I put a cheap solar powered pump into the pond. The solar panel that drives it I have placed on the carport roof. It is only a little pump, rated at 400 litres per hour at zero head, so it should give 250 litres an hour with the riser and fountainhead which I suspect is still rather optimistic. The weather being what it is at present it certainly goes, however, and so far easily matches the mains powered aquarium pump I was using. At least when the sun is shining which it certainly is at present. This morning the little fountain kicked into life at precisely 0741, a little hesitantly at first until the sun cleared the branches of the apricot tree. Then it pumped away like mad, aerating the pond nicely.
With a little Kiwi ingenuity, I have turned it into a filter pump. I simply placed it in a container, packed Orlon staple (as used for stuffing cushions and sleeping bags) around it loosely, added a layer of metal insect screen to prevent creatures getting into the Orlon -and to stop the filter media floating away – weighing it all down with a couple of stones. The Orlon collects the crap and prevents it from clogging the tiny foam filter in the pump impeller. I can clean it out weekly. Otherwise I would have to clear it hourly.
I have been gravely concerned for the tadpoles. Last week I spotted one of them that was almost a frog. The most endearing wee froglet with a tail. Today I could not see it. When the sun was shining into the pond I counted only five tadpoles left this afternoon, all with back legs, though all of smallish size. As I suspected, the adult frogs seem to be going for the larger tadpoles. Even allowing for a couple having managed to evade my highly honed observational skills, there must be considerably less than ten left in the pond. I tried to address the frog feed problem by rounding up some more Gambusia to place in the pond as an alternative snack. I did not want any big ones, as I have no idea how they would interact with tadpoles, whereas I do know that the taddies will eat smaller fish. So I culled out a jarful of juvenile Gambusia from Police Pools, and introduced them to the pond. They seem happy enough, and so do the tadpoles. We shall see if the frogs find them more attractive, or easier to catch. Nonetheless I do not hold out much hope of shepherding the tadpoles all the way to adulthood.
This evening Eric came out first. I could tell it was him (or her) by the fact that he tolerates my presence much more than the others. I can get closer to photograph him and he even lets me pick him up without panicking. So I had a chat with him and suggested he might like to try his luck fishing rather than tadpoling. He sat quietly and inscrutably on my hand as I lectured him and after I put him down on the side of the pond he seemed to sit and ponder for a while, no doubt thinking carefully about what I had told him about eating creatures with whom one shares a generic, and perhaps even a specific, name. I told him that in this age of threatened species and declining populations, all Anurans should stick together.
After giving it some considerable and no doubt careful consideration, he leapt into the pool after the first thing that moved and came out with something smallish in his mouth. It struggled. He pushed it back into his mouth with a foreleg, and swallowed. I did not see clearly what it was.
“I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that one” I told him.
I watched a while longer as he waited patiently for the second course to arrive. Finally I finished my chai latte and said goodnight.