Since our Summer 2011 publication, more tasks within its Wild About Ponds project have been completed but the pace has significantly slowed. Part of the slowing has been attributable to a re-organisation within Derby City Council Parks Department and establishing revised working arrangements, part planned. Work completed included removing glyceria at the Starflower Way (Mickleover) pond, re-occurrence of parrots feather at Dale Road (Spondon) pond, plant clearances at Da Vinci and The Sanctuary, and further DWT Pond Management Plan reporting.
Work on this project was formally launched in March 2010, and has now moved well into its implementation phase involving the key partners (Wild Derby, DCPWA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, BTCV and Groundwork Derby), in the three year programme funded by SITA and Derby City Council. More information on the project, including the latest project plan, can be found on the dedicated WAP Project page of the DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk).
Information on the mechanical removal of significant amounts of glyceria was included in our Winter 2010 publication. Since that time, the dry conditions have shown some re-emergence under the oak tree and a BTCV work party manually removed this on 14th July 2011.
Information and execution of a 6-point plan to eradicate a virulent occurrence of two highly invasive aquatic plant species; New Zealand Pygmyweed and Parrot's-feather at the old pond were included in our Winter 2010 publication.
Since that time, some re-emergence has occurred in both the old and the new ponds and a BTCV work party manually removed around 15 buckets of it on 14th July 2011, after DCC Parks had removed the protective fencing around the new pond. Our local Pond Warden (Mike Bardill) will now be responsible for keeping it in check, albeit Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson took some more out during an odanata survey on 23rd July 2011.
Removal work on the Old Pond
Removal completed on the New Pond
An unexpected window of opportunity from the BTCV pond clearance team, led to Groundwork using the spare time to clear the two ponds of excessive emergent vegetation (Branched Bur- reed, Yellow Iris and Typha), in accordance with the recommendations of the WAP Management Report issued in March 2011. This was completed slightly earlier than expected due to staff availability, as most pond clearances are recommended to be undertaken in the autumn to early winter period. However, as both ponds were dry, disturbance was considered to be limited.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson took an opportunity to visit this locked site, as part of a community volunteering day being offered by the staff of Egg-Barclays Bank. Sam Maw (Groundwork) and Gethyn Davies (DCC Pride Park Project Officer) accompanied us on the exploratory visit, as Sam will be leading the volunteering day and Gethyn was the key-holder.
The site has two registered water bodies on our 'Ponds List'; one is a large, clear expanse with an artificial sand bank for Sand Martins to nest in, and the other is a much smaller 'pool' which
was very overgrown and held no water. Waterside vegetation on the main pond was good, although probably nearing its limits, but did not require any thinning at this stage. However, there were areas of algae forming along most of the water edges and this was added to the work schedule. The 'pool' was another component, which required extensive removal of glyceria and ragwort.
Sanctuary Main Pond - Before
Sanctuary Pool - Before
The community volunteering day subsequently took place on a rather grey and damp 4th August 2011. Sam Maw, from Groundwork, led the day which included 18 employees of Egg-Barclays Bank and four Pond Wardens from DCPWA. The tasks included a litter pick, removing plants from the stone scrapes created for Little Ringed Plover nesting sites (one was heard calling but there was no evidence of nesting), pond-dipping in the main pond and clearing the 'pool'.
Maggie Cooper, Anne Morgan, Philip Ollerenshaw and Derek Golson led the pond-dipping sessions for the Egg-Barclays Bank staff, which included methodologies as well as practical work. The dips identified Smooth Newt, Common Frog and Toad, Dragonfly, Damselfly and Mayfly Lavae, Diving Beetle, Leech, Water Scorpion, Water Skater, both Water Boatmen, Freshwater Shrimp, Pea Mussel, Red Worm, Daphnia and Midge Lavae. There were also large quantities of Dragonfly Exuvia on the emergent reeds and samples were taken for recognition purposes. Sand Martins were in abundance with a single Sedge Warbler (assumed nesting in the reeds). DCPWA also led the work pattern to remove blanket-weed along the pond fringes.
Sanctuary Main Pond - After
Sanctuary Pool - After
BTCV successfully cleared all debris from the two ponds and re-profiled the edges by carefully exposing and pulling back the liners, 9-12" of soil was then dug away, the liners put back, and more soil added. No liner is now visible on either pond and they have extra soil added. Interestingly, they are both holding water. Only problems were from local youths.
The work breakdown structure for this site, which was the major work pattern for 2011, has had to undergo a significant revision due to a change in approach by Derby City Council Parks. The change has had to incorporate two new elements, a Toxicity Test and Environment Agency (EA) Approval, following a re-structure of DCC Parks and change of personnel. This had had both costs and time implications on this part of the project.
Following lengthy discussions on budgets, a Change Request to include the Toxicity Test of the silt in the pond, at a cost of £1,400, was approved by the project on 27th July 2011 and tests were undertaken during the week ending 12th August 2011. Whilst the results received early-September 2011 identified two contaminants, they do not prevent the spoil being distributed on another part of the park as originally planned. DCC Parks are now preparing the proposal for the EA, which could take up to eight weeks to approve. These two new activities have added about three months to the work breakdown structure for this site, with de-silting now slipped to January/February 2012. Any further delays will impact on the 2012 breeding season, which may then necessitate the site being withdrawn from the project.
The last DCPWA Newsletter highlighted the problems with dogs using the new pond at Mickleover Meadows, to the extent that a recent pond dipping session with the local Girl Guides had to be cancelled. Further, the frequent use by dogs is continuing to cloud the water and limit aquatic plants becoming established.
As such, BTCV conducted a survey of the site to see if there were sufficient types and quantities of local material to provide a dead hedge. Unfortunately, the survey failed on both counts. Subsequently, the WAP Management Team meeting on 16th September 2011 discussed an alternative approach using post/rail and stock fencing, which requires DCC Parks approval.
The WAP management report highlighted the problems with water retention on most of the four ponds on this site. BTCV have been conducting some research on the best solution for the site, given that conventional clay-puddling has a fairly low success rate. BTCV are recommending the use of a product called Bentonite supplied by RS Minerals (www.rsminerals.co.uk/3.html). A discussion on its use was discussed at the latest WAP Management Team meeting held on 16th September 2011, and it was agreed that we should purchase a limited amount of the product and trial it on a couple of ponds. BTCV have programmed the work to start on 15th November 2011.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have completed all of the amphibian, invertebrate and plant surveys for 2010, and formal issues of resulting Management Reports began in the last period. Further reports for West Park Meadow (Spondon), Education Pond (Alvaston) and Allestree Park were made in this period, and these have been forwarded to the relevant DCPWA Pond Warden and Chairman of the local Friends Group (where applicable). Surveys for the second tranche of sites (for 2011) have also commenced, and all have now been completed for the year. DWT will now be preparing the relevant management reports for the surveys undertaken in 2011.
The report for West Park Meadow (Spondon) reflected a fair Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score) of 72%; an 18% improvement on its score for 2004/5. Of particular note is the presence of a well- established population of Common Water-crowfoot, Ranunculus aquatilis, in the margin of the western side of the pond and the occurrence of the submerged aquatic plant Rigid Hornwort, Ceratophyllum demersum which is abundant throughout. The report recommends continuation of the annual removal of Reed Sweet-grass, Rigid Hornwort, Nuttalls' Waterweed and Broad- leaved Pondweed by the combined Friends and DCPWA volunteer groups.
The report for Education Pond (Alvaston) highlights that, since the time of the last survey in 2004/5, the liner has been damaged and, subsequently, the pond struggles to hold any significant levels of water. This has led to a vigorous increase in typha plant levels, despite the Wild About Ponds project spending a day clearing out two sections of it. This has had an impact on the PSYM score being just 50%; down 11% on the previous survey. The report makes a recommendation for a new wildlife pond to be created.
The report for the two water bodies at Allestree Park identifies that only the western component falls into the definition of a pond by virtue of its smaller size and, as such, this was the only one surveyed. The Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score) of 39% represents a poor rating, but a near 40% improvement on the PSYM score of 28% recorded seven years earlier. The water conductivity reading suggested it was, however, relatively clean. The presence of bankside tree cover and waterfowl limit how an increase in the wetland plant species could be achieved. However, the WAP Project did provide some willow revetments on the eastern water to stop bank erosion and provide some aquatic plants, which have started to establish themselves. This has had no adverse impact on the anglers using this stretch of water.
The Chaddesden Park report has been delayed pending confirmation of the type of typha found. This has had to await the flowering period to confirm whether it is of a greater or lesser variety. Details and accompanying report should be available soon and included in our next newsletter.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson were interviewed by Andy Potter of BBC Radio Derby around the fringes of the Porters Lane (Oakwood) pond on 5th July. Discussions centred on the impact of the lack of water in most of the city ponds and the re-growth of glyceria and the need for ongoing maintenance. We also advertised the upcoming PINE Level 2 workshops (see below).
Derek Golson was part of a team resourcing a gazebo/stand for the Friends of Chaddesden Wood at the annual Oakwood Gala, and took the opportunity to advertise DCPWA by handing out copies of the Summer 2011 Newsletter.
Alastair Christie and Claire Spencer, our local Pond Wardens for the two ponds at Derwent Valley Fisheries, have provided another edition of their regular reports. The 'mini pond' water level was much reduced, but realised later that this was a result of lower than usual river levels. Lily growth on the south pond appeared minimal, but was noted extending around the bank of the island all round the pond - this was new growth.
Controlled lily growth on the South Pond
Clear water on North Pond
At the north pond there was a continued recovery from the previous serious algae bloom. At the north end, however, there was some sign of the algae returning.
Anne Morgan, Philip Ollerenshaw, Claire Spencer, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson were the DCPWA support team for the second Wild Derby sponsored event of the year, albeit Craig Spencer (our local Pond Warden) was also there to litter pick at the start of the day as the working Park Ranger for the site. Until Claire turned up for the afternoon session, the average age of the DCPWA helpers was a mere 64!
The all day event attracted over 50 members of the public from all ethnic backgrounds. Mayfly Lavae, Pond Snail (including eggs laid on a bit of reed), Ramshorn Snail, Damselfly Lavae, Hoglouse, Leech, Water Boatmen, Freshwater Shrimp, Worm, Stickleback, Common Frog and Smooth Newt were all caught during the course of the dipping sessions. We even had a visit by a Common Hawker dragonfly, who was witnessing ovipositing (laying eggs).
Anne Morgan and 'Dippers'
Pond Wardens of the Future?
DCPWA supported the Friends of Markeaton Brook on a bright and sunny Sunday. Vince Gunn, Heather Bryant, Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson provided DCPWA effort at different stages of the day. Invertebrates caught included Greater Water Boatman, Pond Skater, Dragonfly Lavae, Rat-tailed Maggot, Mayfly Lavae, Freshwater Shrimp, Leech, Daphnia, Pond Snail, Ramshorn Snail, Water Scorpion, Hoglouse and Water Stick Insect. Amphibians included young Common Toad and Frog, and Smooth Newt, whilst flying odanata included Brown and Southern Hawkers, and Blue-Tailed Damselfly.
An introduction to our PINE Project was given in our last newsletter, and good progress against the plan has been made since. Purchases of the PC Projector, USB Microscope and Reference Books were made in time for the first workshop, whilst the Laptop was delayed as the specification required was out of stock. However, that too has now been purchased.
Maggie Cooper leads the Level 1 Work Package, with support from Heather Bryant and Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, and involves sharing our skills at novice level with primary and secondary schoolchildren. The proposed primary school has now transferred to Oakwood School in Alvaston, and the first of ten classroom sessions was held there on 20th September.
Oakwood Primary School Pond (1)
Oakwood Primary School Pond (2)
Derek Golson leads the Level 2 equivalent, which covers expert level knowledge-sharing with adults. To date, two (from three planned) 'Expert' level workshops have been held at the Sinfin Moor Community Centre, with about 15 attendees at each.
David Goddard, county recorder for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and library archivist for the British Dragonfly Society, led the Odanata workshop on Sunday, 17th July 2011. A full and very interesting day was had by all, which included Ecology, Identification, Exuvia and Larva and finished with Survey Methodologies. The ongoing drought conditions put paid to any field-work on the Sinfin ponds, but the presenters exuvia samples tested both the new microscope and workshop attendees. The identification session was led by Kelvin Lawrence, who is now the DCPWA Odanata Lead.
The second Level 2 workshop on Invertebrate and Plants was held on Saturday, 20th August 2011, and was given by Trevor Taylor of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Trevor is well known to everybody in DCPWA and is already providing our Pond Management Reports. Once again, a full and very interesting day was given, but the invertebrate element was restricted to theory sessions due to the ongoing drought conditions on the Sinfin ponds (again). However, we were able to walk some of the ponds for the aquatic plants section of the day. Pat Sear has now taken on the responsibility as the DCPWA Invertebrates and Aquatic Plants Lead.
Break-time for Theory on Invertebrates
Practical Session on Aquatic Plants
Pat Sear, Philip Ollerenshaw and Maggie Cooper have undergone CRB clearances recently, as part of the requirements for the PINE Level 1 Project delivery.
Contact Derek Golson (Chairman) or Maggie Cooper (Secretary) on 01332-830657, or by email at d c p w a @ aol.com, if you want further details on adopting a pond. Our programme for 2012 will be agreed soon, which covers our quarterly meeting for Pond Wardens, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining the DCPWA.
A new and permanent venue for future meetings has now been agreed by courtesy of the University of Derby (our kind thanks go to Peter Walker). Meetings will continue to commence at 19:00 hours and further details can be found on the DCPWA web site, which is located at www.dcpwa.org.uk.