The Garden Pond Survey - 2009 Print

sea of frogspawn - Sean Hough

Five great reasons to survey your local pond:-

1) Ponds are very diverse and interesting habitats.  Look closely and you will find that most ponds support loads of weird and wonderful insects – and also AMPHIBIANS!

2) Five species of native amphibian typically occur in garden ponds.  These all need ponds in which to breed but at other times of the year they leave the water and wander around on land, eating slugs and other garden pests as part of their diet.

3) There are fears that all amphibians are declining in the UK, and with fewer ponds in the countryside than there used to be, garden ponds are becoming more important.

4) Collecting records of amphibians (and reptiles) helps to guide future conservation efforts, so by taking part you provide a valuable contribution!

5) ARGSL will also submit the results to the National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) Garden Survey, which will help assess the national importance of garden ponds as amphibian breeding sites.

Common Toad - Lorna B

When is the best time of year to survey?

The best time to survey is when amphibians are breeding because this is the only time that the adults gather together in one area and become easier to count.

Counting the young does not give us a good estimate of population success because most young amphibians become lunch for other animals or are unable to survive their first winter.

• Common Frogs begin to breed first, when the night air temperature rises to 6oC – probably around late February /early to mid March.

• Common Toads follow closely after, normally around late March / early April when the night temperature rises to 10oC.

• The newts will also be gathering in the ponds in spring, but mid April to mid May is when newts usually reach their maximum numbers and lay most of their eggs.

What amphibians might you find?


There are 7 native species of amphibian in the UK , but there are only 5 of these that you might find in garden ponds in North West England.

1. Common frog
2. Common toad  
3. Palmate newt
4. Smooth newts
5. Great crested newt

How to survey……in 10 easy steps


1)  Note that the best way to survey a pond is by shining a torch into it at night.  Amphibians are more active in the dark so you are likely to see more, plus there is no sun reflecting on the water’s surface.  (but if you cannot survey at night you can still count animals and spawn by daylight).

2)  Beforehand, take a walk around your pond in daylight and check for trip hazards or areas which may be slippy.  Also estimate the length and breadth of your pond.  You can do this by measuring your stride length and then counting the number of strides it takes to walk the length and the breadth of your pond edge.

3) Dress appropriately – keep warm and dry, and wear suitable footwear.

4)  Keep an eye on the pond for amphibians gathering and when you think they have started to breed choose a night or day when you can go and watch and count.

5) Choose mild weather for your surveys.  Amphibians will be less active during cold, windy conditions, and mild weather is better for you too!

6) If the pond is in a nearby park or nature reserve take a friend, especially if you are surveying at night; this will make it safer but also more fun.  It is a good idea to let someone know where you are going too.

7) Go to the pond after dusk and sine a torch on the pond surface. Slowly walk around the pond counting adults and noting the species as you go.  (Alternatively, if surveying in the day, go quietly and slowly walk around the pond counting adults.  Also estimate the number of spawn clumps or strings if you can)

8) If you can’t walk all around the pond (e.g. there’s a hedge in the way) or if you can’t see clearly into it (e.g. there is a lot of weed) then please mark this down on your survey sheet – it is important that ARGSL know this

9) Repeat your survey at least three times between February and May if you can . This gives you the best possible chance of seeing all the speices.

10) Collect your results and either write them on a printed survey form icon ARGSL Recording Form
and send to: ARGSL, 106 Thicketford Road, Tonge Moor, Bolton, BL2 2LU or submit the results using our
Online recording form >>