The Frog and Pond Diary
April (part 2) - 2002
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21 April - While I have not been keeping up with my pond diary, the pond is continuing to do well. Tonight it is mild outside (12C at 10pm) and all round the pond there are frogs looking out towards the bank. The picture shows two with very different markings.
If you look at their eyes you can see how the right hand frog has its iris open wide for night-time use. The iris of the other frog's eye has closed down because I was shining a torch in its direction.
The newts are very active tonight and I think a couple were egg laying, although it wasn't possible to get a photograph this time.
22 April - In contrast to the night, when the frogs all seem to point their noses towards the bank, this morning many of them are gathered in groups like this one (at lunchtime), apparently taking in the sunshine.
The groups contain several generations, all sharing the same space.
24 April - Last night I spent some time watching one bit of the pond in the hope of seeing a newt in the act of egg laying. There were no photographic opportunities, but it was, nevertheless a fascinating half hour. The newts were moving about all the time and a couple of times a female would roll over as though preparing to lay an egg, but I didn't see it happen.
What did surprise me was the number of adult water scorpions I saw in just that one area. There were at least eight, obviously in hunting mode, and moving about quite quickly amongst the pond weed. One crawled past holding a water louse (Asellus aquaticus) in the grasp of its modified front legs.
One factor about lying down at the edge of the pond is that it inevitably attracts the attention of frogs who move into the area in the hope that the movement they have detected means food!
Tonight a check of the pond revealed 56 frogs in sight - 3 on the bank and the rest in the water!
25 April - During the late afternoon, in bright sunshine, I spent sometime by the pond, fascinated by the behaviour of the newts. The males were busy displaying to the females and chasing other males away.
The picture shows a female (right) being the subject of a displaying male. He would bend his tail as shown and vibrate rapidly it in what looked to be a violent action. As the female moved forward the male would also move to keep his position ahead of her.
There were five pairs endulging in this behaviour in a small part of the pond, but most of the time they were half hidden by plants so it wasn't possible to get any other photographs.
As I watched, a young newt with external gills (as pictured on 4 April) wandered right through the action. Also, if you look at the large picture you can see some tiny flies in the bottom left corner. There are lots of these thriving on the floating plants.
29 April - The April showers of the last few days have kept the water level high in the big pond, but the small pond still needs topping up. Later in the year I may undertake a bit of plumbing to overcome this.
Today is very windy and it is difficult to look into the pond.
What I did spot was this dead newt (the first dead amphibian seen here this year). It seems ironic that an animal that a short time ago could well have been hunting tadpoles for food has now become the centre of interest for them in their search for nourishment.
On a technical note, the photograph is rather 'murky' as the overcast sky mean that a polarising filter had a greatly reduced effect on surface reflections.