In this update, let's focus on some of the animals that frequent the pond. We also discovered a new waterfall and found the existing upper waterfall has given itself a new look!
Over the Winter months, countless birds fly in to dine at the feeder or have a pondside drink. But for the first week of January, there were almost no birds here! As you can see, the feeder was full, but there was a problem... a Red-Shouldered Hawk had taken up residence in our yard. He was always somewhere, high in the trees or perched here atop the bird feeder. He'd watch me when I was out there too. And then one day, he was gone... and so were the chipmunks that scurried around beneath the feeder. Coincidence??
Here's a picture taken on the first of March. I had just finished cutting down the high grasses from the previous year and removed the remaining dead cattail and iris leaves. At the far end of the pond, you can see the irises are starting to sprout again... that's always the first sign of Spring here!
Do you remember last year when my son and I were shoring up a large rock here to fix a leak? Well, it seems that our construction project had diverted some water that was flowing behind the rocks to create a new waterfall!! You can see it in the lower left hand corner. I should point out that the minnows found this new waterfall long before we did; they like swimming upstream toward it in the shallow water.
We went up to Buffalo, New York at the end of April to visit family and, while hiking here at the Niagara Junction, I came across a small puddle loaded with tadpoles! Figuring they would likely parish, I came back with the kids the next day to collect them. We brought them back to New Jersey in a plastic bag (left photo), but I wanted them to grow a bit before introducing them to the pond... so we built a tadpole habitat! We fed them boiled lettuce every day and, a month later, they all had legs and were ready for their new home in the pond.
Oh! But before we leave our tadpole habitat, when we dug up the moss for the tadpole habitat, we inadvertently dug up a crane fly larva! (left photo) Once inside the house, the warming ground apparently induced it to wiggle out of its cocoon (which we quickly relocated outside) and fly off.
Okay, now back to the tadpoles. We introduced the tadpoles in the shallow water near where we had discovered the new waterfall. I used a screen to create a restricted area that kept them from wandering out into the deeper waters (figuring that the Comets and Koi would snack on them). Then, over the next few days, we watched as our Buffalo tadpoles climbed up on stones and hopped away.
The kids and I built 2 more bird houses this Spring, and within a week, both had residents... the little one pictured on the right was the last one to leave the nest. Over the course of Spring, we had Chickadees, Sparrows, Wrens and Robins all nesting in our yard!
And at the end of August, the Eastern Ribbon Snake paid us a visit. It slithered out of the rocks by the deck, across the beach area and then disappeared between the rocks underneath the waterfall.
The upper waterfall has taken on a new look this year due to a soft green algae that is growing there. I've never seen this before, but it is growing on the rocks around the upper waterfall and has created a pool of water behind it for the birds to take baths. There are also some small worm-like things that like to cling to the algae... I'm guessing that, if they lose their grip, they become fish food!
Over a year ago, I completely stopped doing pond filtration to see what would happen. I continue to test the water, and everything looks good so it would appear that we have a good ecosystem going here! I wonder if this new algae is a byproduct of not doing filtration?
Well, that's it for this update. In November, my in-laws are coming to visit and we plan to build a bridge over the garden path next to the pond... stay tuned!!!