Sunday, 30 June 2013

Year of the Frog?

On a sunny day I enjoy nothing more than staring into a pond or stream. The mirrored interface between water and air really is a window into another world. You can see through it better if you have polarised glasses, or a polarising filter on your camera, but I would love to put on a snorkel and get in there for a fish-eye view.

Looking into the pond at the Visitors' Centre at lunchtime I counted no less than 30 great-crested newts hovering like black mini-'gators just under the surface. Normally they are nocturnal but I guess the non arrival of the British summer had got to them too. As I approached to get some photos there was series of "plops" made by frogs hopping back into the water from the bank. It reminded me of a prairie pond in Illinois where I first encountered bullfrogs and turtles. Walking along the bank caused an absolute cascade of panicking, tumbling, hopping, falling, splashing objects, none of which I saw.

Big new pond.
While I was pointing out the newts and frogs a grass snake decided to put in an appearance by swimming along the length of the pond along the far bank. It made my day, but caused a mixed reaction among our visitors. I'm always amazed at how many people are afraid of snakes, but I suppose it makes sense. Our early ancestors lived in warmer climes where snakes were probably very common. A lot of them would have been venomous so I guess the earliest experimental herpetologists took a great risk. Most of them didn't get to pass on their genes while those who had a phobia about wriggly reptiles probably did. It's the same story with spiders.

Anyway, my enthusiasm was up, so I went off in search of more snakes around Rudd Pit. I found three more, but they were very alert. The only one that I was able to approach had its head in a hole and thought I couldn't see it. I got a photo of just it's middle. 'Different or what?