Since our Summer 2013 publication, and as we still have no grant work open, we have continued to record core activities of the DCPWA volunteers.
David Holdsworth, leader of the 1st Horsley Cub Pack, contacted DCPWA in April 2013 after finding us on the web. David was interested in offering a pond-dipping event to the cubs in July. DCPWA recommended the Turtle Pond at Allestree Park, as it had an interesting collection of amphibians and invertebrates, and provided a safe environment.
So, on a sunny and warm evening, David arrived with 23 cubs, boys and girls aged 8-11 years, supported by cub leaders and parents. DCPWA were well represented with help from Ian Sanders, Claire Spencer, George Daly, Helen Wright, Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. The two hour session began with a short pond dipping training session which caught a large great diving beetle. The pond dipping session proper added adult smooth newts (both male and female), young smooth newts, dragonfly and damselfly larvae, freshwater shrimp, water slater, leech, lesser and greater water boatmen, pond and ramshorn snails and tadpoles/young frogs.
Pond Dipping in Full Flow
Boy's Side for Dipping!
Using the pond survey training provided by DWT in June 2013, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson kicked off formal PSYM surveys at Silverhill School (Mickleover), Porters Lane (Oakwood) and Chaddesden Wood ponds during July 2013. Further PSYM surveys were undertaken by the resident Pond Wardens at Dale Road Park (Spondon), Sunnydale Park, Allestree Park, Mickleover Meadows, Markeaton Park and Sinfin Moor LNR during August 2013.
Following the provision of electronic spreadsheets for the capture of pond data and calculation of PSYM scores from Trevor Taylor of DWT, DCPWA now have a totally automated procedure to derive the PSYM score themselves. PSYM scores obtained from the recent surveys are shown below, with the data for the last survey shown in parenthesis:
Preliminary analysis of the new PSYM data reflects that nearly all ponds have shown an improvement over their last survey, with the exception of the two ponds at Dale Road Park (Spondon) and Allestree Lake West. The new pond at Mickleover Meadows has shown the largest biodiversity improvement, no doubt helped by the existence of both dragonfly and damselfly lavae for the first time, and five "uncommon" plants. A report from our local Pond Warden (Pat Sear) follows.
Mickleover Meadows New Pond
Yellow Water Lily
The pond on Mickleover Meadows was created in June 2009. It was dug out mechanically under the Million Ponds project. It filled naturally and very quickly from rainfall run off from the meadow, and holds water all year round. The natural clay base, essential for holding water, has a distinct downside in this pond which is regularly disturbed by dogs entering the water, despite fencing erected two years ago. As a result, the water is permanently reddish brown with sediment, which never clears.
There is some hope as Nuphar lutea (yellow water lily) now covers nearly 50% of the pond and, in this area, some clearing is taking place. There is a lot of Elodea Canadensis (Canadian pond weed) now established, which will need controlling, but also Potomogeton crispus (Curled pond weed), Callitriche platycarpa (water starwort), Lemna minor (common duckweed), Veronica beccabunga (brooklime) and Juncus effuses (soft rush). Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag iris) has about 12 plants, and is now established at the pond ends.
Yellow Flag Iris
The improved vegetation has greatly improved the PSYM score on this pond, as we now have both dragonfly larvae and damselfly larvae present, with a huge number of Notonectidae (greater water boatmen). No sign of amphibians at present, but expect to see evidence in Spring 2014.
Eighteen visitors joined Nigel Barker, Maggie Cooper, Kelvin and Lisa Lawrence and Penny Halfpenny on 13th July 2013 for a pond dipping session at Sinfin Moor Park Local Nature Reserve. The Friends of Sinfin Moor Park did a great job creating a safe access point to the limited amount of water available and providing refreshments in their Pavilion Cafe after the event; which was much appreciated on this very warm day.
Dragonflies and Damselflies were in abundance and could be seen paired and ovipositing; species identified were Four-spotted Chasers, Broad-bodied Chasers and Common Blue Damselflies. Invertebrates included mayfly nymph, whirligig beetle, a diving beetle, water scorpion, hoglouse, midge and fly larvae, blood worms and water boatmen. Small frogs and newt tadpoles were also present.
The children did occasionally get a turn with the nets!
Our Honorary President (Beverley Rhodes) invited Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson to lead the pond dipping session at an Open Day held at her local primary school in Stanley village. Whilst just outside the city boundary, DCPWA were keen to see what lived in the pond.
On a sweltering hot day with no breeze, a steady stream of young children and their parents undertook pond-dipping activities. The small pond yielded young smooth newts, tadpoles, young frogs, water slater, dragonfly larvae, water beetle larvae, freshwater shrimp, leech, water boatmen, pond snails, daphnia, midge larvae and lots of active caddis-fly. A mature Southern Hawker dragonfly made a late and close visit, just as we were packing away.
DCPWA were invited, by Derby City Council Parks, to lead pond-dipping sessions for the public attending the Picnic in the Park event at Dale Road Park (Spondon) on the afternoon of Thursday, 1st August 2013. Other events included wall climbing, kite-making, together with DWT and Police displays.
Following an earlier litter clearance and PSYM survey on 28th July 2013, Pat Sear, Penny Halfpenny, Maggie Cooper, Derek Golson and Mike Bardill (resident Pond Warden) resourced the DCPWA gazebo and led pond-dipping sessions using both ponds. Over 50 people enjoyed the dipping sessions for both adults and children, and caught broad-bodied chaser larvae, numerous smooth newts and pond snails, freshwater shrimp, water boatmen and mayfly larvae. We were also treated to flying common hawker dragonfly, chasers and damselflies, on what was probably the hottest day of the year.
H&S Briefing Ended...
Let the Pond-Dipping Commence
Kelvin Lawrence (our DCPWA Odonata Specialist) led a walk to explore dragonflies and damselflies around the DWT Hilton Gravel Pits site on Sunday, 18th August 2013. On a sunny and windless afternoon, Kelvin was accompanied by Nigel Barker (and his partner Sue), Penny Halfpenny, Ian Sanders, Maggie Cooper, Derek Golson and Roger Miller (and his wife) for the three hour walk.
There were plenty of odonata at the main entrance whilst we waited for everyone to arrive, and during the three hour walk we identified Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Ruddy Darter and Common Blue Damselfly. Kelvin also treated us to sightings of the common twayblade, common spotted orchid, the parasitic Purple Toothwort growing in woodland and the quite unusual stagshorn lichen growing in heathland. Maggie took some great images during the visit, and two of the more interesting ones are shown below.
Blue Damselflies in Mating Position
Beverley Rhodes contacted DCPWA during August 2013, to see if they could offer some help in removing a large concentration of typha from the pond at the Village Primary School near Normanton. George Daly, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson were the DCPWA volunteers involved in the back-aching task of hand-pulling and piling the typha, as it was unsure how the pond had been lined and the use of tools could have caused damage.
Before the typha removal commenced, a survey of the pond was undertaken, which revealed invertebrates in the form of freshwater shrimp (numerous), water slater (hoglouse), whirlygig beetle, red worm, pond snail, ramshorn snail, water spider and mosquito larvae (numerous). Aquatic plants were quite numerous and included water mint, typha, willowherb, duckweed, marsh marigold, brook lime, soft rush, hard rush, jointed rush, Canadian pondweed, rigid hornwort, marsh forget-me-not, yellow flag iris and figwort (introduced).
Typha did occupy all of the clear water
Job Well Done!
Having developed a syllabus for after-school workshops as part of its PINE project, with subsequent pilot delivery at Oakwood Primary School in 2012, DCPWA were keen to offer this opportunity to other Derby junior and primary schools. Given their resource limitations, DCPWA felt this was only viable if we trained the trainers for its subsequent delivery. Maggie Cooper will deliver two three-hour "Train the Trainer" sessions in September 2013 and March 2014. For a small £25 donation to DCPWA, each participating school will receive two "Train the Trainer" sessions, both hard and electronic copies of the pupil education packs and management advice on their own pond.
Eight schools, comprising Mickleover (Silverhill) Primary, Chellaston Infants, Peartree Infants, Royal School for the Deaf, St.John Fisher, Gayton Junior, Parkview Primary and Village Primary, took up the offer. Mickleover (Silverhill) Primary School has been prominent in its engagement and kindly offered to be the venue for the two "Train the Trainer" sessions.
The first session took place on 12th September 2013, when the syllabus covered topics ranging from pond survey techniques, to health & safety, water pollution, habitats, and finishing with odonata. The sessions were mixed between the outdoor classroom and the school pond. The session seemed to be well received, and everybody was looking forward to the second session on 6th March 2014, when amphibians and aquatic plants will occupy the syllabus.
Theory Session in the Outdoor Classroom
A late request from Beverley Rhodes resulted in Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson running a pond dipping session as part of Derbyshire County Council's "Do One Thing" event for autumn. A steady stream of over 50 children partook in the afternoon dipping activities, which yielded smooth newt, dragonfly, damselfly and chaser larvae, water beetle, common and horse leech, hoglouse, ramshorn and pond snails, freshwater shrimp, mayfly larvae, great water boatmen, daphnia and pond skaters. We were even treated to a pair of Red Darters ovipositing!
Pond Conservation has changed its name to the Freshwater Habitats Trust (www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk). A launch event to signify the change was held on a boat sailing along the River Thames on 12th September 2012.
Derek Golson submitted his annual report to Natural England on Great Crested Newt findings on 30th September 2013. He remains registered to use Class Licence WML-CL08 (Great Crested Newt Class 1), permitting surveys for Great Crested Newts using specific methods over the next year.
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 2013 is now nearly complete and covers our quarterly meeting for Pond Wardens, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining DCPWA.
A 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.