Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer critters

I rebuilt the pond this spring with the help of my sons. New neoprene liner, the cavity a bit deeper and longer, and then allowed nature to take its course.

It wasn't long before I saw the first frog leap into its water.

The other day I really had to laugh as I saw frogs everywhere and couldn't resist going to get my camera. These four leopard frogs are sunbathing on top of a barley straw planter.

Supposedly where the frogs are sitting, one can plant some sort of flower. I've never been able to keep those things upright. They are designed to help cut down on algae. Given the heat and sun this spring/summer, I could probably have about a dozen or more, cover the surface of the pond with them actually. But no flower garden for me in the pond unless the water hyacinth bloom.

Later in the day, walking through the pathways out in the pasture I caught sight of another visitor. When it landed it stayed long enough for me to get a photo. I loved that this black swallowtail spread its wings so that I could capture it's two orange eyes and blue decoration at its back end. What a beautiful butterfly.

This year the milkweed which some of the butterflies use for special treats, particularly monarchs, have bloomed very early. There blooms are massive and the scent is easily caught on the spring breezes...heavy with perfume.  Hopefully all the butterflies will have enough food. Nearly all our apple blossoms failed this year as well as other fruit - pears, peaches, even hawthorns were affected by the strange summer-in-February we experienced. Thirty degree C temperatures in that month which is usually cold and snowy changed how our vegetation grew this year.
Obviously the change in vegetation did not affect this large leopard frog that we came across on our walk. It's living in the grass, eating the little moths and bugs in the pasture. I tried to catch it and take it to the pond where it would be cool, but it was having none of that. What I love about this photo is the combination of colours - the beige stripes mimicking the dead  brown grass from last year or perhaps this spring and the green echoing the fresh new sprouts. Frog camo is simply amazing isn't it?

And finally I managed to avoid stepping on a tiny snail - the pasture is full of them, and the front and side yards...they fascinate me. When I find them stretched outside of their tiny homes-on-the-back, it amazes me how much of that glutinous body they are able to move outside, slowly moving along a short stretch of property. On the other hand they can instantly withdraw into the supposed safety of the shell when they are startled. Fascinating. If you want to see some great photos of garden snails check out

I guess you've figured out by now I find most of the critters in nature pretty amazing. I do my best to help protect them and find ways to promote the understanding and protection of the natural world and how it works. I hope you enjoy these little essays as much as I enjoy writing them - or even better finding the items to write about! Have a super weekend. Maybe you'll find something unusual on your time outdoors?

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