Frogs, Comma, Toad Dash, Spring Period
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, 27th February 1999
JUST THE MORNING to take a cup of coffee out and sit by the garden pond sketching. Three neighbours also have ponds and two of them have had far more Frogs croaking than we have; 'millions', or '20 plus', as opposed to our four. Ours sun themselves at the edge of the pond, reminding me of pool life on our last year's holiday in Greece.
The pond, which is the size of a large double bed, needed major work on it last year. It had got so choked with vegetation that I've seen the hens take a short cut straight across the middle. With a new liner and a few starter plants, it should be back in full production this spring.
It has been a good pond for newts for some years, and today I had my first glimpse of a male Smooth Newt swimming to the surface curling his heraldic banner of a tail.
A pond snail, over three centimetres long, with a witches hat end to its shell, grazed on the algae that grows on the pond liner.
My first butterfly of the year, a Comma, flies skittishly across the garden, but I get a chance to sketch it quickly in watercolours when it settles to sunbathe at the edge of a veg bed.
It flies up into the nearby hedge and rests beneath a hawthorn branch. Its ragged edge gives it a remarkable resemblance to a dead leaf or a flake of bark. It has a white, c-shaped comma on each of its outer hind-wings.
Toads are on the move, we see one casualty on the cul-de-sac leading to the wood.
On an evening stroll to a school re-union I enjoy a different aspect of the Calder Valley, a bright three-quarter moon high in the south throws the irregular clouds into silver-edged silhouettes. The two planets in the west are even further apart than on Thursday and shine out over the lesser lights of Emley Moor television mast. It is a clear night and Dewsbury, spread out across a wide section of the valley sparkles in pin pricks of sodium yellow.
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