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.
DCPWA was invited by Long Eaton School to be involved in their Eco-day on 1st July 2015. The day involves schools from the surrounding area participating in a range of ecological activities throughout the day. The original plan was that DCPWA would facilitate pond dipping in the school pond. Unfortunately, as the day drew nearer it became clear that this activity would not be possible due to problems with the quality of the water. Plan B, therefore, had to be devised. Maggie Cooper took a tank containing water, plants and invertebrates from a local Derby pond (care had to be taken when driving along the A52!) and Mary Shaw produced a similar tank from the nearby canal.
Students were then given the task of identifying what each tank contained, assessing water quality and making comparisons between the two habitats. We were also able to look for dragonflies and damselflies around the school pond. The school children, some of whom had learning difficulties and other special needs, appeared to enjoy the sessions especially using the magnifying glasses. It also provided us with an opportunity to discuss risk of cross contamination between sites and why it was important not to mix specimens or equipment between the tanks and to return everything to the pond of origin.
Trevor Taylor of DWT provided our annual pond survey training (again), which this year took place at Sunnydale Park Pond on 4th July 2015. The venue was changed this year, so that we could gauge how the Sunnydale Pond had recovered from its major restoration work undertaken in February 2012 under the Wild About Ponds project funded by the SITA Trust (see the Spring 2012 Newsletter on our web site).
DCPWA attendees included Roger Miller (local Pond Warden), George Daly, Pat Sear, Sue Wesson, Mary Shaw, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. The pond is a large one, so after water sampling had taken place to determine pH levels, we all walked around its perimeter to identify the aquatic plants. This identified some uncommon plants in the form of cyperus sedge,
water dock and water figwort. Pond dipping then took place at five different locations, which yielded a rare stonefly larvae (courtesy of the inflowing brook), dragonfly and damselfly larvae, together with both scavenger and diving beetles. Data was entered into the PSYM spreadsheet, for it to return a fantastic score of 78%! This was a massive 28% improvement on the score prior to restoration, which fully justifies the work programme undertaken.
Pat Sear and Trevor Taylor
Water Dock (Rumex Hydrolapathum)
Our second public event for 2015 took part on the two Chaddesden Park ponds on afternoon of 29th July 2015. Both ponds, and the Marsh Pond in particular, had been subject to vandalism on 19th June 2015, when emergent plants had been trampled on. However, after a review with Trevor Taylor of DWT, it was decided to continue with the event.
DCPWA helpers on the day comprised George Daly and Helen Wright (local Pond Wardens), Heather Bryant, Roger Miller, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. George had provided a gazebo for the day, as it was raining when we started and progressively got heavier as the event unfolded. We were lucky enough to catch smooth newtlets, dragonfly nymph, water scorpions, hoglouse, greater water boatmen, pond and ramshorn snails, leech, mayfly larvae and scavenger beetle. Despite the awful weather conditions, a hardy 22 members of the public took part, which included 15 young children.
Pond Dipping at the Main Pond
Last of the Summer Wine!
Using the training provided at Sunnydale Park on 4th July 2015, a number of Pond Wardens have put that to good use in completing biodiversity surveys on "their" ponds. This has included Chaddesden Wood, Porters Lane (Oakwood) and Chaddesden Park. A new pond included in the programme was the Little Chester Allotment pond in Chaddesden, for which Jason Hollman has become the new Pond Warden (see Bits & Pieces below).
Little Chester Allotments did have four ponds in 2014, but two had to be filled in to meet health and safety guidelines imposed by their insurer. Derek Golson and Maggie Cooper helped Jason undertake the survey on the original Green Gym pond on 3rd August 2015, as he had missed the training day. Interesting finds were pendular sedge and rigid hornwort, along with both dragonfly and damselfly larvae. A PSYM score of 44% was achieved, together with a proposed maintenance programme for both ponds.
Pond 1 (Green Gym)
Pond 2 (LCA)
PSYM scores for 2015 are as follows (with earlier scores shown in parenthesis):
The DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk) now has a new tab, entitled, "Surveys", which gives a lot of information of the PSYM process, together with the type of information captured in the field sheets, and where some of Derby's ponds currently fit in the biodiversity spectrum.
Sunnydale Pond has had a successful year. We have held a number of pond dipping sessions during the prescribed season and these have yielded a range of aquatic life.
In June, in conjunction with volunteers from Friends of Littleover Parks, we held a session with members of Year 5 from Gayton School. This was one part of an environmentally based programme of investigations. The basic skills of pond dipping were shown before the children enthusiastically started. Nothing especially unusual was found - with plenty of water boatmen, larvae, pond snails and leeches. This was followed by a session with a local cubs group, which was perhaps not as successful as there were a lot of snails and tiny larvae. However, this did not dampen the cubs' enthusiasm.
Our final session was held as one of the activities of the City Parks "Love Parks" event on Sunnydale on 31st July 2015. The park had been awarded Green Flag status and the award ceremony took place that day. This attracted many visitors and we had a busy session. The fine weather brought out the dragonflies and families had an exciting time spotting them out of the water as well as their larvae in the water.
The end of the year has seen the Friends of Littleover Parks removing much of the pond weed that was taking over using the grappling hooks provided by DCPWA. We are very grateful to DCPWA for their support during the year and for the loan of their equipment.
Our last Newsletter highlighted the issues with major ponds maintenance work, following the closure of TCV (Derby and Derbyshire) at the end of March 2015. Following referral of the problems to DCC Parks, DCPWA are pleased to report the good news that DCC Parks have now created a new "friends" group called Derby Parks Volunteers (DPV). DPV have been created using the nucleus of the existing volunteer pool used by TCV, so we are all aware of their skills competence in major nature conservation tasks.
Work undertaken during the October-December 2015 period has included the following:
The work was undertaken by 19 local residents old and young, led by Derek Golson as resident Pond Warden. This was the ninth consecutive year of work by local residents and the scope was very similar to that for 2014. During that period, the PSYM index has increased from 50% to over 70%, thereby vindicating the theory that regular pond maintenance really does help improve its biodiversity.
Glyceria & Yellow Flag Removal
End of a Long Day!
A group from Friends of Allestree Park had a working party to clean up the Turtle Pond at Allestree Park. Work started on the Saturday morning using rakes borrowed from DCPWA, along with waders and gauntlets. The pond is not deep, but does come over the top of wellies and reaching into the centre of the pond is always a problem. The main target was the mass of Canadian Pondweed and that was dragged on to the edges of the pond. A check for any creatures caught in the debris was undertaken, which resulted in the rescue of a few dragonfly larvae and snails. The weed was then piled around the pond edge to be left overnight hoping that any remaining creatures might find their way out to the water.
It was a bright, cold day. Four adults from FOAP Monica, Martin, Nicola and Pat Sear (local PW), along with Nicola's son, Harry, worked hard and managed to clear the masses of the pond weed. The irises and reeds were also trimmed back to more acceptably sized clumps. Nicola won the fight to don the waders and venture into the middle of the pond, working with Harry as a human chain to pass weed out to the edge. After two and a half hours we had a good wall of weed all around the pond edge and although very churned up and muddy the pond looked so much clearer. Notices were placed around the site explaining the activity to the public, apologising for any inconvenience and arranged to be back next morning.
Sunday morning was COLD; it was crisp and bright and the piles of weed were crunchy with a glaze of ice on the pond. We worked along the piles checking for any life and still found dragonfly larvae, snails and hoglice, which had mostly worked their way to the bottom of the piles. All were very lethargic, but seemed fine when put back into the water. Catch of the day was a goldfish, about four inches in length, lying under the weed looking very dead. I don't know who jumped most when it was touched and leapt in the air. It was placed back in the water against all our better judgement and swam happily off to eat our invertebrates. The debris was moved a short distance under the nearby shrubbery where it should rot down and become compost for the flower beds next year. The birds were very quickly on the scene, pulling it apart looking for tasty snacks; happiness all round! Let's hope the PSYM survey next summer will show positive results.
Canadian Pondweed Removal
What would we do without Waders!
Derby Parks Volunteers carried out a day clearing both Chaddesden Park ponds. The work plan was to remove excess emergent vegetation (typha stands in particular) and ongoing repairs to the pond banks. Work had nearly been completed by lunch, after which DPV continued cutting back the bramble around the pond margins and into the grassland area.
Vegetation clearance nearing completion
Main pond (foreground) and Marsh pond
The scope of the work primarily concentrated on the continued removal of any reoccurrences of the two invasive species; crassula and NZ pigmyweed.
Cavendish Close Junior School is located in Chaddesden and is in the process of having a brand new school created alongside the old one. As part of the building programme, an existing pond within a courtyard area of the old school will be demolished alongthwith the old school buildings. DCPWA were invited to attend the school on 2nd November 2015 to provide advice
on the site and topography of the new pond and hibernacula, and a translocation programme of plants and invertebrates.
Derek Golson met with the Headteacher, Caretaker, Ros Allen (a Governor at the school) and the Project Manager for Bowmer & Kirkland (the developers) to agree the new pond site and an outline programme to complete the creation of the new pond by January 2016. The programme was based on the recommendations included in the ECUS Ecological Mitigation and Enhancement Plan supplied by DWT.
New Pond and Hibernatum
DCPWA members discussed and agreed the Events Programme for 2016, and decided to proceed with one despite the decision by Derby City Council to withdraw all financial support of them. The programme is as follows:
Other events such as Amphibian Surveys, Nature Site Visits and Dragonfly Walks will be arranged nearer the time, based upon member interest.
These meetings are to be held at the Kedleston Road campus of the University of Derby.
This was held at our meeting on 9th December 2015. The following members were elected as officers for 2016:
Jason Hollman has come forward during July 2015 to be the Pond Warden for the two ponds that remain at the Little Chester Allotments in Chaddesden. Maggie and Derek met with Jason on 4th August 2015, when they also undertook a PSYM survey on the original Derwent Green Gym pond. Welcome aboard Jason!
In response to a request from Broomfield College for a presentation on conservation initiatives, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson delivered one to their Animal Management students, as part of their Wildlife Ecology and Conservation unit, on 14th December 2015.
Derek Golson was issued with a Natural England licence:WML-CL08 - to survey great crested newts for scientific (including research) or educational purposes - Level 1 (Class Licence), which covers surveying by hand, nets, torches, and aquatic funnel traps (including bottle traps). The license excludes the use of box traps and pitfall traps and is valid to 30th September 2016.
In response to increasing requests on how to undertake biodiversity surveys on ponds, information on the PSYM process has been uploaded to the DCPWA web site under a new tab entitled "Surveys". We hope you find it useful.
DCPWA presently have a vacancy for a Pond Warden for the two ponds at Alvaston Park, and those at Chellaston Brickworks. 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). Please contact DCPWA at d c p w a @ aol.com, or telephone 01332-830657, for more information.
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 2016 is now agreed 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 Events tab of the DCPWA web site, which is located at www.dcpwa.org.uk.