter. A mild winter will mean babies are born early, while a cold snap may hold the adults off from breeding. This affects when the babies are born and therefore when they’re old enough to migrate. So we just wait and see when they appear.
Why do they all move at the same time?
The young all grow up together in the same ponds, and moving as a group offers them some safety from predators. How exactly they all decided to go is a bit of a mystery, but it’s likely that a cool, damp night is the perfect opportunity. It’s amazing to think their natural instinct drives them all at the same time.
What part do you and your team play?
On their way from the ponds to their new home in the woodland, the tiny frogs get into places where they can become trapped. So Ranger James and I spent the day going all around the Village, rescuing baby frogs and releasing them into the wet woodland.
And what’s next for the froglets?
Now they’ll stay in the damp undergrowth until they’ve matured and are ready to breed, at which point they’ll make their way back to the water again.
What should our guests do if they spot any tiny frogs?
My best advice is to leave them alone. They’re so delicate when they’re this small and they will probably find their way to where they ought to be. But if they’re clearly trapped or in immediate danger of being squashed, it’s ok to move them somewhere quieter and safer. Just be very careful when you handle them and wash your hands immediately afterwards.
What do frogs mean for Woburn Forest?
It’s great to see a healthy population of frogs and toads here. Our main lake, Village Square ponds and Nature Pond weren’t here before Center Parcs was built, so this is a new development. Seeing successful breeding and good numbers over successive generations means we’ve created – and are maintaining – a valuable habitat.
You can learn more about migrating frogs and what to do to help frogs and toads in your garden here.