Backyard blog June 20 2014
June 20, 2014

Hello all, I'm sure you have been wondering when the backyard blog would start flowing. So much good and so much annoying has been happening that I have been off to a slow start.

On the pond front: we had such a severe and long winter that I was surprised to see 3/5 of the tiny baby fishes still with us this spring. They are now getting husky and the runt of the litter has overtaken the others in girth. I suspect that she is a female, as they tend to beef up more than the males. Sorry, they are so small and tend to hide so no shots yet.

One day the toads (several pairs) invaded and many many tadpole eggs were laid. Sadly the next day I came outside to find dead toads scattered around. I could only guess the slaughter was by raccoons. Two years ago when they pulled the tubing apart so that the fish almost all (survived only by Pinky, a misnomer now as he is red and white mottled) of them died. In that case the bodies were also spread around the pond as if to say "we can do this.".

Click on any picture to enlarge it. Click again to REALLY enlarge it.

But here are some photos of the lovefest the day before. You can see the double strands of eggs wrapped in a gel. The male fertilizes them as they are popped out.

A few days later it got warm and they hatched into about a thousand tiny tadpoles.

About that time, to the surprise of all, me and the tadpoles at least, a lithe and lovely northern water snake moved in.

Fortunately the Whitehouse Nature Center agreed to host the little guy. He must have wandered across dry land for days before he found my little patch of water.

About a month later and today the lemmings decided to disappear. Yesterday they looked as if they had only their back legs, but today a good bunch of them appeared to have lost their tails and gained front feet. During the morning they started to climb out of the pond and scramble for the grass. For a while i couldn't walk there for fear of stomping a toadlet. Here's a shot of several - climbing up the mossy rocks to freedom. is a wonderful resource. If you find a picture of something unknown to you, I'd love to see it , but also try your hand at identifying it at

On to July 18

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2014