Since our Spring 2009 publication, the DCPWA group has supported the Friends of Markeaton Brook with a family pond dipping event on 16th April 2009, undertaken its annual Pond Survey Training on 23rd May 2009 and pond dipped with the Belper Beavers on 11th June 2009. However, the majority of the period was spent planning and then implementing our Wild Week on Ponds programme, which culminated in the digging of five new ponds on three city sites over the week 1-7th June 2009.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson provided the DCPWA support to a pond dipping event organised by the Friend of Markeaton Brook on 16th April 2009. In wet conditions, a number of families braved the elements to find out what lurked in the depths of Markeaton Mill Pond. On offer were Smooth Newt, Greater and Lesser Water Boatman, Leech, Pond and Ramshorn Snail, Damsefly Nymph, Mayfly Nymph, Freshwater Shrimp, Water Beetle and numerous Hoglouse.
Members of the public identifying their catches from Markeaton Mill Pond
A total of eight Pond Wardens arrived for their annual training on pond surveying techniques, which this year was held at Sinfin Moor Park on 23rd May 2009. Trevor Taylor from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust gave up part of his valuable weekend to lead the team on process, practicable surveying and post identification activities. Trevor was supported this year by David Goddard, the county dragonfly recorder, who provided us with a detailed information pack on the identification of dragonflies and damselflies.
We were divided into groups of 2-3 people, and then surveyed the 4 meso-habitats existing on the pond. Our catches were then shipped the short distance back to the Community Centre, where we went through the identification process.
Survey Training in progress
An Eyed Hawk Moth found in the grasses
Pat Sear was asked to respond to a request from the Belper Beavers' group to go pond dipping at Allestree Park, which led to a very successful evening enjoyed by a group of 14 beavers, helpers and DCPWA Pond Wardens (Pat, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson) on 11th June 2009. We met at the ornamental pond, next to Allestree Hall, which we were told would hold richer pond life than the lake, and on a lovely sunny evening the children set to work with nets and trays to see what they could find.
Initially the large population of pond snails was the source of greatest excitement, but this soon gave way to the amazing variety of other life to emerge. We had tadpoles and baby newts, mayfly nymphs, whirligig beetles, leeches, greater and lesser water boatmen, water slater, midge larvae and water skaters. Then great excitement, when an empty case of a dragonfly nymph came out intact; 5cm long, much admired and photographed, this was followed at the very end by a live version of the same; slightly larger, very black and active. We were all thrilled.
The children had a great time, with only one boy getting slightly wetter than he should. Our thanks go to BTCV for the loan of the equipment.
Dipping by the Beavers
Wild Week on Ponds was the brainchild of Beverley Rhodes from WildDerby. The programme included a whole weeks worth of activities, both with and without public involvement, ranging from digging five new ponds, transplanting bluebells, erecting bird
boxes, planting meadow flowers, holding a family picnic and culminating in our annual Day of Pondomania. The week began in soaring temperatures and finished in a thunderstorm, and took place between 1st and 7th June 2009. Creation of four of the five new ponds has formed Derby City's contribution to the Million Ponds Project, recently launched by the Ponds Conservation Trust and Natural England.
Two teams, from Derwent Green Gym and Broomfield College, assembled at Chaddesden Wood (Oakwood) in soaring temperatures on Monday, 1st June 2009. Under the guidance of Maggie Cooper (DCPWA) and David Winslow (DCC), both teams hand dug the first two ponds, which were linked together for overspill purposes. However, the ponds were very different in design. The Broomfield College pond was lined, filled with water and had pond plants planted, whilst the Derwent Green Gym pond was purely a scrape with a dam provided by recycled railway sleepers. The Derwent Green Gym hand dug a third pond using a similar design in the northern part of the wood on Tuesday, 2nd June 2009. Nick Law from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust provided the "pond consultancy" expertise.
Pond constructed by Broomfield College
Pond constructed by Derwent Green Gym
Whilst the pond digging was underway on the Monday, an RSPB team erected 50 bird boxes, provided in kit form by the Derbyshire Probation Service, and assembled by the Oakwood Youth Group, Parkview Primary School and DCPWA. Maggie was also leading members of the public in replanting many bluebells displaced by the new ponds. And, whilst all this was going on, Radio Derby were conducting a live Outside Broadcast with Aleena Naylor for three hours, interviewing members from all the support groups involved. The Community Payback team even erected a new Nature Reserve sign close to two of the ponds. Members of the public walking through the wood were shown progress, and some showed an interest in forming the new Friends of Chaddesden Wood group and being a Pond Warden with the DCPWA.
Bluebell replanting by members of the public
Nature Reserve sign - Community Payback Team
Down at Mickleover Meadows on Monday, 1st June 2009, and unknown to the public, a mechanical digger began the excavation of a much larger pond at a site chosen specifically to attract a rare BAP Species, under the guidance of Pat Sear (DCPWA) and Gerado Musano (DCC). The site selection process had had to take account of the archaeological ridge and furrows on this part of the meadows, how the extensive spoil would be displaced, and not forgetting avoiding a HV Cable running close to the site! A test borehole undertaken the previous week had been successful in hitting a water table. However, the digging on the second day had now reached a slate line and no water, upon which despair set in! A review on site resulted in the slate at the bottom of the pond being puddled by the digger in the hope that it would hold rain water and the bank slope on one side reduced on H&S grounds. Debbie Alston from Derbyshire Lowland BAP provided the "pond consultancy" expertise.
Pond dig in process - 1st June 2009
Pond holding water - 6th June 2009
The public day on Thursday, 4th June 2009 was involved in sowing grass seed along the spoil area situated along a hedgerow and replanting the turfs displaced by the digging of the pond. Friends of Mickleover Meadows helped. Despair had turned to delight on the following Saturday when a heavy rainfall had resulted in the pond seemingly holding water, and with further rain on the following day the water level had now breeched the slate line and the water level was holding firm. Success!
Grass seeding on the spoil - 4th June 2009
Turf relaying 4th June 2009
Work at Sinfin Moor Park commenced on Wednesday, 3rd June 2009, with a target to "dig a pond in a day". To help achieve this, BTCV led the work in the guise of Steve Wright and two other leaders, with Derek Golson providing DCPWA guidance. Volunteers on the first day
came from local Rolls-Royce First-Year Trainees (x14) and the Friends of Sinfin Moor Park, who also provided a gazebo and well-earned refreshments. Both of these groups provided assistance on the second day, when they were complemented by teams from BTCV and Community Payback. Chris Monk from Pond Conservation provided the "pond consultancy" expertise.
In addition to providing 21 man/woman days of effort to support the dig, Rolls-Royce plc were also instrumental in providing a £500 grant from their Charitable Donations Committee, based on an application prepared by DCPWA.
Friends of Sinfin Moor Park Refreshments
BTCV and Rolls-Royce Trainees
The site was probably the hardest to work on of the three, by virtue of the long meadow grasses and uneven ground which made movement of the spoil to a bund created last year by Sinfin Wild Week quite tiring. Whilst the site may have benefited from a mechanical digger, the close proximity of overhead cables dictated that the site had to be hand dug on H&S grounds. To help keep the volunteers going on the first day, the Rolls-Royce trainees were treated to a fish and chip lunch. This proved so successful, that seven of them turned out for the second day to help put the finishing touches to the pond. The Community Payback Team were on site to complete the laying of a footpath close to the pond area, and on the second day they helped dig out vegetation from an inflow to an existing pond close to the position of the new one, to improve water take-on.
The pond taking shape on Day One
One week later...
On Friday, 5th June 2009, Trevor Taylor from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust led around 40 members of the public on two guided walks around the two ponds managed by the Earl of Harrington Angling Club. These ponds were judged to have the highest PSYM score of 69 city ponds surveyed by Trevor back in 2004/5. Trevor was accompanied by our local DCPWA
Pond Wardens for the site, Claire Spencer and Alastair Christie, who monitor the site on a regular basis and provide the links with the Angling Club.
The sites are abundant in flora, and the South Pond yielded Fringed Water Lily (too abundant), White and Yellow Water Lily, Flag Iris, Amphibious Bistort (not seen during the original survey), Sweet Iris, Water Forgetmenot and Cuckoo Flower. The North Pond had White Water Lily and Swan Mussels. As we headed back to the South Pond and walked close to the banks of the Derwent River, there was a profusion of Banded Damoiselles flying along the fringes. We also found a new pond, a small depression, close to the South Pond, which held its own biodiversity with water beetles, water boatmen and water cress present.
Saturday, 6th June 2009 awoke to a day of heavy and persistent rain, and very cold. So much so, that the planned public picnic at Mickleover Meadows had to be cancelled. However, a few sturdy individuals from the local Youth Group turned up and helped with the meadow planting of about 150 wild flower plugs.
The final event was our annual Day of Pondomania, which this year formed part of The Big 1 Carnival being held at Chaddesden Park on Sunday, 7th June 2009. However, the downpour of the previous day had resulted in the postponement of the Carnival, but in true Britsh grit, DCPWA decided that the pond-dipping event would carry on!
However, the weather was even worse than the previous day, with thunder and lightning occurring at times. Despite this, three families turned up and the pond-dipping proceeded as planned on the new pond, which had matured well enough to hold tadpoles/frogs, water beetles, red worms, water fleas, pond skaters and a water beetle larvae. Radio Derby also braved the elements to interview the children and to summarise the week events with a joint interview with Beverley Rhodes (Wild Derby) and Derek Golson (DCPWA).
Radio Derby Interview
Pond Dipping in the Marsh Area
In summary, the Wild Week on Ponds had involved:
The DCPWA Committee have been working closely with Beverley Rhodes of WildDerby, to help construct a funding application to the SITA Trust's Enriching Nature Programme. The Wild About Ponds project is planned to raise the awareness of the importance of ponds. It will achieve this by providing the pond wardens with the necessary training and through surveying and the production of 30 mini-management plans, the resources and confidence to continue to manage and restore ponds beyond the end of the project. With this information, the Wild About Ponds Project will also provide the necessary professional resources, through expert tuition and supervision, to create and restore a number of ponds.
The scope of the Wild About Ponds project will be to restore 14 existing ponds, maintain six high-quality ponds and create five new ponds within Derby City over a period of 2-3 years. The application was submitted to the SITA Trust's Enriching Nature Programme during February 2009 and it was on the agenda for the formal Board Meeting held on 16th June 2009. A written decision is due by the end of June 2009.
Contact Derek Golson (DCPWA Chairman) or Maggie Cooper (DCPWA 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 quarterly Pond Warden meetings for 2009 will be held on 26th March, 18th June, 24th September and 17th December, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining the DCPWA. All meetings will be held in the Council Offices in Corporation Street, Derby and commence at 19:00 hours. It would be great to hear from you or see you there. Further details on the DCPWA and other events can be found at www.dcpwa.org.uk.