The pond is going dry. It’s an annual event, but it happens differently each year. This has been a year of extremes. Excessive rains and flooding in late winter were counter acted by an early April drought. The cycle has been repeated with late April floods and a May drought. Blue Jay Barrens has had only one third of an inch of rain during the last four weeks. For a well drained, shallow soil area, this means drought stress.
Butterflies have moved in to extract minerals and other nutrients from the pond mud. Question Marks have been especially abundant this year.
Swarms of small, colorful flies walk the mud flats and skate across the water. Their colors ripple from yellow and gold to blue and green as they shift position in the sunlight.
I haven’t identified the fly, but I’m guessing it to be a species of Dance Fly. Since there are several hundred of those to choose from, that guess doesn’t narrow it down too much.
This is the extent of the water. At this stage I’m always reminded of African water holes. Exposed mud is trampled and vegetation is beat down by animals coming in to drink. Except for my
the next open water is about 800 feet away.
This pond is heavily used by the local wildlife. Water Garden
Most of these tracks are from the nursing female Raccoon. The water is shallow enough for her to wade all the way across, so she can be a very effective predator.
Unfortunately for the Raccoon, there’s not a lot to eat in the pond right now. The early frog and salamander larvae have transformed into air breathing land dwellers. There are only a handful of tadpoles left and they are transforming very quickly. Backswimmers are the most abundant visible creature, but they’re not much to feed a hungry Raccoon.
Most of the Bullfrogs have either moved out or been eaten. I only saw two and the water was almost too shallow to provide any cover. If we don’t get rain today, the pond bottom will be baking in the sun by the end of the week. I’m already thinking about next year’s salamander season.