Pond Dipping for Grown-Ups

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Young Smooth Newt

Now that it has rained and the ponds are under less stress, we decided to do some pond dipping. The hide pond is really rather young and looks like this:

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We have blanket weed issues meaning that the bottom of the pond is a green yellow colour. The Smooth Newts in this lighter-coloured pond are light-coloured themselves with reddish exterior gills:

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The wild pond looks very different with dark mud lining its bottom:

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The Smooth Newts we got out of this pond were much darker with brown rather than reddish gills:

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Darker newts from the wild pond (and a leech)

Does the colour of the Smooth Newts reflect the colour of the pond that they are in? As a result of today, we think they might but I can’t find anything on the internet about it and so I will check when next in the vicinity of an expert.

One sweep of the net yielded 15 young newts in the hide pond. What a wonderfully large number the pond must be supporting in total. There were fewer in the wild pond, but then there are many more places for them to hide from the net.

A lot of snails in the wild pond and a diversity of other things such as water boatmen, pond skater juveniles, leeches and all sorts of worms and larvae:

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Juvenile pond skater and water spider
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Water Boatman

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My resource for identifying things is this charming book published in 1963:

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However, I have to admit that, however charming, I did also find it somewhat lacking and so have now ordered a well-reviewed field guide which might mean I have a bit more of an idea as to what’s going on when we next pond dip.

There has been more rain today – another 5mm so far – but it has come down in a light drizzle for a lot of the day. It seemed like good weather to get out of and build a dry hedge under the shelter of the left hand copse of trees:

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A dry hedge under construction.

Dry hedges, basically a wall of sticks, provide good habitat for all sorts of things as well as giving us shelter from north-easterly winds, for this is where we have our hammocks:

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Resting from dry hedge construction. Swap the broken hammock with a better one and the mug of tea with a glass of wine and a book and you are getting there.

I cannot finish today without including this wonderful photo of Ma and Pa Woodpigeon from the trail camera trained on the gate that really makes me smile:

Trail camera

 

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