Whist Covid has wreaked havoc on the world, wildlife has bounced back and people have turned to nature for relaxation and freedom. Whether it was listening to a blackbird or watching butterflies flying over wildflowers, people have took comfort in nature and want to protect it.
When I’m older and telling people of my time during the pandemic, part of my Covid story will be about tadpoles; of our pond and how we spent hours watching them grow from their jelly-like substance floating on the top of the water, to their epic exploration as they climbed out of the pond and hopped on to their next journey.
At the beginning of March pre-lockdown, I went on my Duke of Edinburgh Expedition, when I returned Dad said there was a surprise waiting for me in the pond. Overnight and actually over the next few nights we discovered more and more frogspawn had been laid.
As lockdown started to kick in, our pond pilgrimage became more and more exciting. We were continually staring into the pond, a position our neighbours found most amusing! Just like any proud parent, my Mum became so obsessed that she kept an album, named ‘frog file’, on her phone, dedicated to their transformation.
At first, all you can see is their jelly-like eggs, with tiny black dots. Later, they turn into comma-shapes as the unhatched tadpoles develop and break up a bit and spread.
Through April and May we watched them swim alongside other resident pond dwellers, emerging damselflies and dragonflies, water boatmen, pond snails and water fleas, whilst their more developed ancestors checked into the pond and hopped around the garden.
What a privilege to observe every single stage; as their back legs developed first, then front legs, then the tadpole’s tail shrunk and its body became less rounded. They also develop lungs and eardrums and apparently, during the transformation process, the tadpole switches from feeding on algae to becoming carnivorous. We did note how clear the pond looked, as they munched their way through all the algae.
We stuck an action camera in the water and they didn’t seem phased. They don’t even know it but our tads are famous – they’ve been on Blue Peter, Springwatch and all over social media. The final stage of the process, when the mature tadpole morphs completely into adult frog form, is very quick, taking just 24 hours and for some, it was time to leave. Mum’s a bit gutted. But I’m sure they’ll be back next year laying the next generation, after all there will be 3 ponds to choose from by then.
So, here is my frog vlog, worthy of a nature documentary award, obvs!