Wonders in a Shallow Stream

In a shallow stream near Warbler Bridge, multiple wonders of nature were readily visible. There were tadpoles, frogs, fish and Water Striders. Frogs go through the metamorphosis from eggs laid in the water, to tadpoles that live in the water then to frogs that need the water but live on land (breathing air). All the tadpole to frog photographs (and fish and Water Strider) were taken within minutes in more or less a 5-foot x 5-foot section of the stream. Swimming with the tadpoles were small fish which hatch in the water and grow from tiny fish to much larger fish without the physical and functional transitions of metamorphosis. On the water’s surface were numerous Water Striders which also go through metamorphosis in their life cycle. On one sunny morning it was all there in the clear, shallow stream with a muddy bottom.

A tadpole with legs almost emerged but still clearly a tadpole.
Legs have emerged, eyes are moving up but still the face of a tadpole.
The tadpole’s head is starting to be frog like. The bulges where its front legs are forming can be seen.
Its front legs are out, and its face is getting frog like.
This is almost a frog. Its tail is clearly starting to disappear. This was under water but on the edge of the stream. Tadpoles have external gills from 0 to 6 weeks of metamorphosis, and then develop internal gills from 6 to 16 weeks while they are fully aquatic. After an average of 14 to 16 weeks, tadpoles begin to lose their gills and develop lungs to breathe on land. It must have been very close to transitioning to air breathing.
Finally, a frog!!!
Young fish.
A 5-inch fish close to the stream with small ones. Might be the adult version but can’t be sure.
Water Strider with a shadow below.

(From: https://blog.nature.org/science/2017/04/10/7-cool-facts-water-striders-skippers-pond-skaters-weird-nature/) Water strider legs are covered in thousands of microscopic hairs scored with tiny groves. As reported in National Geographic, “These groves trap air, increasing water resistance of the water’s striders legs and overall buoyancy of the insect.” Their legs are more buoyant than even ducks’ feathers. The buoyancy and paddling legs allows striders to be fast. Very, very fast. The National Geographic article reports striders are capable of “speeds of a hundred body lengths per second. To match them, a 6-foot-tall person would have to swim at over 400 miles an hour.” However, their legs are almost useless on hard surfaces.

If you watch a pond’s water striders long enough, you often see two water striders on top of one another. Yes, that’s what you think it is. However, females have evolved a “genital shield” to guard against unwanted males mating with them. The male water striders have coevolved a strategy so that the female is more likely to submit to advances. The male taps the water’s surface in a way attractive to aquatic predators. Since the female is beneath the male, and nearer the water, she will be the one first gobbled up by a fish or other hungry creature. Thus, it behooves the female to submit quickly and not deploy the shield (or “insect chastity belt,” as one reporter put it).

Mating.

As a major segue, the Prairie Dock are blooming in the prairie and savanna as well as many other flowers.

The Prairie Dock is in full bloom in the … prairie.
On the savanna they are almost there. Very dense.
This is a few flowers in a patch of Purple Prairie Clover. There were so many bees, of many types, that there was a very audible ‘hum’ to the whole area.
The prairie and savanna are both rolling spectacles of flowers over the time from early summer to fall. This is the savanna but doesn’t do justice to the experience of being there. The sun is warm, the wind moves the plants and is heard both as it passes one’s ears as well as from the sound of the moving plants, there are colors – greens, white, yellow … and flying birds and insects. Next month will be a different set of flowers and some new plants.

Published by nature4507

I am a retired electrical engineer with many years of working on environmental controls for large buildings. I now spend many hours walking through beautiful parkland and taking photographs of the interesting and wondrous things I see.

One thought on “Wonders in a Shallow Stream

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: