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 contacted by Mary Shaw, Science-Environmental Technician, to provide some maintenance advice on a well-established pond with a dipping platform and adjacent marsh area, sited in the school grounds close to the Erewash Canal. Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson visited the site on a wet and windy day, and noted that the pond was about 20m in diameter, butyl-lined with vegetation in the forms of yellow flag iris, curly waterweed and glyceria. A quick pond dip yielded dragonfly larvae, pond snails, water boatmen and stickleback fish, and we were advised that smooth newts have been found on the site.
Following discussions with Trevor Taylor of DWT on a mini management plan, it was recommended that the following be undertaken
Mary Shaw advised that all items were completed during January 2015. However, recent developments had led to the pond being infested with green algae, which had resulted in most of the plants dying. Barley straw bales were in the process of being purchased to resolve this latest issue.
Lucinda Schirle, our Pond Warden for the two ponds located on the Da Vinci College campus in Chaddesden, had identified that both ponds were suffering from excessive vegetation and absence of water during a routine visit. So, the DCC Parks Manager was contacted to see if there were any TCV days available, but unfortunately the budget for the year was exhausted. They recommended we speak to the Community Payback Team (CPT) to see if they could help, and Lucinda arranged an on-site visit to discuss the work. Unfortunately, we were advised that the CPT were not allowed to undertake work which involved working in water greater than ankle deep! So, it would appear that we cannot use CPT for work within the pond area itself.
DCPWA received a letter from TCV, via the DCC Parks Development Manager, on 13th January 2015 advising that TCV planned to close the Derby and Derbyshire offices at the end of March 2015, with the reason quoted as "geographical consolidation", and despite the fact that the group returns a profit to TCV as a whole.
Steve Wright (as TCV Leader for Derby and Derbyshire) and his group of willing "free" volunteers, have provided significant support to DCPWA in undertaking the more "labour intensive" pond restoration activities since its formation in 2006, and played a major contribution as a partner in the delivery of our Wild About Ponds project between 2010 and 2012. Without TCV, many of the pond biodiversity targets for Derby would not have been met. So, armed with this information we wrote letters of support for the group's retention to both Steve Wright himself, and Julie Halls as TCV Chief Executive.
Whilst TCV had not had the courtesy to formally advise us of the outcome of their internal review of the subject, we have learnt through DCC Parks that the group were closed at the end of March 2015. The consequence of such a closure, coupled with CPT not being permitted to work in water, is that DCPWA now have no mechanism available to them to undertake "labour intensive" work on Derby ponds, which is essential given the average age of DCPWA members. The matter was referred to DCC Parks for a viable way forward.
David Winslow of DCC Parks has reported that the nucleus of the "Derby TCV Volunteers" were now based at Sinfin Moor LNR undertaking various conservation tasks. The strategy is to form them into a "Friends-like" group with the relevant insurance cover funded by DCC Parks. Once this has been achieved, they may be available to undertake DCPWA pond work. David Winslow also reported that contact has been made with the Burton Conservation Volunteers as an alternative support group.
Derek Golson undertook his annual amphibian surveys at three undisclosed sites on 13th April 2015, accompanied by Trevor Taylor of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. The results were very encouraging with numbers slightly up on last year, and Great Crested Newts found on two new ponds from the year before. Smooth Newts, Common Frog and Common Toad were the most abundant, with a total of 10 Great Crested Newts being located under torchlight.
A torchlight survey of a regular amphibian site took place on 26th April 2015, led by Trevor Taylor with Beverley Rhodes (our President) and four Pond Wardens in attendance. Once again, Smooth Newts and Great Crested Newts were the order of the evening, but this time the numbers were more balanced. A total of 19 Great Crested Newts were found in just two ponds.
As a follow-up to our previous visits to Walter Evans School in Darley Abbey, Maggie Cooper met with one of the teachers on two occasions during this period. On 16th April she reviewed the status of the pond and discussed its potential as a teaching and learning resource. A return visit was made on 1st June to familiarise the teacher with materials generated by the PINE Project and discuss safe pond dipping practice; appropriate seasons for different activities were explained to maximise exposure to wildlife for the children whilst protecting breeding invertebrates and amphibians. The teacher is planning to run an after school club and to incorporate some of the ideas into her year group's curriculum.
Our key public event for 2015 took place at the Turtle Pond on the afternoon of 10th May 2015. A sunny day greeted DCPWA helpers in the form of Pat Sear (local Pond Warden), Sue Wesson, Mary Shaw, Penny Halfpenny, Maggie Cooper, George Daly and Derek Golson. Visitor numbers were very steady throughout the event, with estimates of over 85 people attending, from which a high percentage were children.
The pond never fails to provide a good variety of amphibian and invertebrates species, with Smooth Newts (adults and young), Dragonfly Larvae, Damselfly Larvae, Broad-Bodied Chaser Larvae, Hoglouse, Leech, Red Worm, Ramshorn Snail, Pond Snail, Midge Larvae, Freshwater Shrimp, Water Boatmen, Tadpoles and Fish Fry caught on the day. The adult Smooth Newts seemed to be the public favourites, with two crested males and a single female in fine shape.
Pond Dipping - More Adults?
Young PW inspecting the Catch
The main pond in the Chaddesden Wood LNR benefitted from sodium bentonite to aid water retention, accompanied by a dead hedge construction to protect amphibian breeding periods, as part of the Wild About Ponds project in 2012. Since then, the Friends of Chaddesden Wood (FoCW) have maintained it, with Maggie Cooper being the local Pond Warden.
Reports of vandalism to the dead hedge were submitted to the Police in April, so repairs were made by FoCW members on 6th and 12th May 2015. The repairs included removing the broken posts and hedging to about 40% of the perimeter, harvesting new material from local hazel trees and re-installing. A great end product, and thanks should go to David Winslow in leading the team.
Chaddesden Wood LNR - Repaired Dead Hedge on Main Pond
Friends of Allestree Park held their annual pond dip on Saturday, 30th May 2015. The weather was once again extremely kind and we had a warm sunny afternoon. The Turtle Pond was the venue and it was looking good with high water level and plenty of emergent and floating plants.
From the start at 13.00 we had many families arriving keen to experience Pond Dipping, many for the first time (the power of Facebook). The six helpers from FOAP were brilliant, some experienced and knowledgable, others just keen and hard working. We were so busy, an average of 40 people around the pond all afternoon and a total turnout of over 100.
Tadpoles were a popular catch and very prolific, we had several smooth newts; two very large adult males plus several smaller ones, but only two females. The usual crop of common pond and ramshorn snails, damselfly larva and some very ferocious looking dragonfly nymphs, which caused upset by consuming some tasty tadpoles when in the trays. The children were thrilled with their finds and Mums and Dads seemed to have just as much fun.
It was so good to have plenty of trays and nets courtesy of DCPWA, along with the ID charts. The children were good about sharing. Many thanks from FOAP to the Pond Wardens for the loan, and to Monica Monticelli, Bill Grange, Steve Plant, Nic West and Sue Wesson.
FoAP - Pond Dipping at Turtle Pond
Smooth Newt (Female)
DCPWA was invited by the Spondon Community Association (SCA) to the unveiling ceremony of a new interactive Information Board at Dale Road Park in Spondon on 3rd June 2015. DCPWA and our local Pond Warden (Mike Bardill) have always had a good working relationship with SCA, and we worked closely together when the work to remove invasive plants from the original pond and create a new pond was successfully undertaken as part of our Wild About Ponds project in 2010/2011.
Derek Golson and Maggie Cooper represented DCPWA (Mike Bardill was busy at work), and other guests included the Mayor of Derby, local councillors, sponsors and a group of school children who were involved in parts of its design. The design includes a feature on the original pond, for which Mike and Derek originated a draft narrative. The image of the information board shown below shows the pond in the lower left corner of the central white panel.
New Interactive Information Board
Designs by Local Schoolchildren
The leader of the 1st Spondon Mars Cub Pack made a request to DCPWA to lead a pond dipping session at the West Park Meadow pond on the evening of 9th June 2015. The pack comprised 25 girls and boys, aged between 8 and 11 years old. The pack was split into two equal groups; whilst one group undertook pond dipping, the other was involved in tree identification work with David Hayes of the West Park Meadow LNR support group.
Pond Wardens helping out on the two 45-minute sessions were George Daly, Mike Bardill, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. Invertebrates caught during two very enthusiastic dipping sessions were Hoglouse, Ramshorn Snail, Red Worm, Water Boatmen (very small samples), Freshwater Shrimp, Water Scorpion Larvae, Midge Larvae, Dragonfly Larvae, Leech, Water Mite, Beetle Larvae, Water Spider and Smooth Newtlets. It was interesting to note that no Damselfly Larvae were present.
Post event feedback from the Pack Leader stated “I think the evening can be summed up by a parent catching up with me the following day saying that his Cub had squelched all the way home and he never took a breath through talking all about it, he was even still recounting the evening whilst having his bath!” DCPWA was also very fortunate to receive a £25 donation for running the event, which will be put to good use for equipment refreshment. Thank you!
Safe Pond Dipping Advice Session
Pond Dipping in Full Flow
Derek Golson received an annual renewal of his Level 1 Class WML-C08 licence from Natural England on 7th January 2015. This permits the survey of great crested newts for scientific (including research) or educational purposes, and covers surveying by hand, nets, torches, and aquatic funnel traps (including bottle traps). It excludes the use of box traps and pitfall traps.
DCPWA presently have a vacancy for a Pond Warden for the two ponds at Alvaston Park, and also for the last remaining pond at Derwent Green Gym in Chaddesden. 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 2015 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.