Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blurry Pictures of Indistinct Fish

Steven Strawn waterlily with Safety First (sarasa comet) and Thor or Big Olaf (red comets)

Sorry, folks. This is all I've got. Darn fish won't sit still or come up to the surface to be photographed. And the water's been very murky of late. Still, for the very interested, here are some pix of our pond's inhabitants.

I had the most luck photographing the baby orange fish Penelope, who is oddly fearless, and the sarasa comet Safety First. When I first introduced SF to the pond, he was the last to leave the plastic bag he came in and had to practically be poured into his new home (hence the name). Now he swims over to check things out at the least sign of disturbance, nibbles my toes affectionately (okay, that's probably hunger, not affection, but let's just pretend) and has even let me stroke his dorsal fin! What a great fish!

Safety First, who belied his name to become one of the pond's most intrepid explorers

Penelope was the second baby fish we spotted (after Pearl, who has been worryingly AWOL). She's got a light orange splodge down the length of her back, with a white head and tail. None of the grown ups have quite this coloring nor anything like this pattern. I can't help but wonder if some of our pond plants didn't bring a few hitchhiking fish eggs with them when I bought them.

Baby Penelope, who doesn't really look like any of her possible parents

Penelope's odd enough, but some of the other younguns... We've got a dark browny-orange fish with two big grey splodges on its head (as yet unnamed) and one or more dull taupe fish that lighten toward the tail and have black tips on their sheer fins. These in particular don't look like comets at all--they look like some completely different species. Where could they have come from?

A particularly egregious (and now highly doctored) photo of the back end of one of the mysterious brown baby fish

I was (sort of) able to finally capture a shubunkin, which are curiously mottled blue-grey fish. Not sure if this is Spooky or Crazy Eye--they're so elusive that I haven't learned to tell them apart.

A shubunkin and a red comet

And, after several months, I finally got a picture of Bob-or-Lynn, the two goldfish we got from Bob & Lynn at Draco Gardens. I eventually realized that you can tell them from Thor & Big Olaf because B&L are orange on the top and irregularly white on the bottom, while T&BO are orange all over. The difficulty, of course, is convincing them to roll over so I can see their bellies. You can definitely see a white splodge on the top goldfish here, so it's either Bob or Lynn.

Bob-or-Lynn and a friend

The first creatures to move in to the pond were the tadpoles--hundreds upon hundreds of them. We've already gone through several generations, which start out minuscule, like the one below: smaller than a peppercorn. They eventually become scores of tiny, adorable baby toads, and then I'm not really sure what happens to them, because we don't have as many adult toads as one would expect. I'm hoping that Claude, our resident 3-foot ribbon snake, doesn't have anything to do with it.

Tiny tadpoles love to rest on my feet and legs--perhaps they like my mammalian warm-bloodedness? They're cute, but they tickle.

Sometimes the fish congregate together in big groups, but they usually disperse rather quickly.

A cluster of goldfish

6-legged Pond Dwellers
To my surprise, I've discovered that bees seem to really love water hyssop (Bacopa sp., probably B. monnieri). Given all the bad news on the honeybee front these days, I think I'll buy some more of this stuff and give our melliferous friends a nice lakeside buffet. Also, it seems to be harder to drown water hyssop (and clover fern) than it is to drown creeping Jenny and aquatic mint, both of which have been relentlessly whiny since the heavy rains a couple of weeks ago.

Three bees were busy sipping nectar until I whipped out my camera. Then all but one fled. The last one is snuggling up against a stem (above) instead of in a flower. Good luck spotting him.

The other first and most enthusiastic of the pond denizens have been dragonflies and damselflies. I've been amazed at the diversity of colors--mostly electric blues and this lovely neon burgundy, a color I've never seen in dragonflies before.

My camera didn't really do justice to the jewel-like intensity of this dragonfly's coloring. He's a beauty.

And just this morning, this incredibly bright crimson fellow took possession of a Thalia stem and chased the others off.

We've also seen one or two bright green ones and green-headed damselflies with bright blue tips on their tails.

More Steven
And another picture of gorgeous waterlily 'Steven Strawn'. Because I love him. Our camera can't seem to quite capture his unique strawberries-and-cream coloring--he's more red and less pink than this picture would suggest.

'Steven Strawn': not that pink


Bob said...

We have fish named after us, woo hoo. I somehow feel special and warm all over. I also know of a lizard, horse, several dogs and a cat named after me. Bob is a great name I guess.

I hope the lotus is doing well. We have had plenty of blooms this year.[some years are better than others] If there is one open when we have visitors, it is THE show piece of the garden. It seems people just can't take their eyes off it. I so badly hope you get a bloom. Bob--the human

Bob said...

I'm back. I looked back through a few posts. Wow, what a great job you guys have done on your pond. It looks really good with the sand stone and the patio gives it a one of a kind look as some ponds look like a lot of other ponds if you know what I mean. You guys are real work horses.

Lyn and I went to Alaska on our 30th anniversary at the end of May and I just flat forgot to check back in here until I seen your post on my blog. Now I have it on my favs so that won't happen again. It's sad to be computer illiterate.

Elgin_house said...

Hey Bob! Congrats on the anniversary! I hope you saw lots of lovely things in Alaska! Tell Lynn we said Hi to her, too.

Thanks for the compliment on the pond--we've still got a lot to do (and a lot more rock to buy--still. It's kind of dragging along) but we're getting a lot of enjoyment out of it, all the same. And I'm surprised at how interested I am by the fish. I really thought of them originally as movable scenery, but now I love checking in on them and seeing how they've grown (and multiplied!)

I've got some bad news on the lotus front--I don't think it made it. Everything else you gave us is alive, but the nicest thing--the lotus--doesn't seem to be, much to our chagrin. I think I planted it too deep too early--maybe I should have put it on the marginal shelf for a few weeks before lowering it to the bottom of the pond. We got some lovely blooms out of the blue pickerel, though, and the red-stemmed Thalia and the bulrushes have been putting on size steadily, too. So your legacy plants have made a huge difference to the pond.

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