I head for the pond to see if there are any signs of life. The water is very low and the pond floor has dried out around the edges. I notice several heaving black masses in the water; they are tadpoles or ‘polliwogs’.
The latter name for the larval stage of the frog is derived from the Middle English, polwygle, made up of the same pol, ‘head’ and wygle, ‘to wiggle’ – an accurate description for these sperm-like beings.
They find safety in numbers, save for a handful of brave explorers.
Tadpoles are the aquatic young of frogs, toads and newts and they provide a fascinating glimpse of past evolution. The first amphibians evolved from fish ancestors 300 million years ago. From these early amphibians evolved the frogs, toads and newts we see today.
I notice several mounds of lifeless black bodies lying on the dry edge of the pond. Motionless, a gourmet meal awaiting the heron I frequently see here.
I climb the fence to get a closer look. One tadpole makes a half-hearted wiggle. I gently lift it along with a few others and place them in the water. To my amazement they spring to life and wriggle and dart around. I work my way around the pond, watching my step, and move several hundred more into the water, or create channels so that the water reaches them. They swim about happily and seem none the worse for their adventure.
I head through a wildflower meadow and spot a young oak tree, just six inches tall, in amongst the greenery. I imagine many years from now a magnificent oak standing here. I make a note to chart its progress.
I follow the River Clywedog in the direction of Esless Park and into another meadow. A leveret, spooked by my dogs on the other side, bounds out of the tall grass and nearly collides with me. He veers off back into the grass with inches to spare.
I head home through the car park and see a family of rabbits crossing into the field, one at a time. No safety in numbers here when they are out in the open.