A Bit of a Palaver in the Pond

Dear Readers, in this past few weeks my boiler broke, the washing machine gave up, and the pond….well, the pond has been refusing to fill up for several months, but I have been trying to pretend that it’s just because we’ve had a hot summer, not much rain etc etc. However, a few weeks ago even I had to admit that something was wrong. A lovely young woman from Women With Waders came out for a look and shook her head sadly.

‘Have you, by any chance, been visited by a heron?’ she inquired.

And indeed I have, as you might remember.

‘Oh dear’, she says. ‘We find that they often stab right through the lining’.

That’s the trouble with a wildlife pond. The wildlife is, shall we say, wild.

Anyhow, on a cold crisp day last week the Women With Waders team turned up, armed with hoses and wheelbarrows and, most importantly, a pump and some shovels.

First step was to empty the pond water into a massive tank so that, although we’d have to top up with tap water, we at least had some of the original stuff. As the water level went down, the level of sludge became apparent. It went onto the garden, where it will weather down into some nice fertilizer over time. Fortunately, it hadn’t yet become anaerobic, because at that stage it absolutely stinks.

And as the water level went down, there they were – 5 or 6 clean stabs right through the lining. It was the heron what did it, clearly. But not just the heron. There were some tiny indentations in the liner: the larvae of caddis flies, who make a casing for themselves out of little bits of twig and stones, are fond of gnawing at the rubber, and can go right through it given enough time. We’ve patched up all the damage, but let’s see how it goes. I see a new liner in my future in a few years.

And then there were the frogs. They were unhappy at being moved, but it wasn’t for long. In the end, we counted 55 big frogs and one teeny tiny little one.

Tiny frog

A wide array of unhappy frogs

It’s not until you see a lot of frogs together that you realise how varied they are, in colour and in size. This lot vary through darkest green, olive, russet and golden. I am relieved to see that they survived the depredations of the heron, because it seemed to me that he had eaten the lot.

The plants were cut back and repotted, and we decided that the bulrushes had been a mistake, what with them taking over the pond and all, so we’ve upped the irises instead. It all looks very neat and tidy.

And I even have a geum!

The frogs were popped back into their new, cleaned up home. They sat around for a minute and then disappeared back to the bottom of the pond. It all looks a bit bare at the moment, so I might have to buy a few pondside plants to give the mating frogs a bit of cover. But it does feel as if things are gradually coming under control again – my boiler is fixed, the washing machine is chugging away downstairs, and soon, the frogs will be singing. Spring is on the way. Now, if I can just get through next week’s audit in one piece, I shall be a happy woman.





13 thoughts on “A Bit of a Palaver in the Pond

  1. Anne

    What a makeover! It is good to get the essentials of life (boiler and washing machine) throbbing properly and now you can enjoy your chorus of frogs. Do you now hope the next heron(s) stabbings will take a while before the process has to be repeated? I wondered about a grate on top of the pool. I have seen this done here to protect the koi.

    1. Bug Woman

      I think I’ll have to do something if the heron comes back, for sure. I’m just a bit concerned about other animals getting tangled up in the mesh, as so many critters stop by for a drink. But let’s see, it’s certainly an idea..

  2. Jo

    Looks great and it will be good not to be faffing about having to top it up it all the time.
    We had a similar problem in our small pond near the house, heron responsible Iโ€™m sure. It had been leaking and weโ€™d been doing little patching repairs for a couple of years. We decided as we had now made a really large wildlife pond at the bottom of the garden that we would fill in the little pond, quality new liners being so expensive.
    We emptied the water and transferred a couple of hundred frogs to the new pond which was very satisfying. We then filled the hole with heavy reclaimed pieces of rubble. Exhausted, we left the filling in with small stuff and soil until the following day. However overnight, the frogs found their way back and were crouched amongst the rubble no doubt wondering where the water had gone. We had to move all the heavy rubble (and frogs) all over again!
    Frogs and much more thrive in our big pond now but I have mixed feelings when seeing the heron visit.

    1. Bug Woman

      Oh, that made me laugh about the frogs. I’m glad they’re settled into their new home now. And yes, herons are magnificent but it seems an unfair competition when they are gobbling up the frogs. Let’s see what happens this year…

  3. thetinypotager

    Loved the photos of the frogs ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll have to watch out for Herons with our stream liner, as we do often see them flying low over our house … although they’d have to make it past the kids first … ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Bug Woman

      Herons seem to be surprisingly bold, but I suspect it would take a bold one to face down some human children. I did see one see off a full grown male mute swan once though…

  4. Toffeeapple

    What a wonderful sight – all those Frogs together – and doesn’t your pond look neat now?
    I can sympathise about your boiler, I had been one night back from hospital when mine totally died and trying to get a plumber to come and replace it was so difficult. In the end I spent 14 days at my partner’s house before a new boiler was put in. All is toasty now!
    My washing machine is 24 years old and the only things it has had replaced are the motor brushes. I am hanging on to him!

    1. Bug Woman

      Your washing machine definitely sounds like a keeper! I’m sorry you haven’t been well though, and what a time for your boiler to give up the ghost…I think they know when the most inappropriate time for a breakdown is.

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