Pond Life

pond with adjacent bog and alpine gardens

What a difference a sunny day makes! It felt so good to get a bit of sunshine yesterday, and even nicer to have a weekend day of warm sunshine. What a huge treat after the cold grey rain of the last few weeks. It’s given me a chance to spend some time pond-gazing, and I found some rather exciting things going on.

nymphs jostling for position

At the deep end of the pond the water is completely covered with vegetation; starwort fills the area and water mint, bog bean and irises push up through it. The starwort provides great cover for all the nymphs and pond critters, although the tadpoles mainly prefer the open water towards the shallow end, and nibbling the remaining blanket weed. Yesterday I realised that there was a lot of movement occurring just under the surface of the starwort, and when I looked closely I saw that there were dozens of dragonfly nymphs there. They’d crawled up to the surface and were clustered in groups. To see so many of them together was really odd; there’s something slightly sinister about them slowly clambering over each other, jostling for postition in a big nymph pile! Several of them were actually pushing themselves out of the water, so I’m guessing that they’re preparing themselves to emerge and undergo metamorphosis. I’m surprised to see them all together like that though; maybe they’re getting in some sunbathing to absorb as much heat and energy from the sun as possible, since they disappeared below the surface again yesterday afternoon once the pond was in shade. They were back in postion again this morning; I counted at least thirty in a small area.

debris-free nymph

Another notable thing was that these nymphs are, I think, those of the broad bodied chaser dragonfly, Libellula depressa. The nymphs characteristically cover themselves with debris, appearing very fuzzy. That’s how they’ve always looked before, but yesterday I realised they all look very shiny and tidy – no debris to be seen. Either the tadpoles have nibbled it all off (they seem to like doing this; clearly they enjoy living very dangerously!) or, more likely, they have had their final moult before they emerge. This would fit with the very clearly defined wing buds you can see on their backs. Either that, or these are a different species and I’ve managed not to notice many dozens of them lurking in the depths! I don’t think so though.

There’s plenty of other insect life in there too. There are lots of miniscule backswimmers now, and far fewer adults. I took a picture of one that had crawled out of the water; it’s odd to see the top of one when all you usually see is its underside as it rows through the water looking for prey.

There are eight or so frogs in the pond at the moment and I love watching them – they’re so comical and full of character. There’s enormous variability in the colouring of the common frog, as some of these pictures show. There’s a beautiful fully grown one with very blonde colouring who is shown here genorously giving a pond snail a piggy back, and then later on an excursion across the lawn. She’s very beautiful. At the other end of the colour spectrum there’s a little dark coloured frog who has no discernable markings at all and none of the golden eye colouring either – it’s hard to believe they’re the same species.

 

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8 thoughts on “Pond Life

  1. I wouldn’t like to be a tadpole, coming face to face with a dragonfly nymph! What a scary world, underneath the serene beauty of your pond! Lovely pictures!

  2. Hi, back again! I had some serious health problems (drug poisoning, thanks to the pharmaceutical industry!) and business concerns. I have to catch up here … Springwatch begins May 28, I saw on the BBC site. I can look to BBC 1 and 2 in Holland. Just seen Planet Earth Live.
    You have made ​​beautiful pictures. I will read the stories. (Monday the first Skyfall trailer / teaser.)

    • CHARLES!! :-) I am really happy to see you because I have missed your comments and wondered how you are getting on. I’m very sorry to hear, though, that you have had health and business problems. I hope that you are fully recovered now?
      Yes I am looking forward to Springwatch. It has been a very wet and cold April/May here in England, after a very warm and dry March, so I’ll be interested to see what effect all this has had on our wildlife.
      It’s good to see you back!

      • Thank you!! No, not yet, the pharmaceutical industry unintentionally caused almost a complete failure of my liver function. I guess I have to look for a second hand, if it still happened. It takes at least another two months before the blood count is restored and many other things. Well, my city (Zwolle) will soon have the most modern hospital in Holland….. It’s an amazing modern hospital and very, very colorful…. http://www.isalabouwt.nl/isalabouwt/Architectuur/Omgeving/Pages/default.aspx

        Underlying vision: During the design the starting point was that watching and stay in a natural environment has a positive influence on the healing process. Therefore, there are several lounges where physical or visual contact is possible with the landscape.

        The weather the past two months is almost identical to yours. It’s the first time that spring is around my new home. It’s incredibly green, the trees, the color seems to come from a can of paint …. and at four o’clock in the morning I sometimes awakened by singing birds. Should they not sleep?

  3. Oh my goodness Charles, what is the drug that caused this? I hope very much that you continue to recover over the coming months and that your full liver function is restored. The hospital looks amazing – as colourful as the tulip fields! I agree very much that seeing nature and beauty can help with the healing process.

    I love your image of the spring colour coming from a can of paint – I was in beech woods last weekend and that’s exactly how it looked! We have blue tits nesting above our bedroom window at the moment and they are giving us very early alarm calls indeed.

  4. Pingback: Here be dragons! « The Foraging Photographer

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