Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another day at the pond

Going to the pond never gets old. Last week my nieces came to visit, providing the perfect excuse to head over for the umpteenth time this summer.

The fountain which had been off all summer, had now been turned on, spraying a showery rainbow across the surface of the pond.

How would this affect the creatures living in the pond? More critters seemed to shy away from the spray, prefering to keep close to the pond's edge. The whirligig beetles were spinning crazily just a couple of feet from shore and we noticed more frogs and salamanders crowded in the leaf litter and the duckweed.

There was also an abundance of interesting fungi growing on the mossy banks.

While I was busy taking photos, my son, daughter and two nieces were busy scooping muck from the rim of the pond, discovering spotted salamanders and frogs at all stages of development.

My 9-year-old niece managed to net a good-sized green frog with a bright yellow belly.

Here is one of many spotted salamanders they found, some still sporting gills.

This little frog had quite a bit of tail still left.

Below is a giant water bug nymph that was lurking on the pond bottom waiting for a tadpole lunch (or maybe a kid's finger). The best find, by far, was a den of Northern water snakes (Nerodia sipedon). I surprised an adult female basking on a sunny patch of moss and she quickly slid into the water. As I called the kids to watch her swimming just below the duckweed, they noticed little heads poking out and thin black bodies winding through the greenery. Babies!

Each child got a chance to catch a tiny snake. Northern water snakes bear live young from August through October, so these little ones were brand new. Everyone enjoyed showing off the snakes.

The babies looked so dark in our palms, but their reddish markings were clearer in the bright sunlight. We returned them to do their job keeping the pond population of leeches, tadpoles, and salamander larvae in check.

Another glorious day and a great way to end the summer. School starts tomorrow...


  1. WOW! We wish we were along to see those baby water snakes! And you saw some beautiful Amanita fungi. Not to mention that water bug nymph . . . That was truly a day to remember =)

  2. The snakes were great. The kids had a blast. I let them keep them for a week, then they released them back at the den. The adults are known to be biters if handled, but these little ones were calm. Thanks for filling me in about the fungi - I admire their form and beautiful colors, but have a lot to learn about identifying them.

  3. CECE your article is awesome

  4. Thanks! Glad you came by and enjoyed reading it.