THE most extraordinary thing happened in my pond

THE most extraordinary thing happened in my pond. I found one of my frogs out-stretched on his back, white tummy tip, looking rather like a little person. I asked a friend next morning to bury him and while he had the frog on a shovel, lo and behold, he came to life, somersaulted into the pond and wasn't seen again. Sounds like a miracle but you may have a zoological answer.

Imogen Stuart, Sandycove, Co Dublin:

Frogs, generally the males, hibernate at the bottom of ponds, but I always assumed they did it on all fours rather than on their backs!

During my daily walk on a riverbank I have on many occasions seen a bird, bigger than a wagtail but smaller than a thrush or a blackbird. Its plumage is jet-black and it has a snowy white throat and breast. I have not seen it swimming in the water, but it ducks into the water and splashes about.


Eileen Murphy, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick

It is a dipper (see Another Life for Saturday February, 15th).

We have a small bird with a short tail, very like a great tit, coming to the nut bag. The head is black with small white patches on the side and a white streak on the centre. The underside tends to be a pinky yellow, different altogether from the great tit. Could you identify this stranger?

Phyllis Clarke, killala, Co Mayo.

It is a coal tit, the white streak on the nape is its identifying mark. It is a woodland bird, particularly of conifer plantations and is fairly common all over Ireland.

A robin which has made his or her home in our garden all winter has recently acquired a mate. Is the newcomer a Sliabh isteach (a landless young man who marries a girl with a farm)? I have no trouble discerning the gender of all the other small birds that come to our feeder, but the robin baffles me.

Nick McAuliffe, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

The cock and hen robin look alike and can only be differentiated by physical examination. More than likely the bird holding a territory in your garden was a male, but sometimes females also hold a territory.

Michael Viney

Michael Viney

The late Michael Viney was an Times contributor, broadcaster, film-maker and natural-history author