Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More from the pond

A couple of weeks ago, when I did the poissons d'avril post, there was a helathy clump of frogspawn in the pond. We always have plenty of toadspawn, but frogs are scarcer than toads, and nicer and more useful citizens, so their eggs are more welcome. The tadpole embryos were very visible as such, and twitching plenty.

Now, the last of the jelly is disintegrating, and the tadpoles, both frog and toad, are making their way to the nearest available surfaces, the brick edging, rocks and stones, undersides of lily-pads, where they mass and cling for a time, presumably feeding on the algae.


The wisdom in the wildlife gardening books is that you should not stock a pond with goldfish if you want tadpoles to grow up. However, though our goldfish are many and only haphazardly fed, they never seem to eat the tadpoles; I have seen a fish take a smallish taddy into its mouth, apparently chew on it a bit, and spit it out again, unharmed.


The small black fish is a young goldfish; possibly hatched last year. The newest ones mostly seem to be black, whether they change colour later or whether this is a dominant form which is beginning to prevail, I don't know.

Later, a frog jumped away from me as I was cutting the grass. Frogs tend to be more alert and to be able to escape more quickly, unlike toads which have been known to meet distressingly grisly accidental deaths at our hands with lawn mowers and garden forks. This one allowed me to approach quite close with the camera, and only leaped off under the hedge when I started the mower up again. It pleases me that in French la grenouille is feminine, while le crapaud (toad) is masculine. The gender, I know, belongs to the word not the thing, but I can't help feeling in this case it is appropriately assigned. Not that I've anything against toads...

11 comments:

julie said...

I love the tadpoles, Lucy! We don't get too many of those around here, but we do have some kind of toad. I think you're right about the gender thing :)

marja-leena said...

How delightful to have such a productive pond. Great pictures. Bet Dave will enjoy this.

Rosie said...

we used to have a pond and I do miss it...lots of goldfish to eat the mosquito larvae, and I used to love the sound of the frogs. It was artificial, and one hot day a newfoundland jumped in it and ripped the lining with its claws. I think the new owners relined it...and dog proofed it!

MB said...

Lovely photos, Lucy. The first is especially striking.

Reluctant Blogger said...

I used to have a pond with goldfish but a heron kept eating them until there were none.

Saying that reminds me actually - I'm sure my daughter used to sing a little rhyme

Cinq grenouilles dans ma jardin
something something something
and then they got mown by a lawnmower or something and there were none. Sorry - I have a hopeless memory especially for French but I do remember it being a bit gruesome. Or maybe she changed it to make it gruesome??

Jonathan said...

Close to where we live by the Seine, at Croissy, there is a place called La Grenouillere where late 19th Century ladies and gents would go swimming in the Seine. There is even a museum dedicated to the place in Croissy. I just point this out to show that men can be frogs as well :-)

Dave King said...

Wonderful pictures, reminding me of Seamus Heaney's Death of a Naturalist.

Bee said...

Oh, your brilliant photos! So gooey and green . . .

My little daughter once rescued some tadpoles from a gutter -- helped by our nutty naturalist neighbor. The two of them patiently relocated some kind of amphibian spawn for hours! I can't wait to show her your photos!

Isabelle said...

Oh, hate the thought of mown toads but lovely pics.

Those are certainly very splendid toilets! I must show them to my architect daughter. When she was a very baby architect she kept being given toilets to design. They're a bit Gaudi-like, aren't they?

jzr said...

So interesting and fun! I've wanted a little water garden but so far there is too much to do as it is. Besides, we have the BIG water garden rushing right past our house!

rr said...

I hope this mean that if you kiss a frog in France it turns into a handsome princess. Everyone knows, of course, that all you get from kissing toads is warts.