Daddy’s little pink pawed princess is leaving billets-doux for her bit of rough. He’s a big black tom cat with a feral air and a pair of testicles so huge, he has to swing one leg wide, to accommodate his stride. If his vocal prowess is anything to go by, he has enough to go around. It’s a mercy at least that she pees in the drain outside the potting shed, to advise on the state of play. She was neutered very long ago by a vet in a land far away, so despite his potent miasma, her swain is destined for disappointment.
Primula vulgaris Belarina™ “Pink Ice”
The pond is likewise a disenchantment. In previous years, twenty or more heaving beasties turned the surface into a froggy fornicatorium, with baritone cries of “broughp”. Apparently the “ribbit” with which we are all familiar, is the call of the Hollywood marsh resident. Probably all method actors, they will have their Stanislavski coaches to help them to inhabit their part in the fantasy. I’ve been out every morning to check if any frogs were dogging. Sadly, I am a frustrated voyeur and the live sex show has failed to materialise.
Hermodactylus tuberosus (black widow Iris)
Worldwide, amphibians are a source of constant wonder. Hot countries produce toxic frogs as bright as a summer dress, which advertise a disastrous dining experience to would be predators. Some live by waterfalls where singing signals can’t be heard, so they wave at each other. Around six thousand amphibian species are seriously endangered by Chytrid fungal malady which is wreaking havoc in damp places everywhere. It has been called the worst infectious disease ever recorded among vertebrates. The filthy fungus disproportionately eliminates species that are most rare and specialized, so the vivid, gesticulating critters are more in peril than the common or garden variety. The bully boys that survive anything up to and including being run over by an eighteen wheeled truck, can act as carriers, living through the sickness to pass it on to more delicate specimens, like web-footed Typhoid Marys.
At last, two exhibitionists are to be seen in my patch, nestling amongst a dumpling of spawn between the Iris stems. The male on top has a vacant, innocent expression on his face which belies his amorous intent. The female is busy keeping her nose above water. She looks as if she’s thinking about ironing which needs her attention. I’m worried at the lack of participants in the orgy. I can see that treatment of wild animals in their natural environment is almost impossible and I don’t fancy dumping fungicide in bulk around the garden. Some of our most intelligent scientists are crawling around the Hadron Collider like worms through cheese. Can they take time off to sip another discipline and concoct a frog death cure? Stick to the important stuff, girls and boys, we need a happy ending. Subatomic particles will still be there after you’ve saved the world, or at least the element at risk of croaking.