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.
An on-site review with DCC Parks representatives was held on 1st February 2016 to address Pond Warden concerns on the water levels on the main pond. It was concluded that some damage to the butyl liner had taken place and it was agreed we would monitor the levels and see whether the damage could be located at time of low water levels during the summer. A correction plan could then be derived for the autumn/winter period.
Water Levels on June 2012
Water Levels on 1st February 2016
Trevor Taylor (DWT) and Derek Golson undertook torchlight surveys of the ponds at Porters Lane (Oakwood), Bridle Gate Lane (Alvaston) and Chellaston Brickworks on the evening of 8th April 2016. Evidence of common frog and common toad was found, but numbers seemed to be down on last year. This may be due to the colder temperatures at the time. Good numbers of smooth newts were found at all but Bridle Gate Lane, but this was compensated by it showing good numbers of caddis larvae and the starwort plant.
A torchlight survey of the ponds at an undisclosed site took place on the evening of Sunday, 24th April 2016. A total of 17 people attended; 11 from DCPWA. The survey looked at 12 ponds; problems with water retention on one significant pond were highlighted, but another pond showed improved water conditions compared to last year. Numbers of Great Crested Newts were very similar to last year, albeit Smooth Newt numbers seemed to be generally lower.
The Friends of Allestree Park (FoAP) and local Pond Warden, Pat Sear, held one of their two annual Pond Dips at the Turtle Pond next to Allestree Hall on Saturday, 7th May 2016. Once again, we were very lucky with the weather and the pond itself was looking good after the clean-up carried out last autumn.
We set up at the end of the pond with our information table and all the equipment kindly loaned by DCPWA. The tank was set back in the shade of the trees waiting for the addition of all those special finds we were hoping for. We quickly had a steady flow of arrivals as the event had been advertised to local primary schools and sent out in an electronic newsletter, the response was impressive!!!
We were a little short on helpers at first and the demand for nets was way in excess of those available, but all disputes were resolved amicably and we had a very successful afternoon.
Pond Dipping in Full Flow
Large Diving Beetle
Tadpoles were plentiful, still at a young stage with no limbs emerging yet. Dragonfly nymphs, damselfly and mayfly larvae were also easy to find, whilst the number of smooth newts making an appearance was brilliant causing a lot of excitement. One damselfly was emerging on the reeds and drying its wings, although none flying on the day. A fabulous pair of large diving beetles were caught on two occasions. The usual finds of hoglouse, leeches, worms and midge larvae, water beetles and pond skaters gave us a really interesting range of pond life and the adults, again, were just as fascinated as the children.
Many thanks to DCPWA for making this possible as it is a very popular event, and many thanks to FoAP for their donation to DCPWA to help cover running costs.
We were asked to undertake pond-dipping for the local Ladybower Beaver/Scout group on a sunny Monday evening. DCPWA helpers for the event were Maggie Cooper, George Daly, Mike Bardill and Derek Golson, whilst David Hayes of the local conservation group undertook tree id activities.
There were about 15 beavers (6-7 year olds) attending, complemented by four leaders. The beavers were spilt into two groups, each doing one hour on pond dipping and tree identification activities. The pond dipping realised a very large dragonfly larvae, numerous tadpoles, freshwater shrimp, Ramshorn snail, mayfly larvae, hoglouse, water boatmen, midge larvae, red worm and daphnia. A good time was had by all, and DCPWA was very grateful for the donation provided to assist with group running costs.
Pre-Event H&S Review
Demonstration on Safe Pond Dipping
Despite Derby City Council withdrawing their event funding this year, DCPWA agreed to continue its provision of two public pond-dipping events. The first was held on the two ponds at Dale Road Park (Spondon) on a sunny Sunday, 15th May 2016. We were grateful to the Spondon Community Association for advertising the event using local media channels. DCPWA helpers for the day were Mike Bardill (local Pond Warden). Helen Wright, Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper, Roger Miller and Derek Golson.
The DCPWA gazebo and display stands were setup close to the ponds, together with pond dipping equipment and a tank to display our catches. These included a large number of both male and female smooth newts, nearly all of which were located in the new pond. A single tadpole was found, together with invertebrates in the forms of broad-bodied chaser larvae, damselfly larvae, midge larvae, pond and ramshorn snails, freshwater shrimp, mayfly larvae, water boatmen, hoglouse and a diving water beetle. Around 30 people visited, from which about 50% were children. We must also thank a local resident, who supplied us with tea, coffee and biscuits during the event.
Pond-Dipping (New Pond)
Catch of the Day = Smooth Newts
The National Trust, in the form of their Engagement Officer (Jen Lloyd), had asked DCPWA if they could be represented at a day dedicated to all things aquatic, as the last in a whole week’s worth of events designed to attract children during their half-term holidays. Following an earlier site visit it was evident that there was no viable pond close to the public thoroughfares, so if the public cannot get to the pond life, the pond life has to be taken to the public.
On a very wet day, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson caught a selection of invertebrates and amphibians from the Porters Lane (Oakwood) pond and transported them very carefully to Calke Abbey. As the rain had not eased, display facilities were setup in Squirt's Stable, which also housed toys and games of yesteryear. The display tank housed damselfly and mayfly nymphs, pond and ramshorn snails, freshwater shrimp, hoglouse, water boatmen, smooth newts, leech and worm. A selection of pond plants and dragonfly exuvia were also on display, and we lost count on how many times Maggie explained the dragonfly lifecycle. An interesting day saw over 100 members of the public visit the exhibit.
DCPWA Stall in Squirt's Stable
We were asked to undertake pond-dipping for the local 175th Jay Cub Pack on a sunny Tuesday evening. DCPWA helpers for the event were George Daly (local Pond Warden), Lucinda Schirle, Roger Miller, Paul Foskett, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. As one of the two ponds was out of pond-dipping action due to liner issues, Paul Foskett kindly helped to alleviate pressures on the other pond for 23 cubs (boys and girls) by taking half of them around another part of the LNR to do tree identification activities. A true multi-disciplined pond warden is our Paul!
The Marsh Pond then had to entertain two large groups of dippers, who caught smooth newts, pond and ramshorn snails, water scorpion, dragonfly larvae, water boatmen, water skater, leech, midge larvae and worms over a period of 90 minutes. The invertebrates and amphibians were glad when things had finished. DCPWA were thanked for their efforts and rewarded with a £25 donation.
Pond-Dipping in Full Flow (Marsh Pond)
Tree Identification led by Paul Foskett
Trevor Taylor of DWT provided our annual pond survey training (again), which this year took place at Mickleover Meadows New Pond on 11th June 2016. The venue was changed this year, so that we could gauge how the new pond, mechanically dug as part of the Wild Week on Ponds in 2009, had established itself.
DCPWA attendees included Sue Wesson and Pat Sear (local Pond Wardens), George Daly, Kelvin Lawrence, Anne Morgan, John Bland, Richard Froud, Roger Miller, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. The pond is medium size with no liner, so after water sampling had taken place to determine pH levels, we all walked around its perimeter to identify the aquatic plants. This identified a total of 13 plants, which showed a loss of Water Starwort and Greater Willowherb, whilst new plants included Tufted Hairgrass, Glaucous Sedge, Ragged Robin, Curly Pondweed and Typha since the last survey in 2011. Pond dipping then took place at a number of locations, which yielded 11 types of invertebrates, with the loss of Pond Snail and gains in Bivalves, Diving Beetle and Water Boatmen (back-swimmer). Data was entered into the PSYM spreadsheet, which returned a score of just 33%; surprisingly 6% lower than 2011.
A management review of the biodiversity decline concluded two possible reasons:
These reasons have subsequently been discussed with Derby City Council (DCC) Parks staff. Work will be undertaken by the DCC Parks team to close the hedgerow gaps and ensure dog walkers do not use the pond area as a thoroughfare, whilst it has been agreed that before ANY maintenance work commences, engagement is made with local pond wardens, so that everybody is made aware of what needs to be retained, what can be thinned out and what should be removed (e.g. invasive plants). Future PSYM surveys will monitor the situation.
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.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson attended the national Keep Britain Tidy awards ceremony for Love Parks 2016, which was held in the Nottingham council offices on 17th March 2016. Derby City Parks put forward seven nominations for five categories and were successful in achieving overall wins in the Love Your Park and Innovation categories, highly commended in the Partnership category (Richard Froud) and commended in the Love Your Park, Volunteer Group of the Year and Volunteer of the Year (Derek Golson) categories.
The Animal Care Pond at Broomfield College is an important pond for biodiversity, but of late has been suffering from low water levels. DCPWA were asked for advice and met with Paul Foskett on site on 19th April 2016 to review the issues and plan a way ahead. This was an agenda item at the next DCPWA Meeting held on 9th June 2016, which provided a draft method statement. This is being used as the basis for a grant application to replace the liner, and to seek approval from Natural England to undertake the work in Autumn/Winter 2016.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson were interviewed by Andy Potter, of BBC Radio Derby, as part of National Volunteering Week. The interviews were transmitted on 10th June 2016.
DCPWA are pleased to welcome Richard Froud as the new Pond Warden for Alvaston Park. Richard is Chairman of the Earl of Harrington Angling Club, with whom DCPWA have already been working in partnership on six pond sites, so Richard is well known and is welcomed aboard as PW in his own right!
Paul Foskett has become the Pond Warden for Derby College’s Broomfield Campus. Paul has only recently joined the College as a Countryside Lecturer and Site Warden and, whilst the site is outside the City boundary, the DCPWA Committee agreed to his pond warden role given the strong working relationship between the two organisations. Welcome aboard Paul!
John Bland has become the Pond Warden for Sinfin Moor LNR. John replaces Barbara Holmes, and will work in conjunction with Kelvin Lawrence, who has been working as the second pond warden for this large site with many ponds. Welcome aboard John!
Mike Bardill, pond warden for Dale Road Park (Spondon), has agreed to extend his coverage to include West Park Meadow, which is also located in Spondon.
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 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.