Sometimes all it takes is a little shove to make you slow down. With the exception of the spectacular skunk skirmish I reported on last month, that’s exactly what I did for a few weeks after my sinus surgery.
That meant no garden weeding, lawn mowing, hedge trimming and all those other delightful chores that come with summer (to say I was not too broken up about this would be an understatement).
I decided to park myself in front of our pond instead for medicinal comfort. The soothing sound of the waterfall and constantly changing patterns of water gave me the distraction I needed from feeling like a truck had run over my nose.
Soon I began noticing some interesting things going on in our little pond.
First off, I gave the goldfish and frogs names based on their personalities (yes, I am a firm believer that animals have personalities just like people).
The fish were baptized (pun intended) with names like Torpedo, Al, and La Petite.
Torpedo is a plump, bright orange hot shot who is constantly chased by Al and La Petite.
I can’t tell if it’s a he or she but it sure looks pregnant. Al is the middle child with striking white markings on his belly, fins and face. He’s the neighborhood bully.
La Petite is just that: small, delicate and pushed away by Al at feeding time (maybe that’s why she is still small).
All three exhibit interesting behaviors, some of which I have no clue what they are about. Suffice to say, if I go hours without seeing all of them I start to worry just like a mom. There are a few predators who would love to have them for snacks like raccoons, great blue herons and kingfishers.
Fortunately, the pond’s location close to the house may save them all from a premature demise!
And then there’s Sneaky Pie. Sneaky Pie is my camera shy green frog who overwintered in the pond. I’m pretty sure he’s related to Kermit the Frog since he’s green and quite the character.
Most of his appearances are nocturnal and brief. He is fond of blowing lots of bubbles, so much so that it looks like he has a beer froth beard (maybe there’s Guinness in the water that I don’t know about).
He’s a sensitive guy, too, just like Kermit. The slightest movement will send him into hiding. He is much less inclined to hang out on the lily pads as opposed to cruising and darting around the shadowy waters.
On the other hand, there’s Ditto, a smaller version of Sneaky Pie, who is a real ham.
He’s out mostly during the day surfing the lily pads, climbing rocks and even jumping into potted plants sitting in the water.
At first, I thought I should have given him another name: hapless and hopeless. He was the worst hunter I’d ever seen. He no sooner would change positions and the bugs would be right behind him or beside him.
He couldn’t catch a bug if his life depended on it (and actually it did).
After a few days of watching total misses, he finally started to get the hang of it. Now it was the insects who were hapless and hopeless.
His supersonic adhesive tongue makes it look so easy. It also helps that his tongue is attached to the front of his mouth instead of the back. With a quick fold out flip and toss to the back of the throat, lunch is quicker than a McDonald’s drive thru.
The first catch I saw him get was a scrumptious horsefly. I’m sure the fly never saw it coming. Personally, I was celebrating since I get bit by horseflies every summer.
One less bite for me is one happy snack for Ditto.
The next capture was almost comical. A clueless lightning bug sauntered right up to a very still Ditto, climbed on top of his head, and became dinner faster than you can say, “Did you see what just happened?”
What’s even more amazing is that the lumpy eyeballs on his head helped push that tasty lightning bug down the hatch.
When he swallowed, they retracted down, helping to shove the bug toward his esophagus (seriously, I am not smart enough to make this up). What an ingenious bit of engineering in the frog world.
Now that I know all these neat things about green frogs, I am putting out my “live rent free” sign for all the frogs in the neighborhood. Kermit’s cool cousins not only entertained me during my convalescence, they taught me just how amazing nature continues to be.
Speaking of amazing, July is National Park and Recreation month. Get out in our wonderful county and local community parks. Parks make you happy and healthy!