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Post by Ploshkin on 23rd July 2013, 9:16 am

Back at the beginning of the year my dearly beloved dug a big hole behind the sheep shed, mainly an excuse to play with the JCB but also as a reservoir for an emergency water supply in case the supply to the shed froze while the sheep were housed.  When the frogs arrived to spawn in the ditch, as they always do, they took advantage of the hole as well & despite being frozen several times we ended up with thousands of tadpoles.
It occurred to me that in my several decades on this earth I had never actually seen a tadpole grow its legs - the ones in jam jars in school never got to that stage, poor things.  So, I have been observing the tadpoles at regular intervals & watched their legs forming & seen some coming out of the water, still with the remains of their tails.  It's really lovely to see tiny frogs about the size of a 5p & brilliant to see something for the first time.
But what I have found is that we have inadvertently acquired the most wonderful wildlife pond.  While watching the tadpoles I have seen pond skaters, whirligig beetles, water boatmen (I just love their little flippers) and best of all palmate newts.  There are at least 6 newts, male & female.  I now have a newt watching session every day if I have the time (who wants to hoover or clean the shower anyway) & they have now knocked toads off my favourite thing spot.  There have been several days of large red damselflies courting & the other day I watched a stunning dragonfly dipping its tail in the water to lay eggs.  There are loads of other buzzing things too that are too fast to identify but I did see 2 skipper butterflies that I have never seen before.
The great thing is that in all this hot weather, with no rain for a few weeks, the water has maintained its level even though the ditch is completely dry (it's dug in blue clay) & oddly, the water level was actually higher one morning when there had been no rain.
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Post by Dandelion on 23rd July 2013, 8:29 pm

Will you make a feature of it now, P? How brilliant that it doesn't dry out. I've been re-filling my tiny wildlfe pond for the water butts, but when that ran out I've had to run tap water into a bucket and leave it for 24 hours before filling the pond. We have two resident frogs who are quite happy to sit and watch me - they seemed to enjoy being under the torrent of water from the bucket. Would love to have newts though...

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 25th July 2013, 10:00 am

It's not really in a suitable place to become a feature, Dandelion, but it seems to be getting on very well under its own natural steam so I will just leave it carry on. However, the place where it is will shortly be fenced off because of moving a gate & I am eyeing up the bit next to the pond as a potential site for a polytunnel.
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Post by Ploshkin on 15th July 2014, 11:39 am

I thought I would resurrect this thread from about this time last year.
Usually I see just one or two dragonflies around the garden but this year I have seen many more - possibly the result of the egg laying I witnessed last year.  The pond is quite different this year.  It started the season black with tadpoles but the majority of them seemed to disappear quite quickly.  I then notices a number of scorpion like things coming up to the surface & after a lot of searching found that they were the larvae of the Great Diving Beetle & they are predatory.  They disappeared a couple of weeks ago (apparently they go on to the land to pupate) but yesterday I saw an adult Great Diving Beetle, nearly 2" long & 1" across with little flippers, quite a sight.  There are still surviving tadpoles growing legs & I have also seen newts again but the water is a bit murkier this year with algae so I can't see down to the bottom.  Last year I saw just a couple of Greater Water Boatmen at the end of the season but loads of the smaller variety, this year it's the other way round.  It's fascinating watching nature take something over.
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