Friday, August 8, 2008

There Is Always a Surprise It Seems

I dropped by the pond yesterday to try to find an unusually large dragonfly I saw a couple of days ago but was unable to get a photograph of. The weather was bright and sunny, but I could see the towering cloud banks looming. Still, it didn't look like any serious rain was likely in the next hour or so and I kept looking for that dragonfly and taking a few shots here and there.

Eventually I felt the rain start. It was just a few drops, nothing serious. I could tell it would probably be one of those sunshine showers we get often in the summertime. Sometimes on a bright, hot day a rain cloud will pass directly over and produce a small shower while the sun is still brightly shining and often the rain does not last long at all.

Immediately I noticed an unusual phenomenon. I've seen it before, but not too often. When the initial drops of rain hit the pond many of them created bubbles that floated on top for a minute or more.
Initially I wasn't overly surprised as I have seen this before to a limited degree. Within a minute or so, though, I was amazed. The shower continued in rather widely spaced raindrops and before I knew it the pond was covered with thousands of bubbles. They seemed to spring up magically.

The whole process only lasted a few minutes. Within maybe 4-5 minutes the shower became a bit heavier and the bubbles began to disappear as fast as they had arrived.

I'm not sure what factors created the bubbles to start with. My guess is that there are several factors that just happen to coincide. For one thing, the pond is not overly large and when the water level is down as it often is during the summer it essentially creates a bowl which is maybe two-thirds full. Also, the pond has trees around 3 sides. These trees and the bowl like shape mean that it takes quite a strong breeze to create any ripples that break the surface. As a result the pond often has a thin sheen of collected pollen,dust, and decaying algae on its surface when we have limited breezes and no rain.

I think the size of the rain droplets were just right to break through and create the bubbles using the sheen much like a soap bubble. And, the lack of any breeze let them float on the surface without breaking. Eventually the increased rain bursts the bubbles and breaks up the surface tension and sheen enough to stop new bubbles from forming.

Whatever the reason, the whole process was amazing and I felt lucky to be there with camera in hand to capture the magic.


  1. Oh interesting and beautiful that it. You explained it well to. It has been so rainy and buggy to spend a lot of time outside here. Our pond is higher than usual which I guess is a good thing for the health of the pond. Do you get algae build up too?

  2. Hey Michelle- It really was neat and I'm not sure a photo can capture how magical it was as they just seemed to appear out of nowhere all over the pond.

    Yes, we get a lot of algae. At one time when the springs were flowing freely the water was much clearer, almost like a big aquarium at times. From the banks you could often see fish in water as far as 100-150 feet away.

    Now, with limited water in-flow the algae builds up more at times. Eventually it can be an area of concern, but luckily it hasn't caused too much of a problem so far this year.

    In small ponds such as this one with a limited water flow the effects of algae on the balance of oxygen and the heat build up from the sun can cause real problems. Excessive algae can upset the balance of the pond and the oxygen carrying capacity of the water leaving the pond more stratified than is healthy for fish and other life in the pond and impeding the natural gradual inversion process that rotates the water in the pond from the bottom to the top. Excessive algae growth, while creating oxygen at one level, may shade the lower vegetation and slow the photosynthesis that creates oxygen at the lower levels. In the worst cases when the excessive algae dies it can consume heavy amounts of oxygen as it decays.

    In some cases sudden extreme changes in the weather or water temperature can cause a sudden inversion of the water in the pond that can be devastating as the dissolved oxygen levels at different depths change rapidly and fish may suffocate from the lack of oxygen.

  3. That is so interesting, Baker! I don't know how you do it! Every time I rest my weary fingers here at your blog, you have a fascinating experience to share.

    I think I want to stay here, just in case I miss something :-)

  4. Hi Baker....what a magical looks so beautiful...tku for capturing and letting us all share...

  5. And we are lucky that you shared it with us! I just love to look at your photos. They make me feel at peace. See ya tomorrow at the photohunt!

  6. Avril - As the title says 'there is always a surprise' - I believe that if I go to the pond I always see something I have never seen before if I look closely enough - This time it just magically appeared it seems

    Cheryl - I wasn't sure it would come through in the photo's with the same impact it had looking out over the whole pond alive with all those bubbles that seemed to come from nowhere

    ladykli - I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was truly an interesting sight.

    Thanks to all of you for you kind comments. They are really appreciated.

  7. Baker, your blog is a little oasis in this city girl's every day life. In fact I've come to love reading about the pond. You describe everything so clearly that it brings back vivid memories of fishing and observing things around my grandpa's pond on his farm in Missouri.

    I am really starting to miss the warm summertime rain that I was so fond of back home. Generally in the Bay area where I am now, we have a distinct wet season. It's during wintertime when it's grayish and cold.

    I love the bubbles phenomena! It is simply amazing and extraordinary that you were there to record and share your experience!

    One of my favorite things to see at my grandpa's pond was feeding time. He would throw shovels of pellet food out for the fish and the sound of it hitting the water was such a cool sound. Then almost instantaneously, you would see the fish all rushing to the surface with open mouths sucking the pellets down in gulps! Your post made me think of this memory.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks so much Ashley. I'm glad it brings back some fond memories. We feed the fish also but it has become more like feeding the grass carp and turtles. The smaller game fish have to get to it fast or those others will gobble it all up, lol.

    The rain and bubbles day was truly amazing. I guess it was just the right combination of factors lining up and I just happened to be there for it. I'm glad I was.

    Come see us again soon.

  9. lovely, Baker - just lovely and really neat photos!

  10. BW,
    You did it again. A wonderful pictures of bubbles and a great explanation. Our pond is beautiful anyway, but more beautiful the way you describe it.


  11. I've only seen this once before, in a shallow puddle. I was driving past when I saw it and found myself carfully driving around the edge of it so I could stop to take a photo!

  12. Everyday I learn something new. Today, I am amazed to learn about tiny bubbles that can cover a pond. Cool.


Thanks for stopping by to visit our little pond. We would love to see you again real soon.