Since our Summer 2012 publication, limited work within the Wild About Ponds project has been completed. This has included sizing and ordering the bentonite lining requirements for all of the remaining ponds planned to receive it, further deepening of the new pond at Alvaston Park and further willow removal at Heatherton. The Management Plan for Markeaton Mill Pond has also been published. Much of the spare DCPWA time has been consumed with further public pond awareness and dipping events.
Work on this project was formally launched in March 2010, and is now in the final six months involving the key partners (Wild Derby, DCPWA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, TCV and Groundwork Derby), in a 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).
Work aimed at deepening the new pond was initiated by sixteen Year 6 schoolchildren, supported by Groundwork. TCV delivered further pond deepening to a depth of 1.75m in places by a volunteer team and leaders on 17th July 2012. The pond is, however, still very dry, but measurements were taken for a Bentonite liner to be implemented by Groundwork during 4Q2012 to improve water retention.
TCV Volunteers deepening the new pond
TCV Volunteers profiling the pond
Further work to lessen the impact of willow trees on the banks to this large pond were completed by TCV on 30th August 2012. The scope of the one-day activity was willow tree removal in 10-15m
bays from the waterside to increase light levels to help with the growth of marginal vegetation. The willow was stacked for chipping by Derby City Council Parks.
Willow Tree Removal by TCV
Open bays created from Willow removal
The original Chaddesden Wood pond was clay-puddled many years ago and currently suffers from poor water retention, albeit it is well frequented by a large population of common frogs and the occasional toad. Three new ponds, sited away from public pathways through the wood, were hand dug as part of the Wild Week on Ponds project in 2009; the butyl-lined one holds water, but it is of poor quality. The two other ponds were dug as scrapes with railway sleepers acting as water holders. These two qualified for the national Million Ponds Project, but water retention here has also been poor.
The WAP management team proposed solution (defined in our last newsletter) was put to the users of the wood at the Chaddesden Wood LNR – 21st Birthday celebration event held on 29th April 2012. The preferred option, together with digging out and laying bentonite, has subsequently been costed and is provisionally planned to be undertaken by TCV in 4Q2012, when the present exceptionally high water levels have receded and BST has past.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have completed the surveys for the second tranche of sites (for 2011) and the first Management Report for Elm Wood was issued at the end of last year. Since then DWT has published the reports for the Royal Derby Hospital and Markeaton Mill ponds, and are now finalising the report for the remaining site at Alvaston Park. The final tranche of surveys for 2012 have now been completed for amphibians and invertebrates, and the reports for Dale Road Park (Spondon), Arboretum Park, Burley Brook (Allestree), Chaddesden Wood, Heatherton, Spondon Gilbert, Sunnydale Park, Derwent Valley and Nooneys are all due during 4Q2012.
The report for the Markeaton Mill pond reflected that the PSYM had decreased slightly to 56%. This had been attributed to the loss of a number of uncommon aquatic plants such Nodding Bur-marigold and Narrow-fruited Water-cress, which were both recorded in very small quantity in the margins of the eastern bank during the 2005 survey. This may be due to the 2006-2007 removal or pollarding of a number of bank side trees on health and safety grounds. This work has noticeably reduced the amount of shade affecting the pond and has undoubtedly played a part in encouraging the development of emergent marginal vegetation which has become dominated by Reed Sweet-grass.
Pat Sear (our local Pond Warden) had a request from the 73rd Scout Group at Allestree to do a pond dipping session in Allestree Park. The group of 18 cubs normally meet on a Monday night and it was decided to invite them on Monday, 9th July 2012 to Allestree Park Ornamental Pond.
The very enthusiastic group duly arrived at 6pm with their helpers and thanks to the help provided by George Daly, Helen Wright, Anne Morgan and Philip Ollerenshaw, we began a very active pond dip. The pond as usual gave us plenty to look at and the weather was great, but getting boisterous youngsters to appreciate what they were seeing was sometimes hard work. It was really good to have so much equipment available from DCPWA in the form of nets and trays, as it was possible to keep the children actively involved all the time. They are keen to come again next year, so we assumed that they must have enjoyed themselves. The leaders expressed their thanks to DCPWA for providing the opportunity and assistance.
The Friends of Allestree Park held their Wild Derby Event at the Ornamental ‘Turtle Pond’ next to Allestree Hall. It was a really perfect Summers Day and the pond was at its best, with good water levels and the right amount of emergent vegetation providing cover for the pond life.
The event was just confined to the morning session this year to make it easier to manage and it proved very successful. We had a brilliant turnout, with a constant stream of families eager to take part after spotting it in the Wild Derby Book, or from posters and advertising efforts, but others just by coincidence. The pond has such an abundant variety of creatures that it was easy to create enthusiasm and excitement with nearly every dip. The haul for the day included lots of pond snails and ramshorn snails, a horse leech, water boatmen, smooth newts, small fish both minnows and sticklebacks and several dragonfly larvae which we think were Common Hawker and Broad bodied chaser larva. Mayfly larvae and pond skaters were also netted along with water slaters and red worms.
DCPWA EXpert Helper - George Daly
Pond Dipping - Families in full flow
Thanks to George Daly who came along to give support in addition to the FOAP helpers, it is always good to have an expert. Participants appreciated the availability of nets, trays and ID charts and the help they got identifying their ’catch’. No-one fell in and the sun shone.
This annual DCPWA event was again blessed with hot sunny weather and hardly any wind. DCPWA members helping for all or part of the full-day event were Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper, George Daly, Penny Halfpenny and Derek Golson.
After a very quite morning, interest picked up in the afternoon, no doubt helped by the Fun Day event being held on the park at the same time. Over 70 members of the public, of all ages and ethnicity, took part and caught Mayfly Nymph, Pond and Ramshorn Snails, a single Smooth Newt, Leech, Hoglouse, Water Boatman, Red Worm, Freshwater Shrimp, Water Skater, Water Spider, Beetle Larvae and quite a few Minnows (fish). The continuing absence of any Dragonfly and/or Damselfly Larvae remains a concern, albeit that the warmer weather did bring out a couple of damselflies on the wing. Only one adult frog was spotted. The adjacent new pond was holding water but levels were low and the quality was inferior from what seemed to be leaf litter; no invertebrates were found within it.
What have we got here then?
Afternoon Pond Dippers
So, a long day in warm conditions, but 17 members of the public completed Wild Derby questionnaires, from which 12 rated the event as "Excellent".
The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) arrived promptly at Da Vinci Community College, equipped for a days hard graft. The weather was perfect; bright and dry, but not too hot. First job was to get the water brewing for tea! With all the eager volunteers equipped with waders, spades, forks and wheelbarrows and suitably refreshed with tea and coffee the hard graft began.
The west pond had around 90% cover of emergent vegetation with branched bur- reed dominating. Liasing with Keith Flory, Lucinda Schirle (our local Pond Warden) decided where to remove reeds to avoid damaging areas where the rare plant (for Derbyshire) Nitella sp. was growing (see details and images later on in this newsletter).
There was more water present than usual for this time of year, which made the removal of reeds easier and more efficient as we were able to remove whole root systems. All removed vegetation was wheel barrowed to a designated area. By lunchtime we had made significant progress with over half the pond cleared! Kettle back on and we stopped for a well earned lunch.
Da Vinci West Pond Clearance (1)
Da Vinci West Pond Clearance (2)
We were all eager to get back to the job in hand and due to some excellent team work and good old elbow grease, we cleared the pond with time to spare. Some small willows and overhanging branches were also removed to further open up the pond. Overall it was a very successful and enjoyable day with TCV, and a big thanks to everyone involved!
At the end of July 2012, DCPWA was contacted by the Fun-abil8y project leader to see if we would provide pond-dipping sessions at the Arboretum ponds for young disabled people from the St. James Centre. The St James Centre (Derby) is a registered charity providing community support and learning resources for residents of the Normanton area of Derby. Fun-abil8y is a leisure and developmental programme for young disabled people aged 3-25 years, from all parts of Derby, from all backgrounds and with any type and degree of disability.
The weather looked threatening on the day, but the rain held off long enough for Pat Sear, George Daly, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson to have three dipping sessions with between six and eight youngsters, plus their carers, in each group. This was the first event that DCPWA had held for groups of youngsters who have physical, sensory or learning special needs; the event went well and we felt privileged to have been a part of this fun day. Our pond 'catch' was not extensive but it was a great experience!
Arboretum - St. James Centre Pond Dipping (1)
Arboretum - St. James Centre Pond Dipping (2)
An unusual first for DCPWA; a request from a group of mothers and their children to hold a private pond-dipping event. After some negotiations on venues and dates, five mothers and their nine children arrived at the Allestree Park "Turtle" pond on a sunny afternoon, where Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson had agreed to provide a two-hour dip. We were lucky enough to catch a good selection of invertebrates and amphibians; pond and ramshorn snails, dragonfly, damselfly and mayfly larvae, freshwater shrimp, smooth newtlets, water spider, leech, hoglouse, water boatmen and pond skater. Flying dragonflies and damselflies were present. A great time was had by all and DCPWA received a welcome donation for their efforts.
A first for DCPWA, albeit Elvaston Castle is just outside the city boundary. DCPWA were represented at this Derbyshire County Council sponsored event by Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper, Chris Monk (from DARG) and Derek Golson. Their pitch was located alongside the main lake and a steady stream of enquiring visitors occurred during most of the day, until heavy rain arrived mid-afternoon. Pond dipping was on the agenda, but the paucity of invertebrates in the lake made public sessions unviable. So, our specialist dippers caught smooth newtlets, lesser and greater water boatmen, ramshorn snail, midge larvae, hoverfly larvae, red worm and great diving beetle (a very large specimen) in the abandoned fountain pond on the lawns. These were then placed in our tank located at the DCPWA tent, which attracted many children.
Elvaston Woodland Festival - DCPWA Tent
Great Diving Beetle
DCPWA supported OPAL in delivery of their Mansfield Primary Schools Eco-Day in May 2012, and were rewarded with five brand-new lightweight pond nets for their participation. Since then, OPAL have asked DCPWA whether they can nominate a site to satisfy their Derbyshire "Green Space for Wildlife" Big Lottery project. A review of the various Pond Management Reports identified the need for a new pond at the Alvaston (Green Lane) nature area.
The site is owned by the Highways Agency, and managed on their behalf by Smiths Gore. On 17th July 2012, interested parties in the form of Smiths Gore, WildDerby, DWT and DCPWA, met on site to provisionally agree the new pond site, its size and methodology for construction. DCPWA subsequently costed the work elements of mechanically digging the pond (ADM Plant Hire), to be followed by bentonite procurement, laying and finishing off (TCV), with DCPWA undertaking the project management. The implementation costs derived came in just under the OPAL budget.
Proposed New Pond Site
Existing Pond Site
The two main risks have now been mitigated by Smiths Gore and DWT, and OPAL transferred the project funds of £1,000 to DCPWA on 29th August 2012. DCPWA are now busy contracting the work to ADM Plant Hire and TCV, whereupon a schedule can be derived and agreed by all parties. It is anticipated that implementation will take place during November 2012.
Readers of our last newsletter will remember that an aquatic plant survey undertaken by our Pond Warden (Lucinda Schirle) as part of the PINE project delivery at Da Vinci College identified a member of the stonewort family. Lucinda subsequently passed a small specimen of the plant to Trevor Taylor of DWT who confirmed it to be from the Nitella sp. Trevor has subsequently passed it onto the national stonewort referee, who has identified it as Nitella Opaca.
Nitella Opaca is a sparsely scattered species nationally, favouring more upland areas. The most recent sighting for Derbyshire was at Cromford Canal in 1984, with no other reports since the 1800s. So, a great find. Well done, Lucinda!
Underwater Image - Nitella Opaca (1)
Nitella Opaca (2)
DCPWA have been engaged with helping identify potential pond sites for the new DWT Derwentwise project. Workshops have been attended and a new pond site on the Darley & Nutwood Nature Reserve identified. Further information on the project can be found at www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/what-we-do/derwentwise-lower-derwent-valley-living-landscape-partnership-project.
Ben Cape, our Pond Warden for the ponds in Elm Wood, has taken on the same role at the Alvaston Community Nature Area, previously managed by Vince Gunn.
A Pond Conservation hosted celebration at the House of Lords in London was attended by Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson of DCPWA on 18th September 2012. We went with Beverley Rhodes and Trevor Taylor. The event celebrated the completion of Stage 1 of the Million Ponds project, which was targeted to dig 5,000 new ponds in England and Wales over the five year period 2008-2012. DCPWA contributed ten new ponds at Chaddesden Wood and Sinfin Moor to Stage 1, and the event provided good networking opportunities for the group.
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 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 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.
Young, fashionable and having an interesting time!