Saturday, 11 April 2009

Underwater Romance

Yesterday being a Bank Holiday I spent the best part of the day pottering round the garden. I soon get irritated by crowds and noise (grumpy old man syndrome) so I keep out of the way on such days. After a misty and drizzly start it turned out to be a lovely warm day for the time of year.

Checking the pond I spied a pond skater (common water-strider, Gerris lacustris) so fetched the camera. I had to wait a while as it was dashing around all over the place and occasionally leaping up. Eventually it rested a while for me to get a couple of portraits.

Pond Skater

Earlier on I thought I had briefly spied the tail of a disappearing newt so I hung around every so often to try to get a better view. Eventually I was rewarded by seeing not one but four newts all in view at the same time.

Later I saw two Common Newts which were staying very close together and it appeared to be a male following a female. These shots are rather murky as they were on the bottom of the pond.

Common Newts

After a while what appeared to be the female came to the surface and spent a while probably laying eggs on the pond weed. The middle picture shows quite a fat belly which is what leads me to believe it is the female.

Common Newt Laying

She stayed there a while and then moved on to another clump of weed where she spent more than a minute in the same spot.

Common Newt Laying

As there were fish around I stayed near this area to keep them away. When she had finished I gathered some of the weed from this spot and transferred it to the nursery pond where the frog spawn is so that if there were any eggs they would have a chance to hatch. There was a short mass of jelly about an inch long and a quarter of an inch wide. Whether this was laid by the newt or a great pond snail I am not sure. Only time will tell.

I was fascinated by the way the great pond snails move from one area of the pond to another. Sometimes they slither round the outer edge but many other times they float upside down and let the breeze take them across the water. As they reach new pastures they wrap them selves round the stem and start browsing on the algae there.

Great Pond Snail

About 2 p.m. the weather started to change, drizzle and getting cooler, so we went for afternoon walkies and then I called it a day on the photographic front. By 3 it was raining and it rained on and off the rest of the day.


  1. Fascinating stuff and good photos John and you've talked us through it beautifully. It was wet here all day yesterday. Incidentally referring to your previous remarks I've never liked crowds either, and when the folk round here go out or away I cheer (to myself of course). They are all perfectly pleasant but I just prefer it when they're not there! Oh to live in the middle of nowhere.

  2. These are amazing pictures, great stuff; my pond is too weedy (especially with duckweed) to see much from the surface.

  3. Nice photos of the pond skater with a beautiful reflection from the surface of the water. I remember watching them when I was very young and wondering how they kept on the surface. Ponds out here present special challenges as they have to be raised high enough to keep out the Cane Toads - a VERY nasty introduced pest which is very poisonous. Sometime I must do a post about them.

  4. ShySongbird: Thank you once again for the nice comment. Today has been miserable, damp and 7C cooler than yesterday. I took a lot of photos round the garden yesterday but decided to stick with one subject in the blog instead of the usual Heinz 57.

    Greenfingers: Thanks for the nice comment. My old small pond was always covered with duckweed introduced with plants bought from garden centres. I do not know how I have managed to stay clear on the big pond. The oxygenating plant multiplies rapidly but is easier to cull. Also as it is so shallow it is easy to see things on the bottom though the layer of silt is growing deeper but like everything else it provides a habit for some creatures.

    Mick: Thank you for the nice comment. It was a job to find the little beastie in a place where the sky reflections were absent. I've heard about the Cane Toads. From what I have heard and seen on TV you have far more creatures which are a danger to life down under than we have here.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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