image of tadpoles in the pond

Tadpoles – Saturday 30th March, 2024

It is a warm, sunny day, 15 degrees, with a slight breeze. Yesterday, it was a little colder and felt more so with a sharp wind. I came in then, and found a few free tadpoles, but today there are many more. Nearly all of them are within the earthenware pot, on its side in the pond, half full of water, with a black, amorphous mass of wriggling tadpoles feeding on the remnant of the jelly. So many of them, you can barely see them individually. But some have left the safety of their natal food and are tentatively exploring the wider world, but in micro steps.

Their bodies are ovoid with a whipping tail. They have gills, a gut, a circulatory system, eyes, and the beginnings of a skeleton made of cartilage. They are like an embryo, which must develop a full skeleton, limbs, lungs, early sex organs, and lose their tails over the next three months, on their way to becoming froglets. They begin as herbivores and gradually become omnivores on their way to frogdom.

There is a large pond yet to be explored but nearly all the tadpole action is within the flower pot. There is, though, plenty of spawn not yet hatched, some at quite an early stage in their development. The first spawn was laid on the 4 March and it is from that we are getting our first free tadpoles, but there were about six spawnings over the following 10 days, the last around the 18 March. The first batch took about 25 days to hatch, the rest will come in steps, with all hatched in around 10 days.

Tadpole time are the days when the pond becomes most popular. Soon, they will be all over the pond, wriggling, feeding, attached to plants and to the side of the pond. We have a few newts too, so most likely some newt tadpoles, fewer of them but larger.

The pond water is very green, which means it is full of microscopic algae. A lot of this will be consumed by the growing tadpoles, by the back swimmers and the larvae of damsel and dragonflies as they become more lively with rising temperatures.

There are leaves on the birch, hawthorn and willow. The sycamore has swelling buds but no leaf as yet. There’s blossom on the apple, pear and plum trees. There’s white blossom on the small cherry, the pink cherry is likely to bloom in a week or so. This early development is evidence of a mild winter, and probably of climate change.

The perennial wallflower by the mid gate remains in bloom, and nearby is a tyre with yellow archangel and marigold in flower. The green euphorbia flowers have been in bloom for several weeks, and we are beginning to see bees and other insects around the garden. I hear the screech of the green parakeets and have seen them feeding at our feeders, but mostly I just hear them. Sparrows are common visitors, blue tits and pigeons too.

We are opening the front gate more now that we have a child-gate for it. Our gardening with nature sessions started yesterday, with reasonable attendance.  You never know who will come.

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