Tag Archives: nature of Southern Spain

Lovely weather for frogs – and ducks!

Another week of unsettled weather brought yet more rain and generally stormy weather that has refilled the pool enough to delight the Tree Frogs.

The presence of the water brought me some very exotic visitors on Wednesday morning: glancing through a window as I walked past I made out a large shape on the edge of the pool. My first thought was Cattle Egret, as we do see them in the garden very occasionally, and there are a lot of frogs here at the moment. I ran to grab the camera and peering carefully around the edge of the voile curtain realised there were two ducks there. Sited beneath a major Europe-Africa migration route we do get sightings and the occasional close encounter with some amazing birds, especially when bad weather brings them down, but never before ducks in the garden. I daren’t open the window for fear of alarming them, but had to get some images, whatever the quality, so I focussed through the glass. I was very surprised to see what I was fairly sure were a pair of Mandarin ducks – but where they may have come from I can’t imagine. They are usually kept on lakes and such as ornamentals; in the UK there are escapees living and breeding in the wild in various places, but till now I’ve not seen any since living in Spain.

I saw the male duck first, he was looking down into the pool – the female was in the water

The female appeared, popping out from the water. Much less colourful than her mate but still beautifully made

A slightly better view of the male as he moved away from the pool- what a beautiful bird

I took the photograph below at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve at Llanelli, South-West Wales several years ago and have included it to properly show the gorgeous colours, patterns and textures of the Mandarin duck’s plumage – so much detail on a single creature.

Mandarin duck at Llanelli WWT- a much better view


The nightly choir gatherings have been reinstated and our original ten or so seem to have invited along all their friends and relatives too – the noise levels have hit an all-time high. A concern of ours had been that the neighbours may start complaining about the racket, but a walk down the road one evening reassured us that they too have their own collections of discordant serenaders.

As a background the massed croaking is just a very loud noise, but if you take a moment, stop thinking about it as simply noise and listen properly, you can pick up differences in the pitch and ‘notes’ of the croaking individuals; one or two are distinctive enough to recognise quite easily.

On Saturday night, when it sounded as though there must be at least fifty frogs croaking, we went out in the dark with a torch to see if we could see any. As soon as they see light, they go quiet, but peering down into the pool with a small and not very bright torch beam, we found quite a few, some demonstrating what all the noise has been about and in the process of mating.

A bright green female and a smaller, darker male

The light from the torch and camera flash did disturb them, but although they moved a little , this pair stayed together.

Very close to the mating pair there was another female

Very close by the couple was another female; perhaps he is one of the alpha males.

On the other side of the pool was another pair, both light bright green

There has undoubtedly been an increase in the local population of these delightful little frogs over the last couple of years, perhaps as a result of the heavy winter rainfalls. If this lot are as successful this year, I’d rather no think about the noise levels next spring.