I named only one of the tadpoles. The one most easily recognised. The largest of them all. I called him Ovid, because I considered it likely he would be the first to metamorphose. I watched him devour a couple of the baby Gambusia that were in the pond for only a few days. I felt a paternal pride that he had so effectively turned the tables on this intruder introduced to his environment. He (or she) was a voracious eater and looked likely to be a froglet in a couple of weeks or so.
Today was another very hot day, made worse by humidity unusual for round here. At 21:15 it was still 32 degrees after a high this afternoon of 42. As has been my praxis lately I was sitting outside with a can of Coke zero quietly observing the frog pond which I have adorned with another water plant to give the polliwogs some shade. A plant of the Canna family, with red variegated leaves. It began to rain, a pleasantly cool shower which unfortunately did not last long. Still I sat.
Only one frog came out. Fluffy I think. He is larger and rounder than the other two. We sat quietly regarding each other for some time. He sidled along the edge of the pool and positioned himself by one of the plants. A sudden movement and he was into the pool like a flash, and as quickly out again, struggling with something very big in his mouth, out of which protruded a long grey tongue that flapped about. No, not a tongue; a tail!
I leapt up and reached over, grabbing him with a vague hope half-formed of making him drop his prey, which would of course flop back unharmed into the pool never to be caught unawares like that again. A valuable lesson learned and no harm done.
“Fluffy! What have you got there?”
“Gnummphing” said Fluffy, making a valiant effort, eyes bulging, to swallow the wriggling struggling mouthful.
Gulp. The tail was gone. Fluffy relaxed. He sat in the palm of my hand with a smug, self – satisfied air. I could see his distended stomach pulse as the tadpole inside continued to protest its imminent digestion. Swallowed alive. What a fate! I regarded my little green, cold-blooded friend with a mixture of horror and admiration.
“That was Ovid! He was almost a frog! He had little back legs!”
Fluffy regarded me calmly. This was a matter of complete indifference to him. It had been a meal. That is all.
I put him down. There was no chance of a rescue. Never had been. Poor Ovid had been doomed from the moment Fluffy leapt. I had somehow convinced myself that the smaller tadpoles would be the ones to get caught, leaving the three or four largest at the very least to reach froghood. And after all, with the odds the way they are in nature, that would not have been too bad a result out of the thirty or forty I had originally brought home.
Now I wondered if any would make it at all. I could still see at least half a dozen or so nosing around the pool. Perhaps I need to remove them to a more protected environment, and let the frogs go back to chasing insects. I shall have to think about that.
Fluffy sat for a while where I set him down, and then it seemed he suddenly realised he had filled his quota for the evening. He was full. No need for further prey this night.
Silently he vanished.
Later, I found Gollum was out. I grabbed the camera, and caught a few shots. I think he may be a Motorbike Frog. He is not quite as startlingly daubed as the Spotted Thigh Frog, apparently a close relly or even subspecies of MF.
(Midnight update) He sure is a Motorbike or STF. He has just started calling. The sound echoes up the bathroom floor drain.