The Frog and Pond Diary

May - 2001

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May 3 - I was doing some grass cutting around the pond today, so I took time to look at how the newt eggs are developing.

I found some that showed very little growth yet. Others were at various stages, including this one in which the external gills can be seen. The case around it is about 4mm long.

The sunshine brought quite a few frogs up onto the banks of the ponds to do some sunbathing. I noticed a number of smaller, immature frogs around the ponds last night, although they were not evident today.


7 May - A little bit of pond dipping came up with this newly emerged newt. About 7mm long, it is hardly noticable amongst the vegetation. While it stays still for prolonged periods it is capable of short bursts of frantic swimming.



Scooping out small amounts of water from the small pond revealed a good population of Cyclops, which is a tiny freshwater crustacean. The pictures show a female with her egg sacs - these are what catches your eye first. As their name suggests cyclops has a single, well developed eye which you can see as a red spot between a pair of antennules. They often swim about slowly until you try to 'catch' them with a dropper pipette. Then they accelerate rapidly and move in a very jerky way.

8 May - I spent a short time clearing some weed off the surface of the small pond. When I pulled out a lump of weed a male newt in full breeding state came with it. A closer inspection of the weed revealed a lot of newt eggs many of them still early in their development. I have not seen this many in that pond before.

I also spotted a number of these tiny stiped larvae(?). They wriggle about and have feathery looking front appendages (immediately behind the head) with which they hold on to things. I have not got a clue what they are so any suggestions would be gratefully received.

9 May - Looking in the ponds after dark last night revealed a great deal of frog and newt activity. It looked as though some of the newts were searching for suitable vegetation to lay more eggs.

This afternoon I was cutting some grass at the side of the big pond. A clump of the grass hung in the water and when I removed this I found dozens of newt eggs. The pictures show a single egg laid exposed on a living grass leaf. The triple decker sandwich on the right shows what is possible when a newt chooses a dead leaf that has lost its rigidity.

I am amazed at how successful the newts are being this year. On the other hand, of course I have to remember that the toads have failed to appear so far, with the exception of the one that found itself among over friendly frogs!

15 May - I am neglecting this part of my diary at the moment and I must put that right. Today I have made a 'thin' aquarium to enable me to take some 'under-water' pictures of some of the smaller pond life. This will be ready for use in a couple of days.

In the meantime the plant life is thriving and so are the tadpoles. The only young newts that I have seen so far look like the one already pictured.

The frogs are everywhere. Where ever you look in the pond there is a good chance that a pair of eyes is watching you, often more discreetly that this one. I am finding more and more smaller frogs about. Some of these are no doubt from last year's brood.



25 May - Had time to do a short bit of pond dipping this afternoon. Just a couple of images, first of a small beetle that I come across quite often in the big pond. It carries a bubble of air on its underside and crawls about on the vegetation. If it goes down a stem it can return to the surface by simply letting go - it just bobs back up.



I am still finding newt eggs in the pond and this afternoons dipping came up with several young newts.

They look very fishlike but have feathery external gills. I have not come across any with legs as yet.


This little mollusc (right) is about 6 mm high. I think it is a Bithynia leachii, but I need to do a bit more checking.





28 May - This morning was cloudy and cool but the garden was brightened up by the opening of the first of the flag irises in the ponds. There are a lot more flower buds waiting their turn so we should have a good display this year.

Had an enjoyable break lunchtime today watching the frogs and feeding them with mealworms. It was quite amusing to watch their responses. If the mealworm wriggled or just moved quickly it was gobbled up quickly. If the mealworm kept still or moved very slowly the frog would watch it as it slowly disappeared into the undergrowth.


One pleasant surprise today was the appearance of this toad, a rare sight in the pond this year so far.

30 May -
Just one image for today, of one of the groups of frogs that have their favourite spots around the banks of the ponds. Every sunny day these groups appear and seem to keep the spots occupied for much of the day, with occasional 'shift changes'. In the past I have seen as many as 14 frogs in one group with them piled on top of each other!


There was a brief visit by a Large Red damselfly (?) but in a strong breeze it did not stay long enough for me to get a photograph.

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