Saturday, 23 August 2008

shirls pondwatch

You don’t really need a garden to relax by a pond like the Oriental short-clawed otters in the photo below. However with all the heavy rainfall we have had recently the idea of sitting at the water's edge on a summer’s day watching the wildlife that visits seems a distant one.

Looking back to July 22nd and I can remember one such day. We were on holiday in Norfollk and had visited Pensthorpe Nature Reserve. It was a very warm sunny day and the butterflies were out in force - so out came my camera! However, as with my own garden, it is always an enormous treat to capture images I wasn’t looking for.


Common blue damselflies (top row above), Downy emerald dragonflies (middle row above) and Club-tailed dragonflies (bottom row above) more than caught my eye that day – they transfixed them! I was looking for plants and water birds at the edge of one of the large ponds and became aware of a slight movement around me. I am used to the midge (infamous tiny biting insect in Scotland) so to be honest at first I didn’t pay too much attention. Then I noticed the flash of blue.

My eyes scanned the reeds and grasses and once I tuned in to them I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. What a beautiful sight as the damselflies and dragonflies almost danced from stem to stem. I had never seen them before or probably what I should say is that I’ve never noticed them. My photos aren’t too sharp as they were so quick and slim but I thought I would share them anyway. They certainly capture that moment for me.


As my family sat on a bench one blue damselfly landed on the ground at the feet of my husband. I quickly passed the camera to him and he captured the photo above. It looked so out of place on the ground! I returned with the camera to the water’s edge again and some movement caught my eye again. This time it was at my feet. Below the delicate dancing insects sat a toad – I wonder how many more were in this area. I have to say that with every post like this I am becoming more and more fascinated with wildlife.


So what is this last photo about? Well, it was taken last night, with my roving night cam, at the edge of my tiny pond. What was I hoping to catch sight of? Ah… we have a toad around our tiny pond! Two nights ago when I went out after midnight to feed our guinea pigs I spotted it in the water on one of the wood poles I put in to help wildlife out. I wonder if it is using any of the rock caves I built below the surface and around the edge.

Okay, a toad is perhaps a pretty ordinary sighting but I found it there when I replaced the original liner a few years ago. I got the fright of my life when I scooped it up in my bucket as I emptied the water. I am wondering if this is the same one – it looks bigger now. We so seldom see it and I did build the caves to encourage it to stay.

We've had very heavy downpours of rain in the evenings so I am wondering if this has any bearing on my sighting. I am also wondering if the hedgehogs may not be around as much on nights like this as I haven’t seen them visit in the evenings recently. I am guessing they are still visiting in the early hours of the morning as the food is being taken from my feeding station.


This toad sighting got me thinking. Have you ever wondered what visits your garden, park or village ponds at this time of year? What about rock pools at the beach? If so, I wonder if you would like to share with us what you see.

If you have a blog you might like to join me with a posting – even just a photo of what you see. If you don’t have a blog maybe you would like to list what you see. Just leave a comment so others can see/read about your sightings. I thought I’d suggest a time period rather than a day for a change so there is no rush. I am hoping that in that time I might just catch something interesting around our pond – either during the day or in the evening. This could be fun – I hope you can join me!


Finally, it really doesn’t matter what size your pond is. If you have large wildlife ponds it would be wonderful to see what wildlife visitors you have. However, if like me, you have a tiny pond it can still provide a home for wildlife like my toad. You can see that in summer my pond is quite shaded and I have such wonderful moss growing on the rocks there now.

You can see how small my pond is in the photos above. I put a garden fork across it to give you an instant guide to scale. I also got the tape measure out. It is approximately 33cm deep (just over 1ft) and the surface water visible measures 1 metre (just over 3ft) long by 50cm (just over 1½ft). You can see how my pond started back in April 2003 with the liner. After leaks I replaced this with kidney shaped moulded plastic one. I then had a stronger surface to play with rocks making hidden pools and caves. I have a small pump.

The photo of the otters was taken at Edinburgh Zoo on August 11th 2008. The photo montages from Pensthorpe were taken July 22nd 2008. The night cam shot of my pond was taken on August 21st 2008.

8 comments:

garden girl said...

Hi Shirl, Aw, those otters are adorable! And the damselflies and dragonflies - they are among the most beautiful of insects. There are certain creatures that just make a person smile inside and out to see them.

I think your pondwatch is a wonderful idea, and I'll be interested to see what everyone sees!

We don't have a pond here, but we do have a small bog, formed last year as a neighbor's weeping willow tree was dying. The willow fell last January. Maybe I'll bog watch! I supect the bog is where our toads originated. We didn't have toads here before.

Nancy J. Bond said...

I miss my pond, but I so enjoyed visiting yours. :)

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Nice shots of the Damsels Shirl, have to say your garden looks great. Mike.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your pond is even larger than mine Shirl. You are lucky to have a toad that lives there. We do have a couple of toads in our garden. Like you say you don't see them often. Especially now, it is so dry here. I was hoping that Fay (tropical storm in the Atlantic) would blow some rain up this way but we haven't been that fortunate yet.

I will keep a lookout for some pond dwellers around here. We do get a few dragonflies passing by from time to time. I can't seem to get their pictures. Your pictures are great.

joe said...

Hi Shirl, great idea for the Pondwatch. I don't have a pond but we do have frogs and toads in the garden. They are sometimes seen hopping around in the wet, overgrown parts of our garden. I look forward to seeing comments relating to ponds!

You took some some brilliant pictures of damselflies there. I'd love to go to Pensthorpe at some point!

Joe

Debbie said...

What a great idea, Shirl. I also have a small garden pond, one of the premolded ones. I'll be keeping my eye out and post on my blog.

Love all the photos.

easygardener said...

Pondwatch is a good idea - I'll pop out and have a look at mine if the rain stops for long enough!

shirl said...

Hi there Garden Girl, Nancy, Mike, Lisa, Joe, Debbie and easygardener :-)

Garden Girl – They were! I have some photos of their faces too but I liked the shots of them looking at the pond. I was tempted to go with a caption! I know what you mean. I am glad you like the idea. I had decided to start watching mine so I thought it could be fun to see what everyone else sees at this time of year too. Great! Wildlife in bogs I never thought of that. It would be great if you can share what you see. Have a good week :-D

Nancy – That’s a shame you no longer have pond and I can understand how you would miss it. Please do share in mine. Have a good week :-D

Mike –Thank-you! I have to say that because I was 'all a flutter' trying to get photos I didn’t hold the camera as still as I should! Thank-you, I will always be a gardener and plants are my real passion. However, I am thoroughly enjoying all the birds and wildlife that visit now too. Have a good week :-D

Lisa – LOL yes I have seen your pond - it has rocks around it too doesn’t it? Even just by comments so far I can see that the toad is illusive. I haven’t spotted it in my night cam yet either. I am hoping that over a period of three weeks I will see it one night but perhaps I won’t! If I could send you some rain I would happily! Oh… you get dragonflies visiting - how wonderful. Thanks, they do move so quick for the camera. I guess a tripod might help. I hope you see lots. Have a good week :-D

Joe – I thought you might like the pondwatch idea especially as you are you are new to blogging on the birds and wildlife in your garden. Maybe you have boggy areas in your garden that the frogs and toads visit. Or perhaps you have plenty places for them to shelter on ‘hot sunny days’ should we ever have them! Thank-you, I am glad you liked the pics. I was just so pleased that any were near in focus at all! I took lots of shots. I am absolutely certain that you would enjoy a visit to Pensthorpe. Have a good week :-D

Debbie – Great, sounds like your pond could be similar to mine. I look forward to seeing what lives in yours. Thanks, I was lucky to get any photos in focus! Have a good week :-D

easygardener – Great, the more the merrier! I just need to pass the word around now. Have a good week :-D