Monday, 1 September 2008

Big brother - come back please

The contestants are beginning to appear. The line-up stands at three and late arrivals are still welcome! The challenge - to see what wildlife visits a pond at this time of year. I knew we had a toad around our small pond and after spotting it last week I wanted to see what else did. I also hoped that over a period of three weeks I might capture some images. Well, the cameras have been rolling…

Contestant number one made a cliff-hanging entrance – a lemon slug. Looking through my favourite wildlife reference book I think this is what it is but I’d welcome confirmation on this. I did have difficulty looking at this slug to focus on it – I liked its reflection in the pond though!


Contestant number two had a double identity. Mm... the toad I spotted last week was actually a frog! Okay, hands up, I got it wrong but I am not disappointed at all. What a beauty it is! I was thrilled both to see it and get photos. We definitely do have a toad hiding somewhere but I had no idea we had a frog too. This is where capturing photos helps with ID’s – my book is a photographic reference one and that is why I find it so useful.


This common frog had clearly been swimming in my pond last Friday night as pieces of duck weed could be seen on its beautifully patterned back. Now what you can’t see so clearly (I didn’t notice at the time) is a balloon type bulge at the side further away. I wonder if this happens if it feels under threat. Maybe someone knows?


The sandstones rocks and ground cover plants around my pond had been great camouflage for this frog. I had been looking along the waters edge – really quite closely. I stepped back and with a final glace as I was about to walk away there it was sitting above the water.

I couldn’t believe I had nearly missed it! However, I do wonder if it has a much bigger brother! Two weekends ago, when I was busy in the garden, I got the fright of my life when I nearly stood on something on the grass path behind my pond. My challenge now is to get a photo of that – looking at the photos above I’d say it was a common frog too but much larger than this one.

My night cam, on tripod, has been out positioned at different parts of my pond in the evenings but I have never seen the frog or toad on it – only the slugs slowly sliding around! Ah… but the video capture below is just great. I knew the cat from next door, Edmund, has been conducting his own pondwatch!



What I didn’t expect to catch on film was Edmund pond watching and a hedgehog eating peanuts at the same time! So what happened next? Argh… my memory was full and the video capture ended! I continued to watch the screen to see Edmund walk along the wall behind the hedgehog shortly afterwards. Edmund didn’t pay any attention at all to the hedgehog and the hedgehog didn’t lift its head out of the bowl of peanuts. What a magic moment! Oh wait a minute... I've just found a couple of photos I didn't remember taking.


Mice have been seen around the caves of my pond in the evening. They run out for sunflower hearts on the ground and then dash away again into the caves. I know they are not there at the moment as I would definitely see them in the night cam images as their eyes catch the light. I also suspect that with the rainfall we have had this summer the hidden caves would be flooded. I guess this is what Edmund is looking for but now he is off on his hols.


Contestant number three is the garden snail. Okay, as gardener I don’t like the damage they do to my plants. However, I cannot deny that they do have a beauty of their own too. I watched this one move around the mossy rocks and it was fascinating to see how it gracefully it moved. Oops… did I really say that? Yep, on the rocks they looked great but when they start climbing higher - oh that’s a way different matter!


Most of these images have been captured after midnight. I often write posts later in the evening as this works my family life. I started this one last night but it got too late to finish. Before turning in for the night I went outside with my camera once more. I stood in the still quiet night and did very well to spot Contestant number two again. The common frog was hiding under leaves of primula and astilbe. I am pretty confident that this is contestant number two as the patterns are the same. Having photographs really helps.

Finally, as I wait for big brother to arrive at my pondwatch am I considering any evictions? Oh yes… sorry you may have a pretty name Lemon Slug but consider yourself nominated!!

All photos and the video above were taken around my pond during the last week of August 2008.

17 comments:

Nancy J. Bond said...

You've got quite a menagerie around your pond! The cat is so funny -- I wonder what he's watching for? Hopeful? Or just entertained? ;)

garden girl said...

Hi Shirl, nice bunch of critters around your pond! I loved the video, and was quite surprised to see the cat and hedgehog seeming indifferent to each other and focused on their own agendas.

PGL said...

What a wonderful wildlife attraction that pond is for you Shirl. Cute video of the cat & hedgehog. lol

easygardener said...

The cat looked rather embarrassed to be in the same picture frame with a hedgehog. Obviously pretending it wasn't there!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your lemon slug is much prettier than the gray slimy things that are in my garden. I feel no remorse when I squish them.

I loved seeing the hedgehog being watched by the cat,too cute. I am glad that Edmomnd didn't attack the hedgehog.

Your snails are also much prettier than our snails. Our snails are just a dull gray/brown. Nothing to make them the least acceptable.

shirl said...

Hi there Nancy, garden girl, pgl, easygardener and Lisa :-)

Nancy – Yes, it seems to be! I am guessing Edmund is watching for mice. However, he does spend a lot of time watching in my garden. During the day he can be seen enjoying the sunny spot of my arbour either under the seat or sitting on top of it like the King of the garden :-D

garden girl – yes, I had no idea this frog was there. Imagine what you would see with a large pond – I wish I had space. I loved the video too but what a shame the recording stopped as the cat walked by the hedgehog. I agree it looked like they were both doing there own thing. As I type this now there is a hedgehog eating peanuts in my feeding station – some prefer to eat in peace there.

Pgl – I agree it is, I suppose I have taken it for granted. I usually watch the birds run around it in the winter months. That video was a lucky capture :-D

Easygardener – You might think that but this cat sees my garden almost as its own territory. Many other cats quickly pass through, others prey on the birds. I think Edmund decided that he was here before the hedgehog so he was holding his ground. The hog – well it was just hungry ;-)

Lisa – Mm… part of me agrees with that. Oh… we have grey too but also a variety of dark colours and some white ones. It makes me shiver just thinking about them. Yes, Edmond sits at this spot almost every night and I have wondered what happens if a hedgehog visits. I have no idea if a cat can attack them – perhaps someone else knows? Yes, I was surprised how pretty the snail was. It is only when I take photos that I find myself taking a closer look and then I look at the subject through different eyes. Eating my plants though, pretty or not, is not acceptable :-D

Cinj said...

Wow, what an assortment of creatures around your pond. You gotta love how cats just pretned nothing in the world exists but them.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

All the critters in this post made me smile.

Jane said...

I've been creeping up on my pond for the last week, trying to spot things. The other day I got very excited when I saw my first Newt. Actually it was a baby Newt an "Eft" and was sunbathing (do you remember when the sun came out briefly the other day?) in the shallows.

shirl said...

Hi again Cinj, Aunt debbi/kurts mom and Jane :-)

Cinj – Not bad yes, considering the pond is tiny :-) I’m really not a ‘cat person’ but I have to say when in my garden he does stroll around like that :-D

Aunt debbi/kurts – I’m glad – they made me smile too :-D

Jane – Fantastic! That is a find especially when your pond is a new one! Congrats on that :-) It looks like your pond is going to be rich with wildlife. I have been toying with the idea of building another that will get some sun – more shallow and without running water. Maybe we might get tadpoles then :-D

Cheryl said...

I love the frog, and you are right he is beautiful....would he eat the slug?? I thought they did.....love the pond life and the way that you write about it....

The hedgehog for me was the best.....I love them...I do get them in the garden, we have one or more at the moment..............unfortunately a lot of them do get run over along the country lanes....I really hate to see it....

Great post Shirl....a pleasure to visit.......

Debbie said...

Great shots, Shirl. Hmmm...I never though to check my pond after dark. Maybe I'll go do that right now.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I love watching your hedgehog videos. I can't believe that the cat just ignored it! Does that Hedgehog have secret camoflage or is the cat simply obsessed with getting those mice that keep teasing it? I'm glad I'm not the only one startled by toads & frogs.

shirl said...

Hi again Cheryl, Debbie and MMD :-)

Cheryl – I’m glad you liked the frog too. I really don’t have a lot of wildlife (by larger pond standards) so that is why I try to make fun posts on mine. The hedgehog footage was cracking but I was really gutted that the memory ran out and I missed capturing the cat walk very closely by the hedgehog with neither acknowledging (at all) that the other was there! Last night I moved a large amount of Nestbox video footage from 2007 over to an external storage book so memory space should be fine for a long time now. I enjoy seeing the hedgehog visit the garden too. We are regularly getting visits at the feeding station I made for them (an upturned plastic box with an entrance of 13cmx13cm at one end). Although the hedgehogs will eat from the bowl outside in the open (so we can see them more clearly) some still prefer the protected area. We are in a small town so I don’t see many on the road (only occasionally) but I have seen them on the roads and I hate it too :-( Thank-you, it is great to have you visit :-D

Debbie – Thank-you, funnily enough now that I think about it most of my pond watching has been done after dark using my infra red night cam which I move about. I do look out during the day but with all the green foliage it is difficult to see.

MMD – Great – I hope your daughter is still enjoying them too :-D Yep… neither acknowledged the other at all! It really was amusing to watch. The cat didn’t hang around long so I am guessing even it can’t see mice at the moment – I wonder if he has been watching the frogs? I have to say I am most surprised how much I have enjoyed looking for (and better still seeing) this frog. I am curious about our toad now. I have been even more surprised at how handsome it looked – pre blog I don’t think I would ever have thought like that :-D

Yolanda Elizabet said...

I vote for lemon slug too! BTW it's easy to see the difference between a toad and a frog when they move. Toads walk and frogs do the hoppy thing.

The Bliss team are asking where Edmund got his neat headlights as they want them too. ;-)

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Stunning shots of Toad Shirl, loving the pond watch.

shirl said...

Hi again Yolanda and Mike :-)

Yolanda - Yeh… definitely up for eviction then ;-) Ah… I didn’t know that. I am sure this one is a frog as I did see Big Brother do the hoppy thing. Sorry, Edmund is on his hols at the moment so tell the Bliss team I’ll ask him when he gets back ;-)

Mike - Thanks, the pondwatch started off as a bit of fun and I have really enjoyed it too :-D