The best time for pond dipping is between the months of May and August, when the aquatic invertebrates are at their most active and the amphibians, such as frogs, toads and newts, have completed their breeding cycle. It is also the best time to view the aquatic plants when they are out in flower, thereby making them easier to identify.
PLEASE DO NOT UNDERTAKE POND DIPPING ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THIS PERIOD.
Another first for DCPWA. Following a request from Whitecross Nursery School in Watson Street, Derby, to Dawn Dagley of Derby City Parks, DCPWA were engaged to provide two pond dipping session to groups of young children aged 3-4 years. There were about 14 children in each group, and they were supported by around seven adult helpers.
DCPWA supplied help in the form of Pat Sear (local Pond Warden), Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson for the first session on 9th July 2014, whilst Pat Sear, Roger Miller and Sue Wesson helped on 15th July. As both days were warm and sunny, we saw Southern Hawker and Blue Damselfly on the wing, with the latter mating and ovipositing in the pond. Pond dipping yielded dragonfly and damselfly larvae, mayfly larvae, smooth newt, hoglouse, leech, red worm, pond and ramshorn snails, water flea and water boatmen.
Allestree Turtle Pond - Whitecross Nursery School Pond Dipping
This was the youngest group of children that DCPWA had worked with since their formation in 2006, and they were probably the best behaved! A good time was had by all, and DCPWA were very grateful for the voluntary donation made by Whitecross Nursery School.
July and August were relatively busy months for our annual PSYM surveys, which put the Pond Warden's knowledge of plants and invertebrates to the test. The following sites were surveyed:
Mickleover Golf Club was a welcome new addition to the site list for 2014, following a request from the Club Secretary to DCPWA for management advice on their two ponds. These two course ponds were last surveyed in 2004/5 by Trevor Taylor. Trevor and Derek Golson undertook the surveys this year, which yielded very similar PSYM scores for both ponds, but for very different reasons. The East Pond had a number of large fish in it, so the invertebrate records were low, but it was rich in flora. The West Pond was improved on invertebrate counts, but lower on flora as a large amount of willow trees were on its fringes.
Mickleover Golf Club - East Pond
Mickleover Golf Club - West Pond
An analysis of the PSYM data for this year shows that all of the ponds surveyed were at least as good or better in invertebrates and plants biodiversity than the previous year; the only exception being Allestree Park Turtle Pond, where the damselfly was not found this year. The PSYM results were as follows:
Our second public event for the year was held on a very warm afternoon at the ever popular Turtle Pond on Allestree Park. Pond Wardens were plentiful to help out, and included Pat Sear, George Daly, Penny Halfpenny, Sue Wesson, Roger Miller, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson.
Over 75 visitors attended on the day, which included 29 children aged up to 16 years old. Pond dipping sessions caught smooth newt, dragonfly and darter larvae, hoglouse, pond skater, freshwater shrimp, red worm, leech, pond and ramshorn snails, mayfly larvae, phantom midge larvae, greater and lesser water boatmen, fish minnows and adult goldfish!. Southern Hawker and Blue and Red Damselflies were found on the wing, with the Blue Damselfly ovipositing once again. Public feedback on the event was either Excellent or Very Good.
The ponds in Chaddesden Wood in Oakwood are once again a tale of mixed fortunes. Due to low rainfall and the ephemeral nature of Pond 1, the main pond has had no water since early summer which inevitably impacted on the number of tadpoles who managed to develop to maturity. The lack of water also meant that the PSYM score was once again calculated by survey of plants only. The biodiversity score was 22%, compared to 11% in 2013, due solely to the new observation of common mare's tail.
Pond 2, the woodland pond which has a butyl liner, has maintained a good level of water throughout the summer and has provided a breeding habitat for a good number of frogs and a small selection of invertebrates. Floating pennywort was found in late summer and threatened to take over the whole area. It was removed by Maggie Cooper, the pond warden, who has continued to monitor the situation for evidence of re-occurrence. The PSYM score was 17% compared to 11% in 2013, due to leech, worm and pond skater finds.
Dry Conditions - Main Pond
Floating Pennywort - Woodland Pond
Now becoming an annual event in the DCPWA Events Calendar, Pat Sear (our Events Manager) and Kelvin Lawrence (our Odanata Specialist) had organised a new venue in the guise of Elvaston Castle. A local Park Ranger had agreed to lead the walk looking for dragonflies and damselflies on the wing. However, the day was greeted by heavy rain and driving winds, which are the two ingredients you do not want for such a walk. So, with great reluctance, the event had to be cancelled. Better luck next year!
Our local Pond Wardens (Alastair Christie and Claire Spencer) undertook a routine visit to the ponds and this is a summary of their findings.
The first call was at the "mini-pond" adjacent to the South pond - but, alas, this has now dried up and is covered by gipsywort and other dense vegetation. The South Pond held a good variety of plants around the verges which had previously been scraped clean. These included gipsywort, great willow herb, red bartsia, bur-marigold, birds foot trefoil, water mint, bulrush, branched bur-reed, water plantain, meadow sweet, tufted vetch, marsh St John's wort, teasel, purple loosestrife and skullcap. As well as the fringed water lilies and usual sedges and reeds, sweet grass reed and great fen sedge were also noted. On the pond itself, there were yellow fringed water lilies in profusion despite some having been recently cleared. We also noted some signs of algae, but, more worryingly, some patches of Nuttalls pond weed which had caused major problems at the North pond.
At the North pond the water was clear and looking good. Vegetation was abundant although there were fewer water lilies than previously seen. From an administrative view it should be noted that the two ponds have been given names by the fishing club - the North pond is now "Woodrow's Pond" and the South pond is "Haslam's Pond". We were informed by an angler that Haslam's Pond is designated a "specimen pond" and has been stocked with top class examples of carp and tench - and is now restricted to "Premium Permit Holders" only.
Haslam's Pond (nee South)
Woodrow's Pond (nee North)
Derby City Council Parks Dept provide DCPWA with financial support for one day of The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) time for work on Derby City's ponds. This year, the DCPWA Management Team received four applications from Pond Wardens for the day to be allocated to "their" pond. These covered ponds at Chaddesden Park, Sunnyhill Park, Markeaton Park and
Dale Road Park (Spondon). At an extraordinary meeting held on 11th August 2014, the Management Team reviewed each application for scope, value-for-money and biodiversity benefit. Chaddesden Park was unanimously selected, based on the fact that the scope included a full-days work, the ponds were already used for education purposes and were the best for biodiversity.
Scope of the work included redefining the edge of the main pond where mud has slid down, covering areas of exposed butyl liner, clearing typha from the main pond, and cutting back brambles growing around both ponds.
Main Pond - Before...
Main Pond - After...
Marsh Pond - Before...
Marsh Pond - After...
Derby City Council Parks Dept funded this work undertaken by TCV, which included excess vegetation removed (including invasive Parrots feather) from the main pond.
The Arboretum Main Pond - TCV Vegetation Clearance Work
The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) have completed a series of maintenance work on other ponds during the month, which included:
Bankside revetment to help prevent erosion problems at Markeaton Park
On another lovely sunny day, Derek Golson (local Pond Warden) and nine local residents set about their fifth consecutive year clearing the Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and pond, in accordance with a management plan written by DWT. After taping off the rare branched burr-reed and yellow loosestrife, the tasks included removing over 30 barrow-loads of glyceria, rigid hornwort and broad-leafed pondweed from the pond centre (waders were called for), thinning out some of the fringe glyceria banks, removing the bramble runners and some nettles, strimming and raking off the small area of grasses, and washing down the protective metal fence.
Plenty of Dragonfly Larvae and Smooth Newts were welcome finds on the day, all of which were returned to the pond. One disturbing find was a new growth of Japanese Knotweed. After notification, Derby City Council had poisoned the plants found over the last two years and these had not re-appeared. Regular monitoring will now continue.
DCPWA presently have a vacancy for a Pond Warden for the two ponds at Alvaston Park. The role of a Pond Warden is a voluntary one and aspects of the job can be found on the DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk). You will be expected to work closely with the Friends of Alvaston Park . Please contact DCPWA at d c p w a @ aol.com, or telephone 01332-830657, for more information.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson attended the Derby Green Spaces Forum, which took place at The Arboretum on 7th July 2014.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson attended the Derby Museum on 29th September 2014 with other natural scientists, to provide input to plans for a new Nature Gallery.
Laura Clarke has joined DCPWA as a prospective new Pond Warden, and has been helping Pat Sear with PSYM Survey work at Allestree Park. Welcome aboard, Laura!
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 2014 is now in progress 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. 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.