Tuesday, 3rd February 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
It's hard to believe that in the next month or so the pond will come to life with a chorus of frog croaks. It's a good time to clear up the surrounding vegetation while things are quiet. I pull up a clump of grass that has grown in a matted sheet, trailing into the water. There's a frog hidden in there and it hops off (not as energetically as the one in my animation) into the pond.
The smooth newts will be active soon too. Their egg-laying period extends into the summer. They probably time it so that the young newts will have a supply of small tadpoles to eat.
Two females were bedded down in the grassy blanket. They slither off. Both are plump; they look ready to start laying their eggs.
It's wonderful to come into contact with such an extraordinary creatures in my own back garden. As a boy I was fascinated by dinosaurs (still am) and, for me, the newts have a prehistoric look; there were newt-like creatures living in the primordial swamps long before the dinosaurs appeared on earth. As present-day reality seems a bit too subtle for my animation skills I decide to draw a prehistoric relative of the newt; Pholiderpeton, an amphibian the size of a crocodile that lived in the coal swamps of what would one day be West Yorkshire some 300 million years ago.
Here's a preliminary skeleton animation: what is that back leg doing?! Hope I can put that right in the final version. A little touch I couldn't resist putting in is a slight flick of the end of the tail as the creature swings it to the left. I like that.
As usual, press the 'refresh' button on your browser to replay the animations.
Richard Bell, firstname.lastname@example.org