Global warming hits South Warwickshire .... the evidence ... another year when the local frog population assembles in my garden ponds, a full week earlier than the previous year. At this rate, the frogs will be singing Christmas Carols to their frogspawn before we know it!
A really mild (and wet) late winter spell, seems to have encouraged amphibians from near and far that the time to mate is NOW ... and when they're in the mood, they go about their business with an impressive fervour and and an unswerving determination.
The ponds are suddenly full of noise and colour, with the frenetic males grabbing every passing female in a firm embrace, sometimes forming a rolling, tumbling mass of pulsating froggy flesh, as the battle to pass genes onto the next generation boils over.
The challenge with capturing their brief but frenzied activity, is twofold.
1. Whilst certainly preoccupied with the (ahem) 'job in hand', they're not so distracted that they don't spot a large human with a big camera and lens lumbering towards the edge of the pond - prompting a 'dive-dive' alert and quick exit under the water and out of sight.
2. Even when you've solved problem 1. (above), with a commando 20m caterpillar crawl and find your self face down pond side with wet knees, a muddy jumper and a cricked neck ... one sudden move to focus on the action can send everyone diving for cover again and a 20 minute stationary wait for their reappearance whilst prostrate, cold, wet and wondering if you really have completely lost the plot this time ha ha!
So ... this intrepid WILDlife photographer, finds himself in the right place, with some half decent light and all that's required is to point and shoot right??
Taking close up pictures at close quarters calls for some different settings and a tough task to get the DOF (depth of field) right with so many beautiful eyes to get properly in focus.
Nonetheless, I managed a few half decent shots over the couple of days of activity before the frogs disperse again, leaving masses of fresh frogspawn in gelatinous mounds around the margins of the pond on their departure.
Here's to next years visit - whenever they decide to turn up ... we'll take a glimpse of Spring wherever it chooses to appear.
Spring is sprung ... as they say!