Wednesday, 1 June 2016

#30DaysWild Day 1: Pond dipping at College Lake

Day 1 of #30DaysWild has finally arrived and it's turned out to be a damp, drizzly sort of day.  We'd decided to do some half term pond dipping at College Lake and weren't going to be put off by a bit of rain. 
College Lake through the gloom
It was perfect weather for the slugs that were making the most of the damp conditions and were out in force all over the paths around the reserve.
The slugs were out partying around College Lake and this one was enjoying
a field mushroom that had appeared in the meadow.
First the kids had a go at sweeping their nets through the pond, collecting all sorts of little beasties and quite a lot of mud, that they put into their buckets.

Then they inspected their finds, separating the creatures from the mud and trying to identify everything. Once the mud had settled they soon found all sorts of things swimming, wriggling and darting around in the water.

So what did they find lurking in the depths of the pond ...
Female smooth newt
Male smooth newt

An immature newt (sort of a newtlet) called an eft

Caddis fly larva - they construct this elaborate case out of whatever they
can find, such as weed, stones and twigs. You can see the larva's head sticking
out of its case on the left
Great diving beetle larva - a ferocious carnivore that will eat almost anything
it can catch with their large jaws. They stick their tail out of the water to
breath air
Dragonfly nymph - another carnivore. Dragonflies may spend several years
as nymphs before they emerge as the adult winged form.
The dragonfly nymph decided it fancied caddis fly larva for lunch!
There were also pond snails, leeches, water boatmen, pond skaters, freshwater shrimp and lots of tiny wiggly worms and minute creatures. We found one water boatman that was quite unusual as it was almost transparent with a red spot on its back, where all the others were black. Maybe it had just changed its skin and not darkened yet, or perhaps it was some sort of albino. Anyway, it was certainly a bit different.
Unusual colouring for a water boatman
We had a better look at some of our finds under microscopes and using magnifying glasses.

When we'd finished we walked back through the woods and had a look under logs, where we found newts, common frogs and common toads.

Common frog

Smooth newt
A really fun start to 30 Days Wild ... it would be nice if the weather improved a little bit before the end of half term though!


  1. Loved reading your post this morning, thank for you sharing your wet and wild day with us, and the great pictures of all those weird and wonderful creatures! Catherine at College Lake :)

    1. Thanks Catherine - it was a great way to kick off 30 Days Wild!