The Pond Diary

March (part 1) 2003

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1 March - St. David's Day.

Heavy rain last night and more showers today have not dampened the enthusiasm of the frogs. This picture, taken this afternoon, shows just a part of the assembled mass, scrambling over the early frogspawn as they search for partners. I leave you to count the frogs.

Needless to say, all the spawn I have seen so far looks healthy and fertilised.

If it wasn't for the frequent showers I could spend all afternoon watching them and taking pictures, but I'll settle for this one for the moment.

These two seem oblivious of the chaos around them as they prepare to add to the spawn mountain that is already forming.

Click on the images to see larger versions


2 March - By tonight most of the shallow end of the big pond is a wobbling mass of frogspawn, and the spawning is not over yet. Frogs are still paired up and in the deeper area there is a ball of frogs rolling around in the centre of the pond.

Things are a little bit quieter tonight, with very little croaking after another noisy day. Quite a few frogs are under water as it approaches 9pm and the skies are clear. The air temperature by the pond has dropped from 10C this afternoon to just 0.5C this evening (the water is at 6.5C).

Having said that, there are still dozens on the surface, including this pair in the shallow end and surrounded by spawn.

I must not forget the newts. There have not been any decent photographic opportunities yet but I see them swimming about in the big pond every time I look there during darkness.

The last two nights I have also spotted caddis fly larvae, or at least their leaf cases, as they move slowly about.


4 March - Spawning goes on with the frogs as busy as ever, many still crowded in the shallow area.

There is even less 'open water' in that part of the pondas the spawn pile up, and the forgs spend most of their time clambering over it.



5 March - I get the impression that things are a bit quieter this morning, although there are still a lot of frogs waiting in anticipation for something to happen, and early this morning there was a ball of frogs rolling about in the little pond, which is an unusual sight.

I know it if a bit repetitive, but here is another picture of frogs at the shallow end of the big pond, in a corner not filled with spawn - still no newt photo opportunities.

Click on the images to see larger versions


7 March - Just a short note to say that the main spawning appears to be over now. Today the pond has been quiet with no activity in the spawning area. The frogs that were visible in other parts of the ponds have been very sensitive to my walking past, diving under the water. Heavy rain has filled both ponds to the brim.


8 March - No doubt about it, the frogs are finished with spawning and they have been spending most of their time underwater today.

It is now time to start watching the Smooth (or Common) Newts, and I spent time this evening doing just that. Using a headlamp makes the task easy, but I have to take care because keeping the main part of the beam pointed at a newt for more than a few moments causes it distress and it swims away.

There were at least a dozen that I could see easily, including this one, hunting near the surface.

Photography is a bit of a hit and miss process with duckweed floating into view and confusing the camera's autofocus.

Although most of the newts were moving about independently, I spotted this pair in a shallow area. The newt nearest the camera has a frill so it must be a male, but I'm not sure about the other one.

It was being followed closely by the nearer one for quite some time, although I did not see any of the tail waving displays that would suggest courtship.

Click on the images to see larger versions



10 March - Last night, and again tonight there has been more croaking going on in the big pond and activity amongst a small group of active individuals.

Most of the other frogs are spending their time at the bottom of the pond, like this one which is under only a couple of inches of water. The ones that are deeper look flattened under the pressure of the water.

There was no sign of courtship amonst the newts that I watched tonight.


While I watched the newts, a Water Scorpion moved across the area I was looking at, moving very quickly - very uncharacteristic!

A few minutes later I found this one in a more usual ambush posture, keeping very still, holding onto vegetation.




Also spotted were a couple of Caddis Fly larvae on the move, or at least, their mobile homes of leaves. The larva's front end is just about poking out of the right hand end of this one. You may just make out a bit of a front leg!


11 March - Just a short note to say that last night's croaking heralded another spawning and a mode of fresh frogspawn has been added to the masses already here.

13 March - Tonight was the quietest I have seen the pond since it was covered with ice back in February, with just one frog in sight at the surface and only a trio of newts visible under water.

Last night I spotted a brown swimming water beetle which must have been about 1cm long. I shall have to watch out for it again and try to ID it.

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