Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Local Wildlife: Tadpoles (and I stand in the middle of a Playa Lake)

Less than a year ago I rode the bike over to Clapp Park to sit by the water for a little while. I feel better near water. I feel better near water that is teeming with life. On this trip, I happened to scare up a leopard frog, a creature I had never seen in Lubbock before. It was a pleasant shock for me.

It seemed an excellent place to sit for a bit. As I sat there, I noticed a lot of activity in the murky water. Tadpoles. Hundreds of tadpoles!

So, I rushed home, set up an aquarium on the back porch, and rushed back to the park to catch a few. Which proved a little frustrating at first. The tadpoles, creatures not known for their intelligence or their swimming ability, proved to be too smart and too fast for me. But I devised an ingenious plan - to drag my net through the mud - and I caught about a dozen of them.

My overall plan was simple: bring them home, care for them, watch them change into frogs, and take them back to the playa lake. But I have run into two challenges.

Challenge 1: The tadpoles are uncooperative. They seem to have no desire to be frogs. There is not a single sign of frogginess in any of them. Not even a bump where a leg should appear. They are all healthy. They love meal time. They get along well with the other fish I have introduced them to, but there is no inkling of metamorphisis.

Challenge 2: The lake is uncooperative.

I rode the bike over there Monday night. I stood in the deepest part of the pond. And I stayed perfectly dry. Not only had the pond dried up completely, but the parks department had mowed the lake bed.

This is what the lake looks like on the app I am using to track my bike rides.

This is what the lake looks like on Google Earth.

This is what the lake looks like when you are standing in the middle of it. I caught the tadpoles near the telephone pole in the distance.

I guess my wife is right. The tadpoles are smarter than me and they know when they have it good. They get bloodworms and algae wafers on a regular basis. Food, temperature, water quality, predators, and evaporation are dealt with by the goofy bike rider, and at least one them must've read enough Thomas Wolfe to know You Can't Go Home Again.

May you find something to feel better near.