The Pond Diary
September - 2003
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3 September - For the second time this year one I have encountered one of these water beetles in unusual circumstances. Back on 6 May one appeared in some soapy water as I was doing some clearing up in my driveway. Today this one crashed into the windscreen of my parked Landrover Discovery while I was away from home. It slid down the glass and then jumped up several times but could not get a grip on the glass.
A plastic bag became a temporary pond until I returned home and it is now in my pond.
It is a female Acilius sulcatus, measuring about 15mm in length. The close-up images show the tufts of 'hair' on the thorax and the hind leg, modified by being flattened with a fringe of hairs to turn them into excellent swimming devices.
A note about the frogs - while there are lots of tiny frogs about there are still numerous tadpoles still swimming about without any signs of legs developing.
8 September - Just a quick bit of pond dipping between doing other things came up with several tadpoles with developing legs and just one young newt.
These images were taken in a thin aquarium, especially made for 'pond photography' and then the newt was returned to the pond.
The newt is a bit less than 2.5cm long and I find the delicate structure of its limbs quite amazing.
This close-up of the head shows clearly the irregular patches of pigment that are more concentrated towards the upper parts of the body.
The smaller image shows how bulbous the cornea of the eye is, a detail that only appears as a flat, black disc in a side view.
Click on the images to see larger versions
Several times the newt swam up to the surface to breath, which suggests that, even though it still has its feathery gills, it is close to the time when it can leave the water.
12 September - Just a short note which in a way could be in the garden diary -
While I was watching the bee hotel and the camera was set up to catch images of the potter wasp, I happened to look down just as this little newt was running rather rapidly across a stepping stone right in front of my left foot.
Measuring just over 1 inch (25mm) long it moved through the grass at a tremendous speed, stopping briefly every so often to look down into the shadows. I assume it was hunting.
It must be one of this year's brood, and I would guess, has grown from an egg laid quite early in the season.