At the moment, this is still a common animal

Here is a common British animal.

It’s a common frog – Rana temporaria.

But sometimes people are inclined to believe it’s not common.

A good example of this is here – reporting the launch of an important study about animals and plants that have become extinct in England, a throwaway remark reported by the Guardian – that common frogs are no longer common  – also slipped into circulation (the exact quote given to the Guardian was ‘….some once prolific species are under threat, including the common toad, common frog, common skate and the corncrake. “They are not common any more,” said……’ – well, I’ll draw a veil over who said it).

Of course one small slip isn’t important – but then I noticed it was repeated here today by a commentator who is a little more widely read – George Monbiot.

Monbiot got it from an impeccable source: his own newspaper – the article this little remark originally slipped into was otherwise very good (and it was hardly the fault of the journalist – she was quoting….well….I drew a veil over that).

So for the common frog the facts are:

– from 2007 to 2009 surveyors taking part in the National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme saw frogs in just over half of the ponds in the countryside.

– in 2009 Pond Conservation’s surveys of garden ponds suggested that Common Frogs are seen in practically all garden ponds and breed in around two-thirds of them.

There probably are fewer frogs than in the past but, at least for the time being, the Common Frog is still a common animal – there are probably millions of them. But a few more people now believe something that is at variance with the facts – even though this creature is probably hopping around in their gardens at this very minute.

FOOTNOTE

Of course we can’t afford to be complacent, even about about common animals: many creatures once common – the common eel, the red squirrel, the native white-clawed crayfish, even house sparrows are declining or have all but disappeared. It’s entirely possible our still-common frog could go the same way.

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