Kicking off #30DaysWild today I decided to spend some time by the pond in the hope of stumbling across some of the amphibians with whom I share my small, urban garden. Carrying my coffee into the garden and positioning myself by the water – a flurry of frantic splashes provided the first indicator of life within the murky depths of the pond. With various critters – presumably frogs – fleeing immediately upon my approach. The sight of something large looming above the water doubtless reminiscent of the heron which occasionally drops in for a visit. The exodus rendering the pond still during the first five minutes or so of my visit; though this would not last.
As is often the case, with a little patience, normality soon returned to the pond; and to my delight, the first suspicious faces soon began to emerge tentatively from the water. A grand total of thirteen Common Frogs Rana temporaria, of all shapes and sizes, soon paddling into view. The wealth of colours on display – ranging from olive and deep green, to brown and almost yellow – a joy to behold, and a clear reminder as to the variability of this underappreciated species. Excitement surging when a few individuals decided to lumber up out of the water, heron-centric fears clearly banished for the time being. It really is hard not to smile when gazing into the bug-eyed face of a frog and I, for one, adore them.
The many frogs in the pond today were, however, far from alone; and after the briefest of glances earlier on, I quickly caught sight of a tale wiggling beneath the drooped stems of some marsh marigolds. A newt, but which species. Well, as expected, when the animal did eventually emerge briefly from its hidey-hole, it was quickly identified as a Smooth Newt Lissotriton vulgaris – a common yet seldom seen garden resident. This particular newt – a male – looking particularly dapper clad head to toe in leopard-esque spots and still spouting his impressive crest. Unfortunately, the sight of the newt was woefully breif and it quickly moved on, leaving me to content myself with the many radiant Sun Flies Helophilus pendulus buzzing erratically around my newly planted irises.
Completing the amphibian triumvirate, a quick visit to the summer house found the resident Common Toad Bufo bufo still hiding beneath his favoured stretch of carpet. His presence there doubtless a result of the surplus of woodlice venturing in at present. How do I know this? Well, the handsome fellow took the liberty of eating one right in front of me, his appetite clearly unaffected by my presence in his lair. I would be curious to know if anyone reading his post has found toads indoors before? It seems to be a regular occurrence here.
Day one’s activity has been a tame one by all accounts, and I am sure many of you have committed to myriad more exciting ventures. For me, however, half an hour in the company of some glorious amphibians – all of which I count myself lucky to harbour given the state of their wider populations – was more than sufficient to leave me grinning from ear to ear and ready to face the rest of the day.
Here is a quick montage…