Black jelly like spheres with some pink fleshlike matter mixed in. Found about 2metres above the ground in a tree.
No interactions present.
I dont know how they got up there ktmartin but they appear to be frog ova. It looks like theyve been flung there, probably by human rather than animal activity?
Much to big for Myxo and sorry to disagree with Cathal for me its very strong evidence of predation by birds, I suspect crow family.
All given ID's are subject to error/ommissions. Please seek independent verification before acting on ANY advice given. BE SAFE =)
Very possibly Mark, do you think a corvid might have done that by trying to tear a frog into edible sized pieces?
Or the frog innards are discarded on mass from higher up the tree and by chance landed here. I just don't see anybody going to the trouble of gutting a frog and then retrieving the eggs to throw on a tree.
I wasnt suggesting that Mark, I thought it more likely that someone found the discarded ova on the ground and maybe flung them up there after wondering what on earth they were. Just a thought. Its the way they are so well splatted on the trunk has a human look to it but Im only guessing.
Cathal, the ova are definitely 'splatted' to the trunk, as you say. However, I downloaded and rotated the photo and it looks likely that this is a horizontal trunk or branch, so they may well have fallen from above.
You are absolutely right, theyve come down from above as suggested by Mark. Pardon me, maybe not so likely to have been flung there as I suggested by a person.
Maybe suggesting a crow, shows my lack of experience with birds(LOL no pun intended)and a raptor is more likely.
How interesting that this http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/316939
was posted the same day.
I suspect it is the same thing. Being on a tree is a bitty inexplicable though.
I found this on the topmost strut of a High Shooting Stool in Strlingshire a few years ago. Heron predate frogs and heron frequent trees.
Old comment edited - derek
There has been a lot of these observations on iSpot recently which are unambiguously attributed to common frog. I am slightly reluctant to agree these identifications because although it is likely that they are, we can't be sure.
What about common toads? Although their skin provides some resistance to predation, there are still many thing which will eat them - including herons. As the embryos are stored in the ovaries before laying, and the jelly in a completely separate place, I don't think you can be sure from the shape of the mass that it isn't toad.
Also, it seems to be the general assumption that predators would regurgitate eggs after swallowing the frog. Whilst this may be true in some cases, where ova are found, I would think this is unlikely. The jelly is distasteful, but the eggs themselves are very nutritious and as they are separate from the jelly before laying, a predator would be unlikely to regurgitate them. I suggest a more likely explanation is that when the frog(or toad) is caught it expels the eggs/jelly as an anti-predatory behaviour. Common toads will often expel water when you handle them and many reptiles void the contents of their cloaca when picked up. I would think that in some cases if distracts the predator. I have not seen "star-jelly" that often, but when I have, this seems to fit the evidence. E.g. the eggs and jelly were found at the side of the pond where the frog would have been captured, whilst the skin and bones of the frog were found on a fencepost some metres away where the (assumed to be avian) predator had eaten the frog.
When just the jelly is found it is more likely to be a result of predators regurgitating the jelly only, but in these cases can we be sure this is frog jelly and not some other cause (Nostoc, Exidia nucleata, common toad, Pelophylax frogs, bits of discarded nappies...)?
With reference to the above, here are some examples of recent similar observations.
This one certainly looks amphibian eggs. It has been ID'ed as a frog but I don't think it's possible to say for certain and I would think a common toad is more likely.
This one has mostly jelly and a few ova so is likely to be an amphibian. It is also in Northern Ireland where toads aren't found so will be a frog.
These two are just jelly with no ova so in my opinion is difficult to unambiguously attribute to an amphibian. They were also taken in November (5 months before the usual first breeding time in the area where the second observation was made) which is a long time before frogs breed and would have produced this much jelly. I would think a fungus or cyanobacteria couldn't be ruled out in these cases.
I think exidia can be ruled out for those last two. Heathland and Conifer are not suitable habitats being decomposers of hardwoods.
Hi Masked Marvel,
A lot of points raised there, just on one of them- I hadnt seen it suggested by anyone during the long running star jelly saga that either the ova or the jelly was being ingested and then regurgitated by the predator. Maybe I have missed that comment but I wasnt aware that it was being generally accepted that this was the case and having seen dozens of examples of star jelly over the years, some with ova and some without and some with entrails also, I havent ever had any reason to believe what I was seing had been regurgitated. It only ever presents as something which has been purposefully avoided by the predator -even the nutritious bits at times, as if the predator didnt want it inside its stomach.
How does "this animal" manage such selective regurgitation? No this is discarded prior to consumption IMO.
I do think these discussions are inspiring and a vital part of iSpot.
These 2 ones where there is just jelly and both from November, one of them shows what looks quite like seperated up frog jelly but there is something odd about the amount of light within it- its the only example of the 'star jelly' which Ive seen emanating light. Was a flash used or is this the stuff from a nappy? It just has a synthetic appearance but that could be completely baseless, it might be 100% natural. Just want to point out the bright aspect to it and how this differs from other examples, maybe its camera flash?
The other one is for all the world like frog jelly. I know it was November but having seen lots of blobs of star jelly on saturday, ie definite frog jelly, this big blob is identical. November is odd but maybe the stuff is being produced within the female frog well in advance. It looks right.
I'm removing my frog agreement becasue as Masked Marvel says I cant tell they arent toad eggs.
Yes, Masked Marvel has done a thought-provoking summary.
Technically then Cathal - should we all remove our agreements on the basis that we cannot be certain that is even a frog OR a toad, neither perhaps?
Do we know if the egg mass in the ovaries of the Toad and the Frog is the same arrangement/consistency?
Has anyone diseceted both and able to say?
Wading through Google's [(About 9,370,000 results (0.31 seconds)] is proving onerous!!
and ( a cane toad)
Sorry for the late reply. I just felt I should remove one or two agreements I had made because as Masked Marvel pointed out it couldnt be said with certainty that the animal the ova /jelly came from wasnt a toad. I wouldnt suggest to anyone they should remove an agreement- I have enough bother deciding on my own agreements!!
I only know for certain that the examples I see on this side of the water are definitely frog and that some of those being shared from Britain are very similar looking. In some of them they are so similar I think I feel ok about agreeing frog or maybe even posting the ID. There are certainly frog cases among them but as yet no confirmed toad cases in any of these observations. One of those is what the whole story is missing. For what its worth I believe frog is the most common explanation but what do I know about toads and toad predation?- ZERO.
Oh well, I'm still wi' the likely frog on the grounds that it IS more likely.
I don't think my and one or two others' 'protest' votes will sway the final verdict (there won't be one of course - verdict that is).
But it won't be long afore someone does some DNA work of such sightings.
I think, perhaps, we have 'done' this subject for a while, so let's hope that someone will post Frogspawn in its proper place - in fact http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/317580?nav=users_observations
"It looks like theyve been flung there, probably by human..." Cathal.
The more I look at the picture, the stronger I agree.
"....may well have fallen from above.." Philip (Eskling)
I have just rotated the picture and it really looks possible.
Where is Katy (ktmartin) when you need her?
Call in the CSIs?
The debate continues here-
Those of you ticking Amphibians may wish to consider some evidence..
This is copied from http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/317087
I don't think this will help but I'm going to try -
"Common toads secrete an irritant from their skin that prevents most predators from wanting to eat them". http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Common_Toad
"As a defence mechanism the common toad can excrete toxins through its gladular skin if attacked by a predator" - The Surrey amphibian and reptile group (Web)
"The skin of one toad contains enough toxin to cause serious symptoms or even death in animals and man" - http://www.textfiles.com/drugs/toadtoxins.drg
It is possible that I have breached copyright by reproducing this below but it is taken from the Internet
It is a tiny passage from Predation of Breeding Western Toads by Deanna H Olson
Copeia © 1989 American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH)
"Predation by ravens (Corvus corax) on western toads (Bufo boreas) was observed at three of 15 toad explosive breeding aggregations. At one aggregation, over 20% of the toad annual breeding population was killed and found eviscerated near the communal breeding site. Predation was observed when toads were breeding in shallow water, 5-25 cm deep, but not when toads remained in deeper water."
So a few points for the Know-Team to consider.
I have always thought that toads were pretty poisonous to predators (Ravens are pretty clever though - like meerkats vs scorpions)
(the debate progresses here, of course)
I have a hunch that this had an effect. As dejayM says, toads can secrete a noxious substance from their skin. This also applies to tadpoles and explains the differences in the ponds frogs and toads select for breeding. Toad tadpoles taste bad so do well in large ponds which contain fish as the fish don't eat them. Frogs on the other hand usually select small, often ephemeral, pond where fish can't survive, as their tadpoles don't have this chemical protection. It's not uncommon to see newts eating frog eggs and leaving the jelly behind.
I would assume that toad eggs which have a lot less protective jelly than frogs also taste bad whilst frog eggs are rather more tasty and have more jelly. Therefore it seems likely (although I have no actual evidence, just a hypothesis....) that when just jelly is found it is more likely to be found it is more likely to be frogs and where jelly and eggs are found its more likely to be toads. Although I am sure there are exceptions both ways.
However, as I mentioned previously, I think in most cases, the frog or toad expels the eggs itself as an anti-predation response. So I guess this wouldn't apply a lot of the time...
Is there any evidence for the frog or toad expelling the eggs and or jelly as an anti-predatory response?
Sorry, if there isnt, then that may appear like a loaded/unfair question to ask but as I said before, in the cases Ive encountered it has just appeared like a frog has been attacked and eaten but the predator has purposefully disregarded the jelly, sometimes the eggs and sometimes the oviduct also. It would be something else for the behaviour which leads to the occurances of star jelly to be filmed and explained, maybe someday- it just shows even here at home there are still natural occurances we havent had the privelage of witnessing yet.
Ive edited my previous long-winded post because it was just that- too long-winded.
I can't find any documented cases, so no strong evidence. But it seems logical based on the behaviour of many amphibians when attacked. I have not come across "star jelly" that often but I found some recently where the jelly and a few ova were next to a pond where I imagine the frog would have been captured. I found the rest of the remains of the frog (skin, the head and a few bones) on a fence post about 30m away where the (presumably avian) predator had enjoyed the meal. If the eggs and jelly where avoided by the predator whilst eating the frog I would think that the jelly and the frog remains would be found together.
Of course, they could have been totally different frogs, or the predator could have been disturbed half-way through eating and moved, or there could be another explanation. But the observation got me to thinking. Many of amphibians excrete urine or other noxious substances from their cloaca when attacked. The likelihood of them doing this depends on how "afraid" they are, for example, a gently handled toad will generally not do anything, a roughly handled toad will often expel urine and a toad will secrete poison from its skin if attacked by a dog. Therefore, if the frog or toad is really in fear for its life, it seems a likely that they may try and expel an unpleasant tasting substance (jelly) to put off the predator as a last resort. After all, if the predator is successful, the frog isn't going to need its spawn, but it's certainly better to miss a breeding opportunity than be eaten...
Is the only part the Crows eat.
Crows will preferentially eat the liver if there are lots of toads (hence the well documented "exploding toads" case), but if food is not so plentiful they won't waste other nutritious parts. They will avoid the toxic skin.
I found some stuff like this on the beach at Margate. Never was able to get an identification. Didn't look like the usual empty whelk capsule, 'cos it was dark black and relatively solid in composition. Looked more like 'droppings' than eggs. Thanks for setting me on the right track, it's been lumbering there in the back of my mind for ages. uck indeed!
It would be unlikely to be amphian eggs on the beach. Cuttlefish eggs look very similar and are often washed onto the beach.
yeh, sounds more reasonable. I looked it up and the identification, I later realised, had been suggested by another i-spotter!
Thanks for taking the time to reply though!
Lat/Lng: 57.4731, -4.1726
OS grid ref: NH698446
On a tree at the side of the cycleway