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.
Our second public event for 2016 took place on the two Chaddesden Park ponds on the afternoon of 24th July 2016. The Main Pond had limited value due to its low water levels (see below).
DCPWA helpers on the day comprised George Daly and Helen Wright (local Pond Wardens), Roger Miller, Paul Foskett, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. George had provided a gazebo for the day, but the weather remained good. We were lucky enough to catch smooth newtlets, dragonfly nymph, water scorpions, greater and lesser water boatmen, pond and ramshorn snails, freshwater shrimp, water skater, worms, leech, mayfly larvae and scavenger beetle. There were over 50 members of the public who took part, which included 30 young children.
Pond Dipping in Full Flow
Roger Miller teaching them young!
Following the monitoring of water levels on the Main Pond during the summer, it was concluded that some damage to the butyl liner had taken place and it needed replacement.
Maggie Cooper had identified the Derby University Community Fund as a possible source of a grant. After George Daly (local Pond Warden) had provided pond size information, Derek Golson obtained quotations from two suppliers for an Aquablock EPDM rubber liner and Ekotex protection fleece, which came to £1,650 excluding VAT. As the pond has amphibians in the forms of smooth newt and common frog, the Amphibian and Reptile Group (ARG) had indicated a grant of £250 may be available, which was matched by DCC (Parks).
So, on 22nd August 2016, Derek Golson submitted a grant application of £1,250 to the Derby University Community Fund. As the fund was only reviewed on a three month cycle, we had to wait until December 2016 for a reply to our application. Unfortunately, just before Christmas, we had the disappointing news that we had been unsuccessful. No reason was given, despite a request for one. We have now identified the Tesco Bags of Help fund as a possible alternative source of a grant. A pre-qualification questionnaire has indicated we would qualify and an application will be made in early 2017.
Using the training provided at Mickleover Meadows on 11th June 2016, 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), Chaddesden Park, Sunnydale Park, Dale Road (Spondon) and Broomfield College.
PSYM scores for 2016 are as follows (with earlier scores shown in parenthesis):
The DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk) has a 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.
This year has been one of steady progress in the life of the pond. There has been investigations involving schools and cubs groups. We have also had activities involving the general public. The pond has received regular maintenance from the Friends of Littleover Parks.
We have held a series of pond dipping sessions with year 3 pupils of Gayton school. In all of our pond dipping sessions, the basic skills were shown and guidance issued. Reminders were given of the correct period for pond dipping, so as to not disrupt the life cycles. One highlight of the year was an Open pond dipping session held in conjunction with Derby City Parks Dept - Love Parks event on 5th August 2016. We ha a very busy afternoon with many families attending. All were fascinated by what they found and studied. The fine weather brought out dragonflies and the Common Blue Damselfly. We found Water Scorpion, Water Boatmen, Damselfly Nymphs, Pond & Ramshorn Snail. Shrimps & Sticklebacks were also amongst the finds.
The Friends of Littleover Parks have had three maintenance sessions on and around the pond. Much pondweed has been removed, some of the overhanging vegetation has been cut back and some of the rush that was beginning to choke the exit of the pond was removed. Unfortunately, a slight deterioration in the biological quality of the water was noted when the annual PSYM survey was undertaken. This was perhaps as a result of not finding rarer plant species from previous surveys, which would have improved the result.
DCPWA led a torchlight survey of an undisclosed site on 24th April 2016, which identified a number of Great Crested Newts (see page 2 of our Spring/Summer 2016 Newsletter). Some students on the initial survey undertook a further survey on the early evening of 15th September 2016 at another site pond which located over 20 great crested newts, three toads and a frog.
Great Crested Newts - New Discovery at Undisclosed Site
(Credits to Tamara Hillyard and Cortney Williamson)
The work was undertaken by 17 local residents including youngsters, led by Derek Golson as the resident Pond Warden. This was the tenth consecutive year of work by local residents and the scope was very similar to that for 2015. After fencing off no-go areas around parts of the pond fringes where rare plants such as water starwort and yellow loosestrife exist, the work included removal of excessive glyceria, typha and willowherb at three different positions in and around the pond fringes, cutting back trailing willow branches touching the pond surface and bramble runs. On the pond banks, a further team of residents concentrated on strimming and raking a large grassed area, removing brambles, stinging nettles and invasive plants. Special care was taken to avoid a wasp nest created in last year's bank of removed vegetation.
(rare plants taped off for protection)
Heavy-duty strimmer on grasses
(raked off to promote wild flower growth)
The PSYM index has increased from 50% to 78%, thereby vindicating the theory that regular pond maintenance really does help improve its biodiversity.
Derby Parks Volunteers (DPV) made an excellent job of reconstructing the dead hedge around Chaddesden Wood pond in Oakwood, at the beginning of November 2016. The original hedge, which was built by TCV in 2012, has been regularly maintained by the Friends group over the years but was becoming increasingly fragile and, following an episode of vandalism at the end of summer 2016, had to be dismantled. The new dead hedge will provide protection from dogs and human interference for spawning amphibians.
Finished dead hedge
Wicket Gate artistry; where's the water?
DCPWA were asked if they could help Derby City Council Parks Dept with plans to create a new pond on the open space between Prince Charles Avenue and the A52. Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson met with Sarah Webster on-site on 20th October 2016 to discuss the problem with travellers and the solution comprising a natural pond and tree planting.
A second meeting with a representative of Severn Trent Water to look at any conflicts with the proposed pond site and existing underground water pipes, scheduled for 14th December 2016, had to be postponed. A revised meeting in early 2017 is being planned.
Surveying the site
Proposed pond location
DCPWA members discussed and agreed the Events Programme for 2017, and decided to proceed with one despite the ongoing decision by Derby City Council to withdraw all financial support of events. 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 8th December 2016. The following members were elected as officers for 2017:
It should be noted that both the Chairman and Secretary have indicated that this will probably be their last year after 11 continuous years of service since the formation of DCPWA in 2006.
The Animal Care Pond at Broomfield College is an important pond for biodiversity, but of late has been suffering from low water levels. Beverley Rhodes and Paul Foskett (local Pond Warden) have been exploring grant funding for the replacement of its butyl liner. However, in the meantime, Paul Foskett and college students have removed excessive amounts of water soldier (stratiotes aloides) from the pond, during which it was noticed that the water levels were holding up well and the pond should be viable for 2017.
Following the submission of an annual Great Crested Newt survey records report by Derek Golson, Natural England have extended his Class License CL08 for another year. In fact, it has been extended to 2025, subject to annual reports being made.
DCPWA presently have a vacancy for a Pond Warden 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 2017 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.