The Frogs Are Back!

x4 images. Double click to enlarge.

Back in February I noticed the frogs had did their thing and laid eggs in small clumps initially. Then as the days passed the pond was quite full of eggs!

And there appeared to be no stopping them.

I spotted around 3 frogs amidst the plant growth and frogspawn, appearing quite content.

Common Frog Rana temporaria

I even found one out and about skirting the perimeter. Now the pond is alive with young tadpoles eating algae off the stones.

Becoming


Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – I found this one hiding under a rock near the garden pond. It was smaller than my little fingernail. As you can see it still has its tail, but its limbs are developing, and it can hop a short distance, although a little clumsily. Early days yet.


Common Frog Rana temporaria tadpole

Common Frog Rana temporaria tadpole

Venturing Onto Land


Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – At 12 mm(1/2 in) long, I just about spotted this little froglet in the garden pond. How quickly it has grown. I spied its younger siblings still with their tails, feeding on algae beneath the water, but this one will now be carniverous as it ventures out onto land for the first time.


Common Frog Rana temporaria froglet

Double-click image for a closer look.


Hunting & Hunted


Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – Life in the garden pond can be quite a challenge. As featured in a previous post, I watched damselflies hunting flies, snatching them out of the air. Now, as newly emerging damselfies are leaving the water where they have been as larvae for the past year or so, I have seen the frogs leaping out the water in a bid to hunt them for food. There are around 3 or 4 frogs in the pond, as well as all the tadpoles. As if the frogs were not enough, I was but a couple of feet away from a little bird, a Dunnock, as it snatched a freshly emerged damselfy off its perch within the pond. Yet there were dameslflies mating on the margins, coupling to ensure another future generation. Triumph and tragedy in its own little ecosystem.


Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

© Peter Hillman ♦ 7th May 2020 ♦ Rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Hunting Ground


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) – I saw two of these around the garden pond today … and they were on the hunt. Although not power fliers like the larger dragonflies, they were quick and nimble, and I watched one of them snatch a fly out of mid-air. I was quite amazed how they soon got used to my presence and allowed me to get fairly close up to them with my macro lens. Double-click on images to enlarge.


Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

© Peter Hillman ♦ 26th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Large Red Damselfly


Pyrrhosoma nymphula – I saw three of these around the garden pond fluttering lazily in the sunshine before settling down again. I know they breed in the pond, as I have seen their larvae under the water.


Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

© Peter Hillman ♦ 25th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Growing Bigger


Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – I can’t believe what a frenzy of activity is going on in the garden pond at the moment. It is teeming with tadpoles and all of them are scraping algae from the rocks, so much so some of them are virtually picked clean. They have grown so much bigger, too. Double-click images to enlarge.


Common Frog Rana temporaria tadpole

Common Frog Rana temporaria tadpole

© Peter Hillman ♦ 24th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Frogs Are Coming


Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – This is an early stage tadpole, and I appear to have zillions of these teeming in my small garden pond at the moment. Note the branch-like appendages either side of the head … these are external gills, which as the tadpole develops will become wrapped in a pocket of skin to become internal. Amazing to think that this little fellow, if all goes well, will become a frog! Double-click for a closer peek.


Common Frog Rana temporaria early stage tadpole

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 16th March 2020
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


End of Season Flowers

Water Mint Mentha aquatica

The Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) has gone mad again this year, spreading its roots and sprouting throughout the garden pond. Yet its sweet sugary goodness attracts many insects, so it is always good in that respect. This is one of the last blooms which I wanted to try and capture before they all disappeared with the advance of autumn.

September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Getting Bigger

Common Frog Rana temporaria

I have noticed how big the young frogs are now growing in the garden pond. I spied four of them amongst the Water Mint and pond weed poking their heads out the water.

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Feel free to click the images to enlarge and click again to get even closer …


© Pete Hillman August 2019

Around The Garden Pond

Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata) – Over the last three years since my garden pond’s inception it has attacted some interesting and beautiful forms of wildlife. Growing Water Mint attracts these attractively coloured little micro moths. The adult moths lay ther eggs on the plants and the hatching caterpillars feed on the leaves.

Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata

Rear garden, May 2019. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Underwater Grazing

Back in March I discovered clumps of frogspawn in my garden pond which was built 3 years ago in the spring of 2016. You can imagine my excitement as this was the first time I might have my first tadpole nursery!

Before I knew it the tadpoles were appearing, and as they grew I noticed how they would graze on the algae growing on the stones in the shallows. I like how they have gradually turned from black blobs to these rather beautiful bronze speckled creatures. I was also quite surprised by how their eyes are so pronounced. They not only feed on algae but water fleas. It will take 16 weeks for them to grow their back legs, then their front legs, and eventually they will absorb their tails to emerge from the water as froglets. It will take them 2 to 3 years to reach breeding maturity. Rinse and repeat.

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …


May 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Frogs Partying In The Night Pool

Common Frog Rana temporaria

The other night I caught a couple of frogs in and around the garden pond. With temperatures in the high twenties amd touching thirty who can blame them? 🙂

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


Common Frog Rana temporaria, , July 2018, rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Return of The Sun Fly

Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus resting on a stone on the edge of my garden pond. May 2018, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

 

Intelligent Nature

Tetragnatha sp

This is a Long-jawed Orb-weaver Spider Tetragnatha sp. stretched along one of the stalks of my iris which is growing in the garden pond. It apparently somehow knows that the iris is flowering and attracting airborn insects. No doubt, in due course, it will spin a web to attempt to catch them.

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

Let’s Have Some Marmalade!

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

By pure coincidence as I was photographing the garden pond for the previous blog to my joy I had this delightful little visitor alight on the Yellow Flag Iris.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

It is called the Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus, and I had to do quite the balancing act, getting my socks wet more than once, to get these photos as it had landed on the Iris which is growing in the pond.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

At first it appeared to be feeding or drinking water droplets from the flower, but it was also giving its back legs a good washing.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Whatever it was doing it certainly brightened up this rainy, grey leaden day for me 🙂

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm with AML72-01 achromatic macro lens and Sigma 105mm macro lens. Yep, it even gave me time to change lenses between shots.

Garden Pond After 2 Years

Garden Pond

As requested by my blogging friend Vicki (who has a lovely blog called ‘Living With nature’), here are some pics of the garden pond as it has grown and established itself over the past two years. No sun today so very grey and overcast when I took these photos. It’s only very small, but it does attract wildlife. Birds will come and drink or bathe in the water. Hoverflies, damselflies and water beetles have bred in the pond. Frogs and toads visit regular. And the Pfeiffer’s Amber Snail (Oxyloma elegans) has taken up permanent residence there.

Oh, and can you spot the Marmalade? A hoverfly that is? 🙂 I will feature the Marmalade Hoverfly in my next blog.

Garden Pond

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

Finally, After 3 Years …

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

After 3 years since I built my small garden pond and planted this Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus it has flowered for the very first time to my joy. This is the first bloom, and it looks like there are many more to come.

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

An Evening Visitor

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula, this evening May 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

The Large Red Damselflies Are Here

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

These are the first of the Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula I have seen around my garden pond this season.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula


Double click on images to enlarge.


May 2018, rear garden pond Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

Spring In The Garden Pond

Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris

Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris, April 2018, rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

A Breath of Mint

Water Mint Mentha aquatica

Double click to get closer.

Water Mint Mentha aquatica, August 2017, garden pond, Staffordshire, England.

A Risky Business

Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata) – I discovered this caterpillar yesterday feeding from a silken retreat on my Water Mint. The larvae feed on all kind of Mint, but this one has taken quite a chance, for the Water Mint is growing in my garden pond, and this caterpillar has found itself on one tall spike in the centre of it. Good job it is well anchored by its silken threads. Believe it or not, but some caterpillars can swim, but not all can.

Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata larva

Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata larva

Rear garden pond, July 2017. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Nature’s Way

Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus mating


Sun Fly (Helophilus pendulus) mating, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

Ischnura elegans II

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans


Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans), rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. July 2017

Propelled

culicine larva

Before I began to write this I thought, shall I just leave folk guessing what this is? Maybe I will, or … we will see …

It is taken from quite an unusal angle, and I suppose it looks like some kind of unusual golden screw with spikes or hairs radiating outwards. Yet it is a living organism. You cannot see any eyes because they are out of shot, which doesn’t really help much, does it?

There are quite a number of these organisms swimming in my garden pond at the moment forming one of the basis of its ecosystem.

Okay, it is a culicine larva, otherwise known as gnat or mosquito larva. I believe they feed on the algae in the pond. They hang from the surface of the water at an odd angle and breathe oxygen through a tube near the tip of the abdomen. They are amongst the very first creatures to colonise a pond, and they provide food for other life forms to thrive.


Rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

Hunting With The Damselflies

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

I have been watching these beautiful damselflies for quite  sometime as they flitter about my garden pond. The are on the hunt. They will find a favourite perch and then when a small fly comes into their airspace they make a go of catching it. They are not always succesful, but this one was. I think it may have caught a plant louse of some kind, and it didn’t waste any of it.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Quite messy eaters though. You got a bit stuck there … yes just there … above your top lip …


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

Azure Damselfly II

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella

A few more images I manged to take as this Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella), revisted my garden. With the top down view you can see more of its markings, especially the flat-bottomed U-shape mark on segment 2.

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella


Rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Ischnura elegans female infuscans form

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans female infuscans form

I caught this damsel damselfly basking in sun which was just making it through a cloud covered sky.

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans female infuscans form

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans female infuscans form


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Permanent Residence II

Pfeiffer's Amber Snail Oxyloma elegans

One is a start, two is a couple, and three is a party. Pfeiffer’s Amber Snail (Oxyloma elegans).


Rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Azure Damselfly

Coenagrion puella

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella

A new damselfly sighting for me, and in my own backyard. This one was competing for perches around my pond with half a dozen or so Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), and stood his (yes, it is male) ground pretty well. Length 33mm (1in). Similar to other blue damselflies, so care has to be taken in identification. In males look for a characteristic black flat-bottomed U-shape mark on S2,  and S8 is completely blue, S9 having some black markings towards the rear. The female is green but a pale blue form occurs.

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella

It can be seen May to August near small ponds and streams. Very common throughout Britain except in northern parts of Scotland.


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.


Rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Making Hearts

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

There is still a lot of activity around the garden pond, as can be seen in the above image.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) mating, rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Permanent Residence

Pfeiffer's Amber Snail Oxyloma elegans

Pfeiffer’s Amber Snail (Oxyloma elegans), appears to have taken up permanent residence on the edge of my back garden pond. Most days, and for weeks, I have seen it on the rocks or on the Yellows Iris.


June 2017.

Gone Full Cycle

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

From the female I observed last June laying eggs in my garden pond, to the hatched larvae which lived beneath the still water, to their emergence in spring as adults, and now they have gone a full cycle. Here we have a mating pair of  the Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), ensuring the perpetuation of the species.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula mating

 


Garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

In The Night Pool III

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Out in my garden in the dark hours my torch fell on the first frog I have seen in my small pond. He or she had slime on its nose but appeared quite happy taking a dip amongst the pond plants.


Common Frog (Rana temporaria), rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Over Still Waters

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

After emerging from my garden pond the damselflies appeared to have gone off to greener pastures. But they appear to be returning back home, and here is one waiting for small flies to come by to snap out of the air to eat as food, resting on an iris leaf stretched across still waters.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

A New Visitor To The Pond

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans form rufescens female immature

Identifying dragonflies and damselflies can be quite challenge at times, especially as they go through their stages and can have many forms. This is a first for me, and for the garden pond. It is a Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans form rufescens) female immature. The females of this particular species actually come in five colour forms, and this is one of the five.

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans form rufescens female immature

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans form rufescens female immature


Garden pond, Staffordshire. England. May 2017.

Just Emerged

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula newly emerged

Out in the garden this morning, and as always I go to see what’s happening around the pond. I switch on my pump, which has no filter and is open, and helps oxygenate the pond, although I think the oxygenating plants are doing a good job, but the sound and movement of water is always relaxing. And what do I notice? A freshly emerged Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). drying out in the early morning sun. It’s larval skin which can be seen on the other side of the tube in partial shade, discarded like an old suit. It was lucky it hadn’t gone up in a jet of water when I initially switched the pump on!

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula newly emerged

It must be the main season for emergence as I discovered lots of these freshly emerged damselflies clinging to pond plants with their old larval skins nearby.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula newly emerged

Below, here is one that was made earlier, and is still reluctant to fly until it gets used to its new life out of the water and living in the air.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

Please click on the images for a larger, more detailed view.


Edit: Walter, who runs an excellent blog with some astoundingly detailed photographs of dragonflies has observed that this is a female, as indicated by the prominent ovipositor visible on the ventral side of the tip of her abdomen. You can visit his blog via Walter Sandford’s Photoblog.


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) newly emerged, rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.