Shropshire Star

Frogs overrunning gardener's wildlife haven 'being driven from breeding ground by development'

A gardener say he is being swamped by frogs being driven from their breeding ground by housing developments. Bryan Swain's garden has always been a wildlife haven, from special "homes" he created for masonry bees to his wildlife pond.

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Bryan Swain says frogs are overrunning his pond

But Bryan, from St Martins, near Oswestry, says he is concerned that the amount of building in the village is having a detrimental effect on nature.

He points to his pond being completely overrun by frogs and frog spawn this year.

The wildlife enthusiast says he has never seen so many frogs migrating to his pond for the breeding season, and blames it on nearby fields being turned into housing estates.

"I have always had frogs in the pond but there are hundreds coming into the garden this year," he said.

"I found one of my fish dead, a frog clamped around him across the gills, suffocating it."

"The problem is that there will not be enough food in the pond to support either the frogs there now or those that will emerge as tadpoles."

Bryan said that frogs had been known to eat their own tadpoles – but only when food is scarce.

Tadpoles eat algae in the ponds they grow in, then, as they grow, they feed on plants and small insects. If there isn't enough food available they might even eat their fellow tadpoles.

Bryan says he believes the influx of the amphibians in his garden is because building is happening on former wet land in the village.

Frog spawn in Bryan's pond

"There are two developments that are going up in St Martins, one opposite me and one at the old village school," he said.

"The one near me used to be the old claypits and the land is naturally very wet. The frogs would have been there in normal circumstances."

"It does worry me that the more housing we build the less land wildlife has to flourish."

His worry about housing developments comes as residents of Bicton, near Shrewsbury, fear that work on a 340-home Churncote development, south of the village, is damaging the wildlife in ponds in the area.

Residents of Shepherd’s Lane, Bicton, say two of the three ponds on the development have been filled in and that the other has had reeds cut down, disturbing the wildlife.

David Wilson Homes, the developers at Churncote, said there has been no breach of planning consent and that there was an on-site ecologist liaising with the team.

Alex Wagner, Shropshire councillor for Bowbrook, said he feared the work at Bicton set a precedent.

He said: “The North West Road – should it be built – would be metres from this site. This could set a real precedent for potentially thousands of proposed houses across Shrewsbury for years to come."

Mandie Lee a Bicton parish councillor who lives near the Churncote site said: “Residents in Bicton feel really upset and worried by developments at the site off Shepherd’s Lane. It was never popular around here, but we knew that residents were the underdogs against developers when fighting it and when it passed we were not surprised."