Not much of a mystery

The frogs are back. I have not been there to look yet but I know, without even going over the wet grass to the pond in the corner of Oak Meadow. I sit here in our house and look through the window across the field and I am sure. It’s a mystery until you know, then it’s obvious.

We have had the spring equinox, equal day equal night, and can look forward to longer days. The pond in the corner of oak meadow has filled with water –  it has taken all winter for the water to run in from the fields and now it is February full. But watch out! March, the god of war with his spear, tells that it is not all over yet. March can bring more heavy rain.

Little Alfie, came to stay again this week. We played the usual endless Hide and Seek then the eternal Treasure Hunt – children never get tired of the old games especially when internet connection is not fast enough. The Treasure Hunt is the best and it goes like this – little pieces of paper are cut up and clues put on each one. The papers are hidden all over the garden. Alfie was writing the clues this year ‘all gone’ wrote Alfie (now 6 and doing well at school). What did he mean all gone? It was a mystery – what could have gone? The answer had to be in the garden, those are the rules. So, we hunted round but found nothing – well we wouldn’t would we if they had all gone? Alfie would not tell. He won, we lost. But still he would not tell.

I gave up and took Alfie across Oak Meadow and told him how I knew the frogs were back now it is spring. The clue was the heron flying over and I saw it land on the bank of the pond and then stand frozen like a statue on long legs. He was looking for frogs to eat and the heron won’t come to our field pond until the frogs arrive. The heron chicks have hatched in the tall tree nests at the Ellesmere heronry and I imagine that the parents come as far as our pond to get food. They eat four times as much food when they are feeding their young so they must go looking for creatures. They eat fish, frogs, young birds and small mammals like mice. They spear them with their long, pointed beaks. Disturbed by us, our heron flew to the home-made duck pond but he didn’t stay long he could not see anything to eat there.

Alfie showed us the answer to his clue, before he left. He took us to our garden ornamental pool which we have carefully planted with marginal plants and lilies. They are only just beginning to show fresh shoots. Normally swimming in and out of the plants are ten big healthy goldfish. They have weathered the winter hardly moving at the bottom of the pond and this month have begun to be livelier. But as we looked, I suddenly knew what Alfie meant. They had indeed ‘all gone’.

I wonder who could have taken them?

(Adapted from my Nature Notes column)


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