The Dance of the Smooth Newt


smooth newt dance

The tadpoles have gathered in the last remaining patch of sunlight in the corner of the pond, the same corner that the frogs gathered in when they spawned.

A male smooth newt stirs up sediment. He’s enticing a female who has been hidden away amongst the pondweed. He starts wafting his tail towards her then upends as if he’s breakdancing. The pair disappear amongst the vegetation.

Dog Violet

dog-violet85ºF, 29ºC, in the sun, 0% cloud, slightest breeze, pressure, 1034 mb, 30.5 inches

Common Dog-violet, Viola riviniana

We refreshed the wood chip on the paths by the raised bed last autumn so we don’t have lots of violets growing like weeds on it this spring, however these have survived in a crevice between the sandstone blocks on the south-east facing side of the bed, so I hope that they’ll soon start spreading again.

Thanks to the close up photograph that I took of our miniature pansies, I now know that the two white dashes that I can see in the middle of each flower – like a little moustache on its ‘face’ – are the lateral hairs, not stamens or stigmas.

Ripples in Time

rippler marks in sandstoneI’d never noticed this fossil ripple mark in a sandstone block on the raised bed until I noticed the afternoon sun shining on it. The block is nearly a foot across.

fossil ripple marks

It’s the sort of feature that gets astrogeologists exciting when they spot it on photographs of the surface of Mars or on the moons of the major planets as it’s evidence of flowing water (or on Titan it could be flowing liquid methane!).

distributary channelIt’s just a guess but I think that the block is now upside down and that originally this was the edge of a channel through a sandbank. If I’m right, the curve cutting through the rock represents the side of the channel, scoured out by a distributary stream in a river deltadelta and the ripple marks show where, nearer the surface of the flowing water, sediment was redistributed to form the ripples.

These sandstone blocks were in the garden when we moved in and I suspect they came from the old quarry in Coxley Valley which is only a few hundred yards away. In the face of the quarry there are several examples of channels cutting through what were once sand banks.