Lunchtime nature walk

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.

27 responses to “Lunchtime nature walk

  1. I love the name froglets! Are scarce chasers a variant of a dragonfly? Thank you again Finn! Sharon

  2. Pingback: Flowers and frogs at Milton Country Park | The Naturephile

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

  5. I would LOVE to see tens of thousands of froglets! How wonderful.

  6. What a gorgeous orchid!

  7. 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:

    • 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 🙂

  8. The froglet is adorable! 🙂

  9. 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!

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