Since our Spring 2013 publication, as we currently have no grant work open, we have fully reverted to recording core activities of the DCPWA volunteers.
You will know doubt be aware that our three-year Wild About Ponds project closed on 31st December 2012. So, it was with some surprise, when Kate Collis from SITA Trust rang us up asking to view some of the completed work. Wild Derby would normally have hosted Kate, who was the SITA Trust Project Manager for the WAP Project.
So, on a sunny 4th April 2013, Kate drove up from Gloucestershire to have a look around the Chaddesden Wood and Porters Lane (Oakwood) ponds. Hosted by Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson, Kate was impressed with the water retention methods and dead-hedging on the main Chaddesden Wood pond, whilst Porters Lane water levels were both clear and full and the newly discovered Water Starwort planted highlighted. We think we got a "tick" on both sites!
Local infant and primary schools have followed up their interest in our PINE Level 1 Education Pack after the OPAL "Escape from the Classroom" conference held in February 2013.
Chellaston Infants School was visited on 12th April 2013, when we provided management plan advice on improvements to their new pond. This was followed by a similar visit to Mickleover Silverhill Primary School on 1st May 2013. Both schools have provisionally shown an interest in our plans to "Train the Trainer" in PINE Level 1 delivery.
Chellaston Infants School Pond
Mickleover Silverhill Primary School Pond
Derek Golson represented DCPWA at the inaugural Derby Green Spaces Forum, held at Alvaston Park on 15th April 2013. A useful session, hosted by Duncan Cowie of DCC Parks, with assistance from his three regional Parks Managers. A number of questions were raised and feedback from one (who will be the DCPWA point of contact?) came back with the reply of Duncan Cowie for general DCPWA matters, or regional managers on points specific to a particular pond. A second forum was subsequently held at Sinfin Moor LNR on 24th June 2013.
April was a busy month for amphibian surveys, and our two new Cluson Torches have been put to good use to support the surveys and toad crossings. The following sites were surveyed:
Good quantities of frogs (or frogspawn), toads and newts were found under late-evening torchlight surveys on all of the sites listed, and records have been despatched to Chris Monk of the Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group (DARG). Numbers were a little down on 2012, but toads were recorded for the first time at Sunnydale and the second survey at Porters Lane (Oakwood) pond had seen Smooth Newt numbers balloon from c.100 on the first visit to over 250.
Frogspawn at Alvaston Community NA
Porters Lane (Oakwood) Pond
Pond Conservation is the national charity dedicated to protecting the wildlife of our freshwaters: ponds, rivers, streams and lakes, and Dr Jeremy Biggs is its Director. We met Jeremy when we visited the House of Lords last year to celebrate the first phase of the Million Ponds project.
At our last Pond Wardens meeting in March 2013, we discussed DWT's vision to expand the DCPWA concept across the county of Derbyshire and Trevor Taylor is leading this initiative. We believed that such an initiative would be better served by having Pond Conservation support to it. So, on 22nd April 2013, a Derbyshire quartet comprising Trevor Taylor, Beverley Rhodes, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson drove down to Oxford-Brookes University for a meeting with Jeremy to discuss our vision and compare it with his.
Jeremy Biggs outlined the Pond Conservation plans for Flagship Ponds, PondNet and Chemical Water Test Kits, whilst DWT and DCPWA outlined their plans as to how DCPWA might be rolled out across the county. Funding would have to be acquired to deliver the county vision, and Pond Conservation would support any proposal provided it was aligned with their own objectives. It was agreed that both parties would document their own proposals and potential funding sources, for a second meeting. Any funding application would be made by Autumn 2013.
Our key public event for the year was held at the Turtle Pond at Allestree Park, which provides a safe environment with good biodiversity for pond-dipping. Helpers for the event included Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper, Kelvin Lawrence, Nigel Barker, Penny Halfpenny and Derek Golson.
Nearly 90 visitors arrived during the course of the bright and sunny afternoon, and invertebrates caught included smooth newts (male and female), mayfly larvae, damselfly larvae, dragonfly larvae, numerous tadpoles, hoglouse, daphnia, leech, great pond snail, ramshorn snail, pond skater, diving beetle larvae, water boatmen and a very large diving beetle which was caught by one of the youngest dippers!
Public feedback on the event was very positive, with 21 out of 22 returns classifying the event as either very good or excellent. Thanks to the helpers!
Intrepid Pond Wardens, Pat Sear, Claire Spencer and Roger Miller, ably assisted by Steve Plant and Edwin Slade (Friends of Allestree Park members) took part in the pond dip at the Allestree Park Turtle Pond in front of Allestree Hall on a wonderfully warm Saturday afternoon. There was lots to be found by young and old alike.
Allestree Park - Turtle Pond
Smooth Newt - Male and Female
Over 70 people participated and a wide variety of species were caught and identified. There were many hundreds of tadpoles, which we thought may be toad tadpoles, and several common or smooth newts of both sexes.
Roger Miller (resident Pond Warden), Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson hosted ten children and their teacher from the local Gayton Primary School on a pond dip at the newly restored Sunnydale Park pond. The event was part of a range of environmental activities arranged through the Friends of Littleover Parks.
Yellow Flag Iris had created a colourful pond margin around most of its perimeter, and invertebrates caught by the children included freshwater shrimp, hoglouse, pond snail, water boatmen and many stickleback fish (both small and not so small). Whilst the biodiversity may seem low in numbers of species, one has to remember that the pond was completely emptied to remove a large amount of silt as recently as February 2012. So, couple with the identification of frog and toads, the biodiversity in the pond is beginning to re-establish itself.
On 13th June 2013, Derek Golson represented DCPWA in a Friends of Littleover Parks event to formally open the new pond dipping platform at the site. The old one was tired and had been removed as part of the Wild About Ponds restoration. The headteacher of Gayton Primary School performed the official opening.
The Friends of Chaddesden Park, incorporating George Daly and Helen Wright as the resident Pond Wardens, held their advertised public event at the two ponds on Father's Day. The ponds had become a little overcrowded with bulrushes, so an area on both ponds was cleared to provide open water spaces for dipping prior to the event.
The day was dry and warm and at the start time of midday, around 10 families and a group of disabled youngsters from Rainbow, with their carers, arrived all at once! Two families had even bought nets especially for the event, after seeing it advertised on posters within the park. Every dip was successful in both ponds - and previous visitors even remembered that we try and keep the ponds separate by using different nets and trays!
Chaddesden Park - Main Pond
The following creatures were caught during the four hour session -giant pond snail, ramshorn snail, water scorpion (various sizes), dragonfly nymph (possibly chaser in large pond and hawker in Marsh pond), frog tadpoles, young newt, smooth newt - male and female, pond skater, water boatman, leech, flatworm, hog louse, scavenger beetle and damselfly larva.
All the families were enthusiastic and really appreciated this event. Around 50 people visited the ponds during the allotted 4 hours, and many stayed for well over an hour. Thanks to Roger Miller, Penny Halfpenny, Pat Sear and Clare Spencer for their help during the day.
DCPWA was contacted by Mrs Langford from Roe Farm Primary School in Chaddesden following the publication of our PINE circular (see PINE article below). The school were seeking advice on the creation of a new wildlife pond in their wildlife area.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson visited the proposed site on 21st June 2013, identified their requirements and outlined a number of options to satisfy them. We look forward to monitoring their progress in the creation of another new pond.
Trevor Taylor, our ponds consultant, gave of his own free time to give our annual pond survey training to both experienced and novice pond wardens. Pond Wardens included George Daly, Helen Wright, Maggie Cooper, Mike Bardill, Ian Sanders, Penny Halfpenny, Anne Morgan, Roger Miller and Derek Golson, whilst we also had in attendance Matt and Kim Bell (Matt is doing his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award), and Alice Fitzpatrick (a volunteer at Elvaston Castle).
George and Helen, as resident Pond Wardens for the site, took the opportunity to capture findings on pH and conductivity levels, invertebrates and aquatic plants types in each of the two ponds, with the aim of using the filed data to derive the PSYM score for each pond. The PSYM gives a biodiversity indicator, and the aim is to increase the score year-on-year by routine maintenance and observations.
Pond Surveys - Theory Session
Eggs of Pond Snail (laid on a leaf)
The main pond recorded 17 types of aquatic plants and 11 types of macroinvertebrates, whilst the marsh pond yielded 16 plants and 10 macroinvertebrates. DCPWA has now been provided with a copy of the PSYM macro, so they can derive the PSYM score themselves.
All Pond Wardens are urged to survey their own ponds during July and August, so that we can measure whether the work undertaken in the previous year and, in particular, by our Wild About Ponds project, has improved local biodiversity in the ponds. Send you field trip data to DCPWA to allow them to derive your PSYM scores.
Now becoming an annual pilgrimage for DCPWA members, Beverley Rhodes led the visit this year. Pond Wardens attending included Pat Sear, Mike Bardill, Ian Sandars, Maggie Cooper, George Daly, Helen Wright, Penny Halfpenny, Heather Bryant and Derek Golson.
The day was sunny, but a bit windy. Nevertheless, the rare White-Faced Darter was in evidence on the main pond. We also noted Four-Spot Chasers, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Large Red Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly. Butterflies included Yellow Brimstone and Green Hairstreak, whilst birds included a Raven and a Harrier passing through.
Observations at the Main Pond
Sundew Bog Plant
Having developed a syllabus for after-school workshops as part of its PINE project, with subsequent pilot delivery at Oakwood Primary School in 2012, DCPWA were keen to offer this opportunity to other Derby junior and primary schools. Given their resource limitations, DCPWA felt this was only viable if we trained the trainers for its subsequent delivery. Consequently, DCPWA developed a "Ponds in Nature Explorers club - Ponds as a Teaching Resource" article in April, which was subsequently published via a schools circular to all Derby schools during the week commencing 13th May 2013.
Schools had until 30th June 2013 to express an interest, from which 6-7 have provisionally booked places. Maggie Cooper will deliver two three-hour "Train the Trainer" sessions on 12th September 2013 and 6th March 2014 at the Mickleover (Silverhill) Primary School pond site. For a small £25 donation to DCPWA, each participating school will receive two "Train the Trainer" sessions, both hard and electronic copies of the pupil education packs and management advice on their own pond.
The response has been patchy, but encouraging nevertheless, with seven schools taking up the offer. Mickleover (Silverhill) Primary School has been prominent in its engagement and has offered its own pond as a venue for the two "Train the Trainer" sessions. In return, DCPWA has already undertaken an amphibian survey on their pond, which will be followed up with a formal pond survey on 9th July 2013.
There is still limited time to take up the offer, so interested schools should contact DCPWA as soon as possible by email at d c p w a @ aol.com, or by ringing 01332-830657.
Following an agreement by members at our last Pond Wardens meeting held in March 2013, your Committee have been at work spending some of its hard-earned funds to purchase the following:
St John Fisher Primary School - Pond Dipping Kits Presentation
Another reminder to all of our Pond Wardens that we now hold an extensive collection of tools and equipment to help you in your management and surveying tasks. These range from drag rakes, spades, forks and a wheelbarrow for pond management work, to pond nets (of all sizes), trays, ID guides and reference books for pond surveys, to high-powered torches for amphibian surveys and IT tools for presentations.
Callum Davey has taken on the role of Pond Warden for the lake and new wildlife pond on Alvaston Park. Derek Golson and members of the Friends of Alvaston Park met Callum on site on 19th April 2013, and we all agreed the new working arrangements. Welcome aboard Callum!
In recognition of Wild Derby's contribution in helping to set up DCPWA in 2006, we invited Beverley Rhodes to a celebration event at the Blue Jay public house on 29th April 2013. Penny Halfpenny, Mike Bardill, Anne Morgan, Maggie Cooper, Trevor Taylor and Derek Golson accompanied Beverley Rhodes in a meal and a drink or two. We are pleased to report that Beverley accepted an invitation to be DCPWA Honorary President on the night.
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 2013 covers our quarterly meeting for Pond Wardens, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining the DCPWA.
A permanent venue for future meetings has been agreed by courtesy of the University of Derby (our kind thanks go to Peter Walker). Meetings will continue to commence at 19:00 hours and further details can be found on the DCPWA web site, which is located at www.dcpwa.org.uk.