Frogs spawning in Bristol ponds & urban locations

The first location was great, as soon as I got there I could see lots of movement on the surface and there were multiple frogs spawning. The action under the water was just as busy, the only downside was it was raining heavily and the water was murky from all the action and heavy rain. I stayed at the first location photographing right until the end of the day. I headed to my second location just on the outskirts of Bristol with an hour or so of light remaining, taking a gamble with my time.

Lone frog waiting on the surface of a Bristol pond, surrounded by spawn.

A group of frogs take a break from all the frantic spawning activity.

My gamble paid off and the activity at the second pond was crazy. The surface was a mass of frogs spawning and croaking. My time was limited as the light was starting to fade. I stayed here until the light had completely disappeared and then headed home to dry my camera gear out and recharge my photography equipment batteries for the following day.

Female frog full of eggs waits at the bottom of a Bristol pond for male frogs to start spawning with her.

The next day, I was back at the second location around lunch time and the activity seemed even more chaotic than the day before. Frogs and toads outside of spawning don’t really like their pictures being taken at all, so as soon as you approach them they disappear with a splash underwater. But during spawning they are far busy looking for a mate and are preoccupied following their instinct. You can get really close and get some great portraits. I discovered when taking photos with my underwater camera and GoPro, the cameras would get mobbed by male frogs looking to reproduce and at times would have as many as 8 frogs all fighting to mate with my camera equipment!

Two frogs on the surface of a pond in bristol as the light starts to fade.

After another day of taking photos, I hung around after dark and ventured away from the pond and headed into a nearby woodland with my headlamp, to see if I could spot any more frogs making the journey to the pond. Frogs, Toads and newts mostly make their journeys on warmer, damp evenings after dark when it’s safer for them to move on mass. I was extremely lucky to see a lone frog coming out of the ground and start to make its way to the pond. I have always loved toads and frogs and photographing them if one of my favorite subjects to tackle. It’s not easy and a lot of it has to do with timing. And when it all kicks off you normally only have a matter of days or even hours to capture it. It was a great couple of days and was well worth all the waiting around. It still looks like not all the frogs and most of the toads in Bristol have spawned yet, so when the weather warms up for the second time, I will be heading out on the hunt for more Amphibians to photograph.

4 Tips on photographing frogs during spawning

1. The correct temperature and conditions are the most Important, without these being perfect there will be no spawning activity. Normally from 6 degrees upwards frogs and toads will make they way to ponds and lakes to spawn, normally after dark. Both frogs and toads are not fans of the wind, so this will put them off moving on mass or at all.

Frog making the journey from a Bristol allotment to the nearest pond.

2. The correct equipment is important, if the frogs are in the middle of a big pond you will need a telephoto lens to gets decent pictures. I used my GoPro on a selfy sick, this enabled me to push the camera out further into the pond and get photos above and below the water (wide angle). I used it remotely with my phone to control it.I used my telephone lens to isolate some subjects and blur the background.

3. Slow movement, even when frogs and toads are preoccupied with spawning. They can be scared off very easy, normally with the dive to the bottom of the pond. So approach with stealth and slowness this will keep them around longer enabling you to obtain the picture your after. I found if I sat very still the frogs which were initially scared off would slowly come back to the surface.

4. Find the right location. The right location is key, knowing where frogs and toads have spawned in the past, is paramount. Find a location you can easily take photos from multiple angles. Its no good finding somewhere with lots of activity, but getting pictures is impossible because the frame is cluttered with sticks and leaves etc.

This is shows perfect spawning conditions on Saturday & Sunday, its wet/damp and the temperate is warming up during the day and is warm at night.

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