Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mid-Spring Pond

The lack of rain in April had me worried that the pond would go dry before the frogs and salamanders had a chance to morph into terrestrial creatures. Nearly 5 inches of rain in the past two weeks has given the pond new life and made it quite likely that tadpoles will have a good chance at survival. If we can keep adequate water until mid June, I’ll consider it a successful season.

This is one of the reasons the pond loses water so rapidly. Crayfish holes riddle the banks and act as drains for the pond water. It’s getting to the point where I may have to intervene and take some action to insure there is enough water for the amphibians. I still haven’t decided what type of action would be best. Out next drought year will probably have me doing something in the pond bottom.

Despite falling water levels leaving some egg masses hanging out to dry, the Wood Frogs had a very successful hatch. This is a much larger hatch than any I’ve seen in the past. The pond is a man-made creation about 60 years old. For the first 30 years of its existence, it maintained a healthy fish population and probably wasn’t a safe place for frogs or salamanders to reproduce. Being so far from any other water bodies, I believe that breeding populations of the amphibians are something that have just developed within the last two or three decades. If the water supply can be properly managed, I believe the amphibian populations will continue to grow.

The Wood Frog tadpoles periodically surface for a gulp of air. This produces an almost constant pattern of rings on the pond’s surface. As a child I used to sit for hours and watch tadpoles, mostly Green Frog and Bull Frog, popping up the surface. The Wood Frog activity brings back fond memories of that time.

Some of the tadpoles have already sprouted hind legs. I may have to scoop a couple of these into an aquarium so I can keep track of their progress.

The dogwoods form a thicket that is heavily used by birds and other wildlife. When the water is at this level it always reminds me of mangrove swamps. I feel I should be poling a John Boat through this tangle.

Salamander tadpoles are doing well and range in size from half an inch to an inch. These size differences seem to result from diet instead of age. When I’ve hatched egg masses in an aquarium, some siblings are more effective feeders and develop more rapidly. Eventually the larger make meals of the smaller. It’s as though the smaller serve the role of food storage devices just awaiting the time their services are required.


  1. Gotta love it!! I had no idea the crayfish dug holes like that. Wow! This is the first year I've been away from my vernal pool and it's so difficult not to be there to watch the progress. Thanks for this post. Your pictures through the surface of the water are great! ~karen

  2. Thanks, Karen. I can understand missing your vernal pool. Years ago I lived near a wonderful vernal pool full of frogs and salamanders and fairy shrimp. The whole area has since been turned into a subdivision.