pond life & other updates


Robin in the roses. (4 May 2020)

Life abounds in a dizzying degree of diversity.  As usual, the robin rules the roost – and yesterday dive bombed me upon arrival, so close I could feel the swoosh of wind as it flew past my head.

Maybe Robin’s testing the limits of visual reality, now that Felicity’s on guard?  Who knows what a bird thinks, but this bird is definitely crafty, full of self-possession and lacks the timidity of other of nature’s beasts.

This photo has Robin holding court, with the ever-flowering cyclamen still in bloom (came into flower way back in early February!), and visible in the thick growth of the damask rose is a red rose bud coming into flower.

CIMG7296Felicity had a bit of a wardrobe make-over.  We switched the denim-styled cowboy shirt for a black & white striped jersey cardigan, complete with red hand-blocked scarf from India and a necklace of red stained mother of pearl shell buttons.

All the better to catch the breeze and add a bit of motion to her otherwise still and steady observance.

We checked the seeds in the growing shed but there’s not much sign of life in any of that.  One little pea shoot was showing itself that I’d seeded straight into the new pea bed, so I have hopes for that one.

Two of the cauliflower plants – the ones I planted in with the giant garlic – have been devastated by slugs or snails.  So it was very interesting on our way out for Fiona – a bottom allotmenteer – showed us the success of her beer traps for slugs.  She had two shallow dishes with beer, and each had about a dozen slugs who had drunk themselves to an intoxicated final ‘sleep.’  We are going to have to try that.  Of course this is a trick I’d heard of before (and from long ago) but I’d never seen it used so effectively.  Watch out slugs!  We’ve got tasty beers for you!


Honeybee on a white borage flower (4 May 2020)

I pre-planted two of the beefsteak tomatoes into the plot – dug a trench and submerged the pots below ground, and then covered with a large plastic tub.  A half-way house for ‘hardening off’ kind of thing.

I also left one of the potted tumbling yellow tomato uncovered, as they’ve been potted and have been given cover for at least a week now.  As there are two matched yellow tomato plants in pots of about equal size, this is a good controlled experiment of sorts.  On verra!


Bug life on the patch. (4 May 2020)

I also planted the second store-bought courgette plant into a larger pot – it had been moved and covered a few days prior, but not repotted.

Hopefully the nights are not too cold for them, but it has been chilly in the evenings – colder than it was mid-April.  Brrrr!

This little insect is a master of camouflage.  Could be a type of moth?  We checked the Butterfly identification website and the closest we could find was a female Scarce Tortoiseshell butterfly…  We think…

CIMG7301copyLife is also abundant and various in the pond.  The big guy got a shot of the myriad of wrigglers and larvae in the water – which are fodder for the bigger forms of life, like the voracious mouths of the tadpoles.  Again, we watch in wonder but aren’t sure what we’re seeing.  Some may be mosquitoes hatching..  Others could be the water-living start of damsel and dragonflies..  What we are sure of is that there are millions of them, and that they’re being devoured by the tadpoles.


Resting tadpoles (4 May 2020)

Don’t let their round cuteness fool you – these tadpole hunt like sharks, and are ferocious in their own little way.  Some of these tadpoles are likely to be toads.  But others among them may well be the tadpoles from our palmate newt.  Newt tadpoles develop front legs first – the toad and frog tadpoles will develop back legs first.  So we’re keeping an eye on their tails.  But no signs of limbs on any of them yet – front or back.  Right now they’re all heads and tails.


Fox on tracks. (1 May 2020)

And speaking of tails, we’re able to identify one of the allotment foxes by his rat-thin mange-eated tail.  Poor beast!  He must be so itchy and scratchy!

Last spring we’d seen a haggard looking vixen who’d clearly been wrung out with the raising of her young.  Not seen her this year – or any pups so far – but we did spot the lone young male with the naked tail slinking his way down the railway path last week.

This daytime photo is eery as there’s no signs of life on the Hampstead overground platform.  There are still trains and haulage travelling on the lines, but far more infrequently than before the lockdown.  And in the meantime the foxes, like the rest of the natural world, are enjoying exploring territory previously inaccessible because of the pervasive presence of humans.  While there are none of us about, the wild world is stretching out and travelling farther.






About smallPaws

A tumbleweed from Canada who's been living in London for twenty or so years.
This entry was posted in allotment journal, diary, veg patch, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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