Several years ago I took a lunchtime walk around the lakes on the Science Park in Cambridge and the banks of one of the lakes to a depth of 5-10m was absolutely jumping with froglets. These little guys must have just emerged from the shallows en masse, there were literally 10’s of thousands of them and when I stood still it looked as though the grass was moving. It was an amazing sight.
I took another walk around the same lake this summer and the frogs were there again, not in anything like the numbers the first time I saw them, but big numbers nonetheless. They were the young of the common frog, Rana temporaria. Fortunately, this time I had a camera with me and I managed to get a picture of this little chap. As you can see, he was tiny, smaller than a clover leaf which was approximately 1cm across.
A tiny froglet seeking cover under a clover leaf
Scarce chaser in flight, reflected in the lake
The timing of my foray was just as the rains were subsiding and several species of darter, hawker and chaser dragonflies were busy hunting over the lakes, including this adult male scarce chaser, Libellula fulva. I’ve decided to try to photograph dragonflies in the act of doing soemthing other than sitting still and this the first shot I have of one flying. Not brilliant, but OK for a first attempt!
Because the Science Park is all neatly kempt and the grass cut regularly it’s not the best place to see wild flowers. So it was a pleasant surprise to see an orchid lurking in the undergrowth close to the lake where the blades of the grass cutters can’t reach.
Common spotted orchid – Dactylorhiza fuchsii
I think of all orchids as being terribly exotic, but this little beauty is relatively common, as its name suggests. It’s found over nearly all of the UK and thrives on a wide range of habitats including marshy wetland, chalk downland and also colonises wasteland. It’s a favourite food source for day flying moths and gets its name from the purple spotted leaves which are clearly visible on this flower.
I love the name froglets! Are scarce chasers a variant of a dragonfly? Thank you again Finn! Sharon
The scarce chaser is indeed a species of dragonfly, the taxonomy is: Insecta (class), Odanata (order), Anisoptera (suborder), Libellula (genus), fulva (species).
Thank you so much Finn for taking the time to answer my question. I really appreciate it. And oh yes, now I remember you mentioning that you had taken heaps of photos in the summer and will be sharing with us over the next few months. You really did take LOTS of photos! Have a great day!
Hello Sharon, I’ve still got some more summertime posts to go, then I’ll have to get disciplined about heading out into the cold to get some winter ones 😦
Oh tell me about it Finn! I’m not so keen these days to bundle up and lug the camera out in this weather as when it was warmer! But I certainly look forward to what treasures you will unfold to us even in the waning autumn and approaching winter! Brrrrr!!! 😀 To life that continues in all seasons!!
I’ll raise a glass to that!
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What a wonderful idea with you and your absinthe!
Your froglet tale reminds me of a little excursion I took as a child when visiting my grandparents…I came back to their house with a jar of tadpoles and poured them into a little pond that my grandfather had dug in the backyard…and my grandmother complained about the forthcoming frogs for months and months!! Anyway…thank you for the story and the nice photos.
Hello Scott, were your grandmothers fears of a plague of frogs realised in the end?
The more I think about it the more I like the absinthe idea 🙂
Good morning, Finn…I don’t know the end of the story of the frogs, only that they drove her crazy for a while…and yes, the absinthe idea is wonderful…but remember moderation, my friend…that fantastic liquid can do some funny things to one’s head! 😉
Message received and understood… common sense and good taste will indeed prevail!
Finn, might the Science Park authorities be open to converting some of that lawn to meadow? The wildlife benefits would probably be great. I’ve just been listening to the bird programme on Radio 4, bemoaning the plight of various birds, especially the Turtle Dove. One bright spot is that some farmers, God bless them, are actually planting hedges.
Hello Robert, the Science Park is already pretty well managed and there are corners of it which are left to grow. I think alot of individual farmers and random other folk do an awful lot to encourage wildlife, but alas, alot of the problems are beyond our control here in the UK. And then of course there’s climate change…
I would LOVE to see tens of thousands of froglets! How wonderful.
They were ace, buzzing around like flies but never more than a few centimeters from the ground.
What a gorgeous orchid!
Yeah, I love orchids. They’re very special.
Finn, a fellow Blogger (Not So Fancy Nancy) needs some assistance in identifying a spider. When I saw her Blog photo and her request for help, I thought of you… Here’s the link: http://notsofancynancy.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
Hello Kenny, I’ll swing by and have a look, but as it’s a US species it may not be one of the European species that I’m more familiar with. Thanks for the recommendation though 🙂
The froglet is adorable! 🙂
What a lovely lunchtime stroll. I absolutely adore tiny froglets and am charmed by your small fellow next to the clover leaf. The chaser in flight is lovely and I, too, feel I’m witnessing something very exotic whenever I see an orchid. How altogether delightful!
It was indeed an hour well spent. It was a sunny day and the air was full of dragons, and the grass was full of frogs.
That could be the beginning of a novel, ‘The air was full of dragons and the grass was full of frogs…’ Not sure where it would go after that, but it’s a splendid start!
I hadn’t thought of that. You’ve just inspired me to seek a state of higher consciousness with a bottle of absinthe and see where the dragons and frogs take me 😉
There’s got to be a book in there!
Ha ha, you’re a brave chap with the absinthe.