Time for a spot of pond dipping. As a child we did this all the time, though it wasn't such an organised activity as the term 'pond-dipping' suggests; we just went out with our nets and jam jars and fished for tiddlers.
…. The surface of the water is alive with activity, another good sign. Mayflies are here, as are dozens of whirligig beetles, whizzing insanely around like dodgem cars, but never actually crashing into each other. Peter nets some and we take a closer look: the black shell appearing almost silver, as if a small drop of mercury has been applied to its surface. The next pass of the net produces more treasures, which are swiftly transferred to a white metal dish, of the type we used to see in doctors' surgeries….
Meanwhile, Daisy and Charlie are catching fish by the netful: tiny silvery creatures rather like miniature whitebait. A closer look reveals three small spines -- sticklebacks, of course. We explain the stickleback's extraordinary life cycle to the children -- how the males make a nest and look after the young -- but they are more interested in catching even more fish. These include a few browner individuals without the spine: minnows.
Stickleback and Nest, F. Whymper
Freshwater and Marine Image Bank, Washington University
Wild Hares and Hummingbirds Stephen Moss
*Also known as grindylows, greenskinned water hags with long hair and sharp teeth, especially in the north; possibly a throwback to the lake-dwelling monsters, Grendel and his mother, in the Old English poem Beowulf. In Kevin Crossley-Holland's translation, when Beowulf dives into the lake,
"the seething water
received the warrior. A full day elapsed
before he could discern the bottom of the lake.
……vindictive, ravenous for blood, …
Then she grasped him, clutched the Geat [Beowulf]
in her ghastly claws;…"