Just a few moments ago I received an email from Pond Conservation, one of the groups that OPAL is working with to develop our Water Survey (which launches in May). The email was a report of their recent study into the reasons why a lot of frogs and fish may have died this winter due to ponds freezing over. This was the hardest winter for 30 years with some ponds staying frozen for several weeks at a time. When they finally thawed, a lot of pond owners found dead amphibians and fish. So Pond Conservation did a bit of research with the pond owners to find out why this might be and how we can prevent it in future. You can read a summary of their report here. It makes very interesting reading, and some methods that people used to think helped, such as making a hole in the ice, turned out not to have any effect. It seems that keeping your pond shallow, without too many fallen leaves and silt at the bottom, and with a good range of underwater plants, mosses and algae seems to be the answer (or at least part of it).
I wonder if this loss of amphibians will have an effect on how many we see this spring in the OPAL Water Survey. The Water Survey pack includes a guide to amphibians as well as aquatic invertebrates, dragonflies and duckweeds. The OPAL Water Centre team have been super busy developing the survey and doing their own pond research across the country. You can read about a typical day in the life of the OPAL water centre team written by Simon.
Well the bad weather doesn't seem to have affected amphibian numbers in the museum's wildlife garden pond too badly - John just went out to take some photos for a Nature Live talk he is giving at the weekend and he said he couldn't believe how many there were - especially toads. So here's a piccie of some frogs in the wildife garden pond showing that Spring has finally sprung!