Derek – Thursday 17th May

We have a sunny day in the garden, with a temperature around 20˚C. We have about 30 visitors. Mums with babies and toddlers to begin with, and, at around 4pm, children from primary schools with parents.

The irises are out on pond, also called flags, they are bright yellow. I noticed last year, this was the time we see dragon and damsel flies and today doesn’t disappoint. I see a pair of mating damsel flies on the irises, probably large red damsels. Later on, we see a spectacular dragon fly, about two and half inches long, a broad bodied chaser. It obliges us by staying put long enough for a photograph.
There are many lesser spotted boatmen in the pond. A few weeks back, I thought they might be the nymphs of the larger water boatman, but lack of growth makes me reconsider. I shall keep watching to confirm.

Some of the tadpoles are very large, quite tubby in fact. A lot has been happening to them since they have left the spawn, but most of it is invisible to us. All we can see is that they have grown bigger and globular. They are though growing a skeleton, necessary for limbs and for support on land. They are developing lungs too and a vascular system to go with it. Sex organs are on the way. It is quite a transformation, from a sterile, boneless, gill breathing creature, to a four-legged, juvenile frog over the course of three months. I expect in the next week or so for us to see first tadpoles with back legs.
I see two butterflies: a holly blue and a small white. A sparrow flew by me, so close to my face that I pulled away, as I was writing on the table near the pond. I see two great tits on the plum tree, and just below, by the side of the pond a black and white cat.

The hollyhocks are growing, no flowers for another month, but they are being attacked by voracious snails. The clue is the white slime on the leaves which have holes, and some quite snagged.

Near the wheelbarrow depot, the stately purple irises are in bloom, alongside the pink geraniums (not to be confused with pelargoniums) very like their wild relative, the cranesbill. There’s a profusion of Californian poppies in the small bed by the pond; several visitors remark on their golden brilliance.

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