Common frogs and frog spawn in a pond - Shutterstock

Frog and toad spotting in the Forest

15 January 2024
Heart of England Forest

With spring approaching, the Heart of England Forest’s population of frogs and toads are at their most visible. There are signs that amphibians have started to embrace breeding season and we need you to help us by recording your spawn findings.

Each year the Freshwater Habitats Trust runs a spawn sighting survey. Due to milder winters we have already started collecting data for them.

Now is a great time to spot spawn in our ponds and wetlands. You are also likely to spot amphibians out and about on walks in our woodlands, but be vigilant as they are often well camouflaged and will keep very still unless disturbed.

By completing our online form, you are helping us to understand more about where frogs and toads are breeding in the Forest, which waterbodies are the best for each species and where they may need some help. All data will be gathered and sent on to the Freshwater Habitats Trust as part of the PondNet Spawn Survey 2024, therefore also helping to monitor how are amphibians are doing at a national scale.

A toad on the ground in the Arboretum

How to spot the difference

There is a good chance of seeing a common frog and occasionally even a common toad in the back garden, but it is around ponds and pools where they tend to cluster. Walkers on the Heart of England Forest’s Haydon Way Wood or Founder's Walk trails will encounter ponds, so at this time of year it is a good opportunity to look for both adults of these species and their spawn.

Take a look below at our top tips to identifying frogs and toads:

Common frog in the grass
Common frog
Frogs have smooth, moist skin and long, stripy legs, and tend to keep to damp habitats. They make long jumps when unsettled, and their green or brown colouring can often feature random black blotches.

Toads preforming amplexus at Abbots Lench
Common toad
Common toads have a much broader torso, shorter legs, and prefer to crawl rather than jump. They have rough, warty skin, golden eyes, and two distinctive lumps behind their eyes. The colouring of the common toad is mottled green and brown.

By April, both frog and toad spawn may have hatched into tadpoles. Toad tadpoles remain jet-black and frog tadpoles are mottled greenish-grey with gold speckles. But how do you know whether it is frog spawn or toad spawn you have spotted? Take a look at the difference below:

Frog spawn in the shallows of a pond in the Forest
Frog spawn
Frog spawn is laid in big clumps of jelly. It can be found all over the Forest, even in little ruts with standing water in woodlands.

Toad spawn in the shallows of a pond
Toad spawn
Toads are particular about where they breed, often returning to the same pond. Their spawn is often laid through aquatic vegetation in a long string of eggs, like a pearl necklace.

In general, spawn is easier to spot than frogs and toads, as they are very good at staying out of sight, but who knows – you might just be lucky enough to spot one when you visit the Forest! So plan your visit today and get recording!

Submitting your findings

If you spot either frog spawn or toad spawn (or even a fully-grown adult frog or toad) when you visit the Heart of England Forest, let us know by filling in our 2024 frog and toad spawn survey form at the bottom of this page.

If you are walking out and about and would rather jot your findings down on paper first, then download and print off the form below.

Freshwater Habitats Trust Frog and Toad Spawn survey
Amphibian Identification (ARG UK Amphibian ID Guide)
Your survey findings will be fed into the Freshwater Habitat Trust's WaterNet database where your data will be freely available for Government bodies, NGOs and local people to download to feed into local wildlife plans and other surveys. Freshwater Habitat Trust will also pass all surveys and data records on to Record Pool, the national database on reptiles and amphibians in the UK. By completing the survey you understand and agree that this information will be shared with the Freshwater Habitat Trust for national records - for more information on how they will use this data please visit their website here.

By completing the survey on our website directly you will also agree to your information being kept on record in our secured system. You can find The Heart of England Forest privacy policy here.

Frog and toad spawn sightings in the Heart of England Forest

Name of person who made the observation
example: expectant.unveils.noting / Studley Thorns pond
Note: It’s not possible to count strings of toad spawn.
(smooth, palmate, great crested newts)