15 April, 2011

Life returns to Ungardening Pond

Little by little we are refilling the pond, after relining it. And how immediately life returns. The frogs have been with us, their lives lived out hunting crickets in the mulch layer we try to cover the garden in. A blur of movement, and a frog emerges as the watering can shower disturbs him. We heard reed frogs clicking in the afternoon, frogs croaking and raucous toads bellowing at night. Now there are tadpoles, drawing back our kingfishers (waiting on better pictures, but the birds are back at long last)

Ungardening Pond in autumn

This month’s photography contest at gardeninggonewild is themed around light. Deadline is 24th April! I took this photo one autumn morning (before the contest) because the light was magical. After a summer, when the sun was something I moved briskly to evade, this is balm and balsam, illuminating fresh green leaves, reflecting off a new water surface. (But the picture is just a snap for me).

We have teeming hordes of dragonflies. Take time out and see, the more you look, the more varieties there are. The damsels have been slower to return. Standing, as they do, with the tail up, is called skypointing. Done to keep cool apparently, so they say.

Blue dragonflies

Such luminous glowing peacock blue beauty. And what big eyes you have, my dear!

Blue dragonfly

Meredith from Greatstems writes on the circle of life. We gaze down thru the pond water, to see a large frog almost camouflaged, and he devours a land snail, which went a little too far into the water. And they will each, in their turn be devoured by the water snails. Hope they are in there somewhere. We tided them over in the baby baths, but haven’t seen any in the pond yet??

Circle of life

The largest is the Blue Emperor, but these fat red ones are the most striking.

Red dragonfly

So too the wagtails have resumed their promenade along the shores of the ‘lake’, collecting dinner. Taking time out for a really thorough cleanse and polish.

Wagtail bathing

You can almost hear him saying Yee-hah as he dives in.

About to go under ...

Nothing is still, except the water drops, frozen in motion. Every feather on the bird in blurred motion.

Still water

Finally the next generation of the Lil Cuss, one of our pin-tailed whydahs, before he grows the long tail and the crabby Ruler of the World burden it carries.

Young pin-tailed whydah

At the end of a long hot afternoon, Spirulino’s flock line up on the branches, then the shore, in relays for bath time.

Pictures by Jurg, and Diana,
words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,  
near Cape Town in South Africa   
(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. 
Those are my links)


  1. Dragonflys are so elegant and lovely, a favorite bug of mine. I've never seen one so red, though. I'm glad to hear your pond is returning to life, but not as glad as all those creatures are, I'm sure.

  2. How nice, both, the pictures and you!
    Thanks for suporting my GBBT so much!
    Oh, and the pics are great! Sag deinem Mann bitte ein Kompliment von mir!
    Especially the frozen drops, I have to find out how to do it with my new camera!
    And I really love dragonflies, that would be a reason to build a pond!
    Herzliche Grüße

  3. I love that first photo! This is a wonderful look at your wildlife around the pond - lovely story, great photos.

  4. Beautiful pictures. Good luck with the competition!

  5. DD - that photo contest is too ambitious for me. I get the idea, but not a suitable photo. Hope GGW gets the April gallery up soon!

  6. aloha diana,

    for some reason, i always forget about doing the photo challenges..i'll have to join sometime...love all the dragonfly photos, they are great macros and a nice fit to the challenge, thanks for sharing

  7. The dragon flies we have round here are pretty unpleasant to look at but your red one looks brilliant. I wish we had them.

    Our damsels are lovely though.

    There's a mention on the Boring Blog


    Hope it's ok.


  8. Esther - No, it's not just OK. It is a deeply appreciated reward for the work we put into blogging, when someone links back to us.

    Thank you, for the mention, and one of your typically Esther love-your-writing posts.

  9. Excellent pics of the dragonflies... the red one is so striking...

  10. Diana your pond is such a pleasure...the birds bathing, the abundance of colorful dragonflies keep me longing for my pond to warm up and teem with more life...the photo is beautiful too

  11. I love the photos of the bird bath. Watching birds bath is such a funny sight. I used to watch this all the time at my mother's old garden as she had a shallow streambed for them. Now I see it so rarely but it's a special treat when I do.

  12. That Red Dragonfly is amazing. I love watching birds taking a bath. They really get into it and always makes me laugh.

  13. All of the hard work on the pond was worth it. You must enjoy seeing all the creatures return. I'm afraid I would want to sit there all day, daydreaming and watching the dragonflies, and I wouldn't get a bit of work done!

  14. I would never get any work done around the garden if I had dragon flies to watch. I just get red damselflies if the weather is warm enough in May around my pond. Your photographs are stunning of the little insects.

    I think I might be doing a post on Primula Greensleeves very soon as it has been constantly admired this GBBD weekend.

  15. Those photos of the Wigtail bathing are the best! (The dragon fly pictures are very cool, but I'm kind of a Wuss when it comes to bugs.)

  16. Hi!
    Thanks for crossing the ocean and visitng me at The Maple Syrup Mob. I have just been enjoying your beautiful photographs! I'll try to answer some of your questions; I moderate all comments and would never publish a comment that I find offensive (My blog... my rules ,he he he). How do I reconcile being vegan with caring for 13 cats? I have the choice to be vegan but the cats do not. They are obligate carnivores and need taurine found in mammalian tissue to survive. Dogs, however, are able to be vegetarian....but 13 dogs would completely fill our house!!!
    Glad to hear that you are well again,cats are intuitive little creatures aren't they?
    Anyway....lovely to meet you.
    As we say "Have a nice day"
    Jane x

  17. I love the photos of the Wagtail bathing!
    We only get dragonflies in July and August, they are our perennial visitors, just like the hummingbirds. I look forward to their antics.

    I think using plates as plant saucers is a great idea. And they last much longer. Thanks for commenting on my blog. :)

  18. Oh, Diana, the sunlight in that first picture really is magical. That golden autumnal glow is just beautiful--such a nice change from the white-hot summer sun. I'm so glad to think of you enjoying some respite from the heat for a few months--you and the wagtails and all of your other co-inhabitants.

  19. Ah, the joys of having water - for you and for your creatures! One of the most exciting people I ever met on the family farm on the Limpopo where I often join my cousins for holidays, is an expert on dragonflies and damselflies. What an eye-opener that was! They are unbelievably habitat specific, and there are hundreds of variations on the theme. I cannot see one ever again without thinking of him.

  20. How lovely to watch the wildlife in the pond. You took some very nice photos. You took photos at angles of dragonflies I had never seen.

  21. Dear Diana, Life is returning to our pond, also, but after a long, cold winter. I just wish I could capture it as you do. Your photographs get better and better. P x

  22. I wish I had the space and dedication to create such a pond and ecology (is that the right word?) that goes along with it at my place. I can heard the frogs and would love to sit there are watch the dragonflies and kingfishers. I am so glad the pond is filling up again. Lets hope the leaking problem is now solved.

  23. Hi, Diana. I can picture out everything that's been happening to your pond through your equally beautiful words and pictures. I especially love the first one, although everything holds different allure for me. It is quite refreshing to be able to look at your pictures at the end of the day. Thanks for sharing these wonderful gifts of spring. :)

  24. wonderful wonderful pics and description of wildlife. I have never made a pond - yet. It must be so wonderful to see the frogs and the birds. I have lots of dragonflies at times though. cheer, cm

  25. This pond is stunning. As I sit in my cubicle today, I will wish I were sitting by it watching all the life swarm around it.

  26. Great shots of the Dragonflies, Diana. I have taken a note of gardening gone wild. I may not be ready for the picture competition, but it looks like there are a lot of tips for the beginner.

  27. What an adorable wagtail, and such stunning dragonfly photos! I especially love the red dragonfly.

    Some day I must get a good enough camera for wildlife shots. For now I stick with flower close-ups because I seem to do them best.

    I love that you are a wildlife gardener in South Africa; it sounds a lot more exotic than a wildlife gardener in Kansas!

  28. How wonderful that the life is flocking back to your pond. I love watching birds bathe in my pond, thank you for the info. that damselflies stick their tails in the air to cool down! I'd wondered. Too early for those yet, but lots of marauding water snails and pond skaters. I think the newts have eaten the tadpoles, they have disappeared...

  29. Janet - we carefully moved the water-snails to the baby baths with the water-lilies, but we still haven't seen any water-snails in the pond. Hoping they will return ...


Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.

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