It was an evening to dine in the garden, a leisurely tete-a-tete meal with Mrs T. Mrs T has been fretting about the frogs who seem to have abandoned the pond this summer, but as we dug into the home-made blackberry ice-cream (thanks to Abel for the picking he did) there came a croak from the woodpile, a definite, assertive, bass note. A few seconds later, a tenor croak replied from under the holly bush.
Mrs T could go to bed happy. May the frogs be with her!
Mrs T had gone to work when I got in from town, leaving a note to say she had seen two frogs in the pond! (Her exclamation mark)
The heatwave seems to have led them to hide these last two weeks. Even the pond was – apparently – untenanted, though they might have been down in the depths of the pool, ‘where it was fine and cool.’ I heard one croaking one evening from deep in the undergrowth, but Mrs T did not, so that did not count.
I was not best pleased to find the hosepipe all rolled up and disconnected when I arrived at the garden. The pump is temperamental, the hose likewise, and reassembling it all takes longer than it should. Perhaps we need a few more connectors.
Well, I was feeling as temperamental as the equipment when, on my knees, I caught site of this damsel fly drying its new wings beside the river. I would never have seen it, just walking by. I even had chance to grab the phone from my coat and snap! These creatures do not sit still for long once the new life is surging through their veins, so I was grateful to have had a good look and to be able to share it with you.
The Butterflies’ teacher came round after school to bring the ex-frog spawn which was ready to leave school. (The Butterflies can look forward to another eleven or twelve years of it!)
Some of the former little black dots were now hopping on and off the big flint in the middle of their tank, and the rest had legs and were losing their tails. All of them seemed happy to dive into the pond where they were laid. I’m sure more survived into froghood than if they’d stayed in the pond. Mrs Turnstone cannot blame the goldfish for predation after she took ours to her pond at work.
Mr Blackbird discovered this source of protein last year and was keeping an eye this, till the duckweed covered the surface. Now the fish ate most of that, when we had fish. As well as the weed, the frogs of all sizes have logs and rocks to hide themselves away. But can you spot the frogs in the bottom picture?
No, I was not best pleased to be woken, well before dawn, by a loud conversation under my bedroom window. But when the two men had moved on there came a burst of song from the bushes next door – not a robin, but a wren Follow the link to the RSPB website to hear the song I heard and see a portrait of the little bird. Was I reconciled to my rude awakening?
The previous day we had watched one foraging along the river bank, in and out of crevices, decimating, we hoped, the number of insect pests ready to attack the garden come Spring.
And come spring, as she certainly looks like coming, will there be a wren’s nest here, in a crevice in the brick wall, hidden by the weeds and ferns, all but inaccessible to any predator? Let’s hope so: there was last year! This is Solley’s Orchard, a little open space in the centre of Canterbury. There was a flour mill nearby, hence the foaming water from the old sluices.
Miss Turnstone teaches the butterflies, a reception class of 4-5 year-olds. and every year takes some spawn to school so they can watch the tadpoles develop. The frog spawn comes from her mother’s pond.
Hoping to get a photograph for them, I found myself beset with reflections wherever I squatted myself down. Having rejected my snaps altogether, I tried for just one more. This frog chose that moment to swim across the mass of eggs in the bottom of the pond, and gave us an action shot. Not great, but good enough.
The clear water in the pond suggests that it is more than good enough; there’s plenty of weed to start the tadpoles off in life, but we do need to keep a weather eye out for frost. Once the eggs are afloat we could lose a lot to freezing conditions. We’ll live in hope and be ready to help.
The first frog I saw this morning was flattened on the street, possibly en route to our pond. But there were two in there this morning, and a splash and a croak when I went to lock up. Let’s hope they are not deceived by the warm weather into laying eggs that will be killed by the frost. This one met Abel’s mummy a few years ago.