The Pond Diary
March (part 2) 2003
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16 March - Another note about the Caddis-fly larvae today. Looking into the pond is now a bit reminiscent of the time back last Summer when the leaf-cutter bees were cutting out leaf discs to use in their burrows.
Pond plant leaves are suffering a similar fate as the Caddis fly larvae construct their mobile homes.
The pond is almost quiet now, except for the occasional croaking for individual frogs, hidden in the weedy edges of the pond.
While watching the Caddis-fly larva I spotted this Lake Limpet (Ancylus lacustris) apparently feeding on the surface of the leaf as the larva moved about the pond.
18 March - The occasional croak continue to eminate from the vegetation, but the only activity that was obvious on the water today was the movement of a couple of Pond Skaters, the first sighting for this Spring.
I suppose that I've been ignoring the developing tadpoles, so here is a picture of a typical group. These look as though they are roughly the same stage as the one I photographed exactly a year ago, when I took the series of close ups to follow the egg's development.
I assume that the very different casing means that this is a different species to the one I pictured a couple of days ago, but I am not able to identify either one. It seems that you have to extract the larva from its home in order to ID it, and I do not wish to do that.
20 March - Just a short note about the frogs today. In the early afternoon they became very active again. There were a couple of dozen of them dashing about after anything that moved, and croaking levels were at their highest since the main spawning began.
21 March - A note about an unusual occurance in the pond today. I noticed a frog that seemed to have a problem. It was trying to swim, but only succeeded in moving in a tight circle. A close inspection revealed that it had one digit on it's left rear foot trapped in the closed shell of an Orb-shelled cockle. With the cockle securely attached to pond weed the frog was well and trult stuck.
I left it alone for a while, but eventually I decided to cut the weed away from the cockle - the frog swam away with cockle still attached.
This is the second time that I have come across a cockle attaching itself to an amphibian's foot, although I seem to remember that several years ago it was a newt that was the unwelcome victim!
If you look closely at the large image you can see a flatworm, one of many that can be seen moving about the pond, clinging to the underside of the water's surface film.
On a sad note, I removed the body of a dead frog this afternoon. It is the only one I have seen here this Spring, despite the large numbers present overe the last month. The frogs really have gone quiet now, with no more than a dozen or so to be seen, hidden amongst the vegetation.
There are well developed buds on the Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) and I expect them to flower shortly.
27 March - Just a short note to say that the first of the Marsh Marigold flowers opened today.
29 March - During this last week I have spent very little time looking at activities in the pond. However, tonight (around 10pm) I took a few minutes to watch a corner of the pond and was rewarded by the sight of male newts displaying with boldly waved tails, and females egg-laying.
There were a dozen or so newts in the small area I watched, but it was difficult to get a photograph of egg-laying. This is the nearest that I got. Notice how her hind feet are clasped together in the manner used to fold a leaf around a single egg.
While the adult newts were busy, on the same clump of pond-weed there were four juvenile newts (about 4cm long), still bearing their external gills.
Also very active were several water scorpions. Although I didn't manage to get a photograph, it appeared as though two of them were engaged in mating.
30 March - Last night, in the area where I watched the newt activity I also spotted an orb-shell cockle (Sphaerium spp.). This morning it was still in sight (small image), although it had moved about a foot from last night's position. It measures just over 1cm across.
The small picture shows it at lunchtime, shell firmly closed,as they were all through the day. Tonight after dark its shell valves were open and I could see its two siphons (main image). These help distinguish it from the pea-shell cockles which have just one siphon.
Interestingly, in the more recently developed shell there seems to have been a definite change in the colouration of the cockle's shell to an overall grey colour, with very dark bands. I wonder if this could be new growth this Spring.
This Planorbis corneus (Great Ramshorn) also shows new shell growth having a different colour. I shall have to look at some more shells to see if the effect is a general one. The shell measures about 8mm across.
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