Sunday, July 27, 2008

Biodiversity

More progress on the pond front. It's still amazingly clear, so it's easy to see what's going on under the water, even right at the bottom.

Pondskaters are still eating, mating, fighting and whizzing around

They've been joined by two Backswimmers, Notonecta glauca. These seem to perform a similar role to a spider on land, catching and eating things caught unawares. As well as swimming around just under the water's surface, they also dive after prey. Apparently they have a nasty bite if you handle them...

Loads of Lesser Water Boatmen have appeared sometime during the past few days. Confusingly, another name for the Backswimmer is Water Boatman, though the two species seem quite different.

The real Water Boatmen have a vegetarian diet and seem to spend a lot of time at the bottom of the pond, only coming to the surface for air, which they carry in the form of a bubble stuck to their rear end. They have 'oars' as well but are quite distinctive.

There are lots of beetles in the pond, some quite big, but not Great Diving Beetle size. I'm going to have to get a pond life book to work out what they all are. We've got a school of three Whirligig Beetles, too.

Two pairs of Common Darters were ovipositing (egg-laying) on Saturday, with other unpaired males bickering for control of the pond. No Broad-bodied Chaser this week

Most exciting (I think) was the discovery of a resident Smooth Newt this afternoon, followed rapidly by our first sighting of a Common Frog. It appeared on the side of one of the plant pots before hopping onto dry land and squeezing under the turf at the edge of the pond. I'll have to be careful when I'm walking around.

We've got amphibians!

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D + EF 300mm f/4L IS USM or Canon Powershot A640