Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Water Shortage

Six weeks ago, Blue Jay Barrens was experiencing a record flood event.  The rain creating that flood was the last significant rainfall for this area and the pond has shrunk to almost nothing. 

Ground water levels are still plenty high, so some water is entering the pond from the intermittent spring.  This is not nearly enough to replace what is lost through leakage and evaporation.

Leafless dogwood branches clearly show the level of high water.  During the flood, Wood Frogs laid clusters of eggs in the now exposed branches. 

The pond is low enough that the rush stubble left to receive salamander eggs is now sticking above the water.  Fortunately, the eggs have long since hatched and are not in danger of being left airborne.  If the water level falls a couple more inches it will be shallow enough for the Raccoons to wade through the middle hunting for food.  That usually means the end of most tadpoles and other small pond creatures.

This year’s crop of rushes is already up and going.  These plants actually do their best when the water is shallow.

The Whitetail Deer are obviously spending a lot of time around the pond.  The winter herds are breaking apart and I’m seeing the deer individually or in small groups.  It won’t be long before the tracks of fawns begin showing up with the others.

As the water level drops, crawfish deepen their burrows to keep in contact with the water.  The excavated material forms small mounds on the exposed pond bottom.  The pond leaks because the soil does not contain enough clay to stop the water from seeping through.  The water wouldn’t drop so rapidly if there weren’t so many crawfish burrows giving unobstructed channels through which the water can quickly escape.

Amphibian larvae must hurry through their metamorphosis and become land dwelling creatures before their watery home disappears.  External gills make it easy to separate salamander tadpoles from those of frogs.  In order to survive, this guy must develop legs and lose the gills before the pond goes dry.

Wood Frog tadpoles have done well so far.  If we get some rain to boost the water level, these tadpoles should have time to make the change to little frogs.  Unfortunately, the long range forecast doesn’t look favorable for precipitation.  April is just not living up to its reputation of being a month of showers.


  1. Well this surely isn't the first year you've experienced this. Have the other winters been wetter ? In good years what is the summertime condition of the pond ?

    There appears to be quite a bit of algal growth in that pond and I highly doubt you are a user of chemicals which would create a nutrient rich situation. I remember Plant Health Care (PHC) had a good pond inoculant in which beneficial bacteria would clear up and disgest many of the nutrient which allow algal to prosper.

    Over here in Sweden a company called Watreco has a water device that circulates water through concentrated high pressure vortex and creates a loosely bonded water molecules and more oxygen into the mix. Nothing but physics and it works great.

    Nice story again Steve.

  2. Very interesting. It's amazing how the water creatures can manage to return after a drought. The tadpoles bring back memories of childhood. :) Very nice post.

  3. Thanks Kevin. The pond usually goes dry around the first of July. The algae is fueled by the decomposing plant stalks from last year. Warm weather got he algae growing much earlier than normal. That, combined with the low water level, is why things look so algae dominated now.

    Hi Lois. There are a lot of snails and other water creatures that just settle down in the mud and wait for the rain. It doesn't take them long to become active again once the water returns.