TODAY, in 1736, Robert Marsham invented phenology (not be confused with phrenology), which is the study of the times of recurring natural phenoma. According to The Wrong Kind Of Snow, by Antony Woodward and Robert Penn, he made notes about the arrival of the first swallow of spring, frogs croaking, flowers blooming etc and called them his 'indications of spring'.
Feeling this was an anniversary worth celebrating, I abandoned my plans to tidy the house, and hunted for frogs instead but, sadly, my search was unsuccessful.
Last year a beautiful fat frog established his residence in our garden pond and took advantage of what little sunshine there was by basking on a large grey pebble beneath the buddleia tree. I doubt he turned into a prince (handsome or otherwise) so, hopefully, he has survived the winter and is still there, hidden among the stones and leaves.
So, as I didn't find my frog, I sang the children's rhyme, 'Five little speckled frogs, sat on a speckled log' and re-read The Tale of Jeremy Fisher...
However, on a more serious note, frogs, toads and other amphibians are becoming increasingly rare, though it is not clear whether or not this is the result of global warming (which is being tracked through phenology).
You can can find advice on how to attract frogs and toads to your garden, and how to protect them, at firstname.lastname@example.org (that's where the picture came from), or at http://www.froglife.org/