In early March I spotted some frogspawn in a slow-moving bit of stream fed only by the lake overflow in our local park. There was some there last year but I didn’t see any tadpoles – I think all the spawn was killed by a late frost.
This year, the spawn all hatched and for about a week all the tadpoles, thousands of them, stayed in about the same place, all wriggling just below the surface. They were well protected by lots of great reedmace stumps. Each day I took the dog to the park, so the tadpoles seemed to get bigger.
Then one day, just after Easter, someone had been into the water at that point, had pulled out a load of reedmace and dumped it on the bank. The water where the tadpoles had been was turbid with stirred-up mud and there were hardly any tadpoles – just the odd one swimming around in a confused state.
On the May Day bank holiday I was back at the water’s edge, looking at where the tadpoles had been, when some guy turned up with about 50 people, mostly children with a few parents, in tow. “I hope you don’t mind a bit of company,” he said to me, “We’ve some to do some pond dipping.”
“Someone has been here recently clearing out the vegetation,” I replied. “There were loads of tadpole here before they did that.”
“Oh yes, that was me. I wanted to clear out some of the old dead stuff so that we could get at the water more easily!”
I felt like drowning him. I haven’t seen any tadpoles there since.