Sunday, October 21, 2012

Watching the carp

click photo to enlarge
When we moved into the house where we currently live there was a small pond in the garden. It's the first pond that we've had. At our previous house, and where we live now, a stream acts as one of the perimeters of the plot; water to enjoy that is labour-free. But, we've never had an area of water actually in our garden that we've needed to tend, and the fact is, it's something about which I have mixed feeling. I like the water lilies that grow in the pond and some of the waterside plants around it. I enjoy how it changes with the seasons and offers a fruitful photographic subject for me. I don't mind the wildlife that it supports directly and indirectly - water insects, newts, frogs etc - and the birds that it attracts that drink and bathe there. However, I have never been keen on the seven fish that came with it. These are an ornamental variety akin to goldfish; perhaps some kind of small carp or orfe. I see them as unnecessary and unwanted interlopers, though not everyone of my acquaintance agrees with me on this!

We've never fed these fish - they make their own arrangements - and that will account for the fact that over the years they haven't grown very much, if at all. However, earlier this year they disappeared. We'd earlier seen, for the first time in over four years, a heron in that part of the garden, and we assumed that it had eaten them. I think we were right, or almost right, because a couple of weeks later we saw, briefly, two of the fish. They'd obviously been hiding below the water lily leaves much more than usual, perhaps traumatised by the sight of their five brethren disappearing into a heron's gullet. These two continue to survive - and continue to be rarely seen - though for how long I can't say. There's a part of me hopes that our heron acquired a taste for gold coloured fish and will return to finish his meal. However, not everyone of my acquaintance agrees with me on this!

On a recent shopping expedition we once again called in at Springfield shopping centre and Festival Gardens in Spalding. The carp in the stream and ponds there are typically enormous. As I watched them, glad that I didn't have to look after such Leviathans in our pond, they briefly came together in a small shoal and I took this photograph of them. I'm not immune to the languid movement of these fish as they search for food, the flashing sheen of their scales as the light catches them, or how they slowly appear and disappear as they rise and fall in the dark water. However, I'd much rather enjoy all this in short, controlled spells rather than as a permanent feature of my garden that involved all the attendant work and worry!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On