Since our Spring 2010 publication, the DCPWA group has been undertaking more implementation tasks within its three-year Wild About Ponds project, which has included digging new ponds at Elm Wood and Spondon, repairing the Burley Brook pond on Allestree Park and the first tranche of amphibian and PSYM surveys.
DCPWA has also undertaken plenty of pond-dipping sessions, including its annual Day of Pondomania and The Big One Carnival. It also supported Derbyshire’s first Bioblitz event held at Markeaton Park. This busy quarter concluded with its annual survey training.
Work on this project was formally launched in March 2010, and has now moved into its implementation phase involving the key partners (Wild Derby, DCPWA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, BTCV and Groundwork Derby), in the three year programme funded by SITA and Derby City Council. More information on the project, including the latest project plan, can be found on the dedicated WAP Project page on the DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk).
Elm Wood was declared a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 2009 and, at that time, had no ponds. The site was surveyed by the project delivery team early in 2010 and the location and topologies for not one, but two ponds agreed. As the site has no natural water table, it was deemed that the ponds required butyl liners and these were procured by Derby City Council in mid-March
BTCV and its volunteers began removing hazel trees from the chosen sites on 31st March and, over the course of two days hand dug both ponds, placed liners in each and covered each site with leaf litter to minimise the risk of vandalism whilst rainfall was awaited expectantly.
Pond 1 - Early Digging Stage
Pond 1 - Lining Stage
Pond 2 - Advanced Digging Stage
Pond 2 - Lined & Covered
Some rainwater has subsequently part-filled the ponds, but more is required. The recent warm and sunny period has done little to help this being achieved. Planting up of the ponds will be led by Groundwork during the Autumn, when they will engage with the local school to help.
The existing pond on the recreation ground at Dale Road in Spondon has been subject to a virulent occurrence of two highly invasive aquatic plant species; Crassula helmsii, New Zealand Pygmyweed, and Myriophyllum aquaticum, Parrot's-feather. Both plants were introduced as an oxygenating plant for garden ponds in the 1920s. Somehow it has found its way into the Dale Road pond and its concentration is now so intense that the pond is beyond "economical repair" without killing most of its contents.
To ensure that the amphibians and invertebrae presently in the pond stand a chance of survival, the WAP Project has come to its aid. At a regular WAP Management Team meeting, held on 22nd January, the following action plan was agreed by representatives from Derby City Council Parks, Derby City Council-WildDerby, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, BTCV, Groundwork and DCPWA:
Activities 1, 2, 3 and 6 have now been completed, with fencing off taking place on 23rd April and digging of the new pond taking place the following week. Activity 4 will take place when conditions are suitable, whilst Activity 5 following around September/October 2010, during a dry period.
The Existing Pond; Fenced Off on 3rd May
The New Pond; Holding Water on 3rd May
Pat Sear, our Pond Warden for Allestree Park, has provided the following report of work undertaken to date.
Further to the excellent lake restoration work at Allestree Park, reported uponin our Spring 2010 issue, there has now been a transformation at the Burley Brook Pond which was sadly in need of attention. A lot of tree work has taken place along the brook removing sycamore trees and improving the flow of the brook, but the pond, near the new bridge by the main driveway, had completely overgrown and silted up.
The restoration work took place in May over two days, with the pond being completely re-dug by mechanical digger, after the aquatic plants had been carefully removed and stored by BTCV. Steve Wright, with BTCV colleagues, replanted saved plants the following day and made good the edging leaving a well filled and healthy looking pond, ready for habitation. The surrounding area is already beginning to grass over and the water retention seems good.
"Dave the Digger" in Operation
Finished Pond - Burley Brook
Trevor Taylor, our Derbyshire Wildlife Trust project member, has provided the following report of work undertaken to date. Amphibian surveys have been completed at Chellaston Brickworks,
Education Pond (Alvaston), Radbourne Gate (Mickleover), Sinfin Golf, Sinfin Moor, West Park Meadow (Spondon) and Chaddesden Park. PSYM surveys have also been completed for some of these, and the combined survey data will be used to produce the initial Management Reports early in the next quarter. Early indications suggest that Chaddesden Park and Sinfin Moor will return high PSYM scores.
Nigel Barker (Pond Warden for Sinfin Moor) and Trevor spent some time at the ponds during the week commencing 26th April 2010. They found Reed Bunting in the reed bed of the original pond together with good numbers of toad tadpoles. The new "donut" pond and the shallow pond opposite have both been colonized by Stonewort, although confirmation of the exact species will have to wait until later in the year. A torchlight survey on 29th April found good numbers of smooth newt in both these ponds. The more "remote" pond towards the Rolls Royce boundary looked to have GCN potential but unfortunately the torchlight survey revealed only a small number of smooth newt.
A group of intrepid Pond Wardens, comprising Pat Sear, Claire Spencer, Nigel Barker, Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Allison Martin, Philip Ollerenshaw, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson, met up at 21:30 hours on a Sunday evening with the objective of finding Great Crested Newts (GCN) at an undisclosed site. Led by Trevor Taylor of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who has a GCN licence, we searched a number of ponds on the site and were successful in one of them to find at least 20 GCNs by torchlight. Smaller numbers of Smooth Newts were also found. This was a first for many of those attending, and our findings have been sent back to the site owners, together with an offer to help to "maintain" the well-being of their ponds.
Pair of Great Crested Newts
Spot the Great Crested Newt!
Despite the weather turning foul on Thursday evening, around 30 people turned out to carry out some educational and conservation work on Mickleover Meadows. As a part of this, there had been a request to DCPWA to help the 5th Mickleover Brownies with a Pond Dipping evening on the three Meadows Ponds.
The intrepid Pond Wardens comprised Claire Spencer, Philip Ollerenshaw, Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Allison Martin and Pat Sear, plus Carole Marsh from FoMM. We arrived dressed for the weather, thinking we would be sent back home within five minutes, but no, one by one, ten smiling brownies turned up with their helpers, full of expectation.
After a brief introduction and safety talk we all headed for the 'New' pond in the far corner of the meadow, the pond is still a murky brown colour as the clay refuses to settle, so our expectations were not high. The brownies paired off and armed with net and tray, copied Vanessa's demonstration of the art of netting. There were soon shouts of excitement as their efforts were rewarded with success and after a good 15 to 20 minutes. our tally included lesser waterboatmen, water skaters and a pond snail. The Loch Ness monster promised by Peter Roberts eluded them.
The downpour continued and the girls got increasingly soggy, but were keen to move on to the Bridge Pond and the Old Pond. Vanessa and Allison had half the group at the Bridge Pond where they hoped to find newts spotted earlier in the day and the rest went to the Old Pond, which is in a bit of a sorry state due to recent tree work. We had very little success apart from getting the girls incredibly muddy. Daphnia and midge larva were the only prize at the old pond, the masses of frog spawn seen a month ago had vanished, not a tadpole in sight. The Bridge Pond was a little better but no newts, perhaps they don't like rain!
When it was time to finish it was all made worthwhile by the obvious delight the Brownies took in the whole event, in spite of the awful weather they loved it. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.
Arboretum Park (Normanton) was chosen for this year's annual event; the fifth in DCPWA's short lifespan. We were treated to temperatures close to 30 degrees centigrade during the day, with nearly 100 visitors to cater for of various ethnic backgrounds, including a family on holiday from Malaysia. Pond Warden helpers for the day included Maggie Cooper, Pat Sear, George Daly, Helen Wright, Philip Ollerenshaw, Heather Bryant and Derek Golson.
DCPWA Gazebo & Wares
Adults enjoying some Pond Dipping
This pond does not possess a resident Pond Warden as yet, so we took the opportunity to undertake both OPAL Water and Metal Surveys. As the pond was rich in fish, including large goldfish, we were pleasantly surprised to find quite a good range of invertebrae. These included Tadpoles (by the score), Pond and Ramshorn Snails, Leeches, Hoglice, Mayfly Larvae,
Freshwater Shrimp, Water Beetle (incl a Scavenger Beetle), Lesser and Greater Water Boatmen and Pond Skaters. The invasive plant, Parrots Feather, was much in evidence on one side of the pond, and Trevor Taylor of DWT also identified another (Crassula) which we removed. The OPAL Water Survey returned a score of 28, which equates to "this pond is quite healthy".
Markeaton Park was the venue for Derbyshire's first ever Bioblitz. DCPWA supported the event in a number of ways. Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson undertook a survey of the lake on the 5th June and submitted around 20 invertebrate records towards the target of 500, before going on the Wild Wander Walk and Bat Watch events. Then, the following day, they, accompanied by Philip Ollerenshaw, Claire Spencer and Sue Deepwell, resourced the DCPWA gazebo and help with pond-dipping during the wild water walks to the brook and lake. Two members of the public expressed an interest in becoming a Pond Warden.
After a bit of a slow start to the public day on the Sunday, probably due to the overnight thunderstorms, nearly 25 people joined the first water walk of the day, which doubled to over 50 for the afternoon session. Catches included a bullhead (Miller's Thumb) and barbel in the brook, whilst the lake yielded Lesser and Greater Water Boatmen, Water Hoglouse, Freshwater Shrimp, Ramshorn and Pond Snails, Leech, Flatworm, Bloodworm, Mayfly and Alderfly Larvae, Pea and Swan Mussels (little and large!) and Caddisfly. Banded Demoiselle and Blue-Tailed Damselfly were also flying around the lake fringes.
Pond Dipping in Full Flow - Markeaton Park on 6th June
George Daly and Helen Wright managed this event, as it was co-incident with Bioblitz, and provided the following report. The thunderstorms through the early morning with torrential rain, brought back memories of last year when The Big One was cancelled, but Day of Pondomania went ahead. However, by 08.30am the rain had stopped and the day remained warm and dry.
Visitors were few as the carnival proved too much of a distraction, but those who did pond dip were enthusiastic and appreciative. A variety of creatures were discovered, including dragonfly nymph, damsel and mayfly nymph, young newts and masses of tadpoles. Some had already
turned into young frogs and were abundant around the edges of the pond. Earlier in the week we had spotted a discarded shell of an emergent dragon fly and had managed to salvage it for closer inspection which visitors also enjoyed.
The pond is set in a peaceful location within the park and while we were waiting for visitors we enjoyed the pond and its wildlife ourselves. We witnessed Broad bodied chaser dragonfly mating and then laying eggs in the pond and a female blackbird catching damsel flies for her young chicks. Thanks go to Pat Sear and Michael Bardill for their assistance and company.
Pond and Marsh Area - Chaddesden Park on 6th June
This year's annual event, again led by Trevor Taylor of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, was held at the Arboretum Park pond in Normanton. Pond Wardens receiving their first training included Philip Ollerenshaw, Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Vince Gunn and George Daly, whilst Nigel Barker, Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson attended for refresher purposes. We also had the local Park Ranger (Craig Spacey) attend the session, who I am pleased to announce has since become our official Pond Warden for the site.
Invertebrates finds included Freshwater Shrimp, Pond Skater, Lesser Water Boatman, Pond Snail, Ramshorn Snail, Leech, Water Hoglice and Worms, which gave us an ASPT score of 3.625. Unfortunately, no dragonflies or water beetles were found. We also located 19 species of water plants, which included a couple of rarities in the form of Rigid Hornwort and a Starwort. These gave us a TRS score of 8.61, indicating a slightly nutrient poor location. Analysis of our results took place in the beautiful surroundings of the on-site orangery.
The Pond Wardens went home armed with their new-found knowledge, and ready to undertake surveys on their "own" ponds during the months of June, July and August.
OPAL Water and Metal Survey packs were recently obtained from OPAL HQ by our Secretary. Some of our Pond Wardens have taken advantage of these, and water and metal surveys have been completed at Allestree Park, Chaddesden Park, Porters Lane, Chaddesden Wood and Arboretum Park. Data acquired for some of these has already been input on-line, and OPAL staff commented at Bioblitz that Derby data had recently been received and thought it was courtesy of DCPWA. So, keep the surveys rolling and, if you have not already got one, get a pack from Maggie before they all go! We now are having an internal competition to see who gets the highest score!
A new pond has recently been dug next to the Porters Lane pond on Oakwood. Whilst not conforming to Pond Conservation guidelines for new ponds, the garden entity has already attracted a frog.
New Lined Pond in Oakwood
New Resident - A Frog
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 programme for 2010 has been agreed, which includes our quarterly meeting for Pond Wardens, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining the DCPWA. All meetings will be held in the Council Offices along Corporation Street, Derby and commence at 19:00 hours. It would be great to hear from you or see you there. Further details can be found on the DCPWA web site, which is located at www.dcpwa.org.uk.