Since our Autumn 2011 publication, more tasks within its Wild About Ponds project have been completed. Work completed included vegetation removal at Sinfin Moor, pond re-profiling at Chaddesden Park, outline EA approval for Sunnydale Park pond de-silting, bentonite lining on existing ponds at Chellaston Brickworks and the digging of a new one, a Da Vinci college open day and further Pond Management Plan publications.
Work on this project was formally launched in March 2010, and is now over half-waythrough its implementation phase involving the key partners (Wild Derby, DCPWA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, BTCV and Groundwork Derby), in a 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 of the DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk).
In sweltering conditions on 28/29th September 2011, the BTCV volunteer teams successfully removed a vast amount of vegetation (phragmites, typha and willow scrub) and litter from the main pond (Pond No.1) at Sinfin Moor Park LNR. A line was proposed from an alder tree to a willow tree on the banksides during a site survey on 16th September 2011, which we reached on the afternoon of the second day. A considerable amount of root material was excavated too, but care was taken not to dig too far into the clay. This work complied with the recommendations included in the DWT Management Report for the site, issued in January 2011.
Groundwork (Sam Maw) subsequently led a second clearing event on the site on 6th October 2011, when seven volunteers from local Pride Park branch of Barclaycard (formerly Egg) worked tirelessly on removing about 3 tonnes of soil, vegetation and dumped rubbish.
A third tranche of work was completed by BTCV on 17th November 2011, when they cleared a vast amount of vegetation from another pond on the site and deepened it by approximately 200mm. Space limitations prevent pictures being inserted.
Regular readers of our newsletter may remember the Spring 2009 edition, which described the problems with bad weather and 'sticky' clay in the final profiling of these two new ponds adjacent to one another. However, the work was completed and the ponds have developed well since that time, and have now reached some of the highest PSYM scores in Derby.
A combination of the profiling problems and the recent drought conditions has led to one side of the main pond having part of its liner exposed. A survey team from DCC Parks, BTCV and DCPWA visited the site on 30th September 2011 to consider a remedial action plan. They recommended:
This work was completed successfully by BTCV on 15/16th November 2011.
The work breakdown structure for this site, which was the major work pattern for 2011, has had to undergo a significant revision due to a change in approach by Derby City Council Parks. The change has had to incorporate two new elements, a Toxicity Test and Environment Agency (EA) Approval, following a re-structure of DCC Parks and change of personnel. This had had both cost and time implications on this part of the project.
Following clearance on the Toxicity Test of the silt, DCC Parks issued their proposal for the EA. The provision of figures from the EA modelling consultants about the exact outline of the flood zone, so that the options for depositing the excavated silt can be determined, were delayed. However, the EA approval was finally granted on 23rd December 2012 and a new position for the silt agreed which is closer to the pond and minimises disruption to other parts of the park. These two new activities have added about three months to the work breakdown structure for this site. Commercial proposals to undertake the work are expected at DCC by 13th January 2012, with de-silting now slipped to end-January/early-February 2012. Any further delays will impact on the 2012 breeding season, which may then necessitate the site being withdrawn from the project. Work to drain the pond in preparation for de-silting has already been completed.
Groundwork hosted a Da Vinci Community College Nature Reserve Open Day on 20th October 2011, when residents and schoolchildren were invited to explore the reserve, share memories and ideas, use the family activity trail and investigate life at the two ponds. More than 150 school pupils visited over the first two days. Youngsters from St Giles Special School, St Andrews Special School and Breadsall Hilltop Infant School, as well as a host of visitors, investigated the da Vinci Nature Reserve. Rosalind Allen, Groundwork Derby & Derbyshire, led visitors through the undergrowth on a nature trail to identify animals and insects.
Recent newsletters have highlighted the problems with dogs using the new pond at Mickleover Meadows and the WAP Management Team discussed an approach using post/rail and stock fencing. Further surveys have taken place on site and three options were considered; 1) Rabbit proof fencing, 2) Post & wire (stock netting) plus two runs of single strand over, and 3) Post and four rail with stock netting stapled to lower rail. Option 2 was finally implemented by the BTCV team on 13-14th December 2011.
The WAP Management Report highlighted the problems with water retention on most of the four ponds on this site. At the last WAP Management Team meeting, it was agreed that we should purchase a limited amount of the Bentonite powder-based lining product and trial it. BTCV completed this work on 22nd November 2011 and we now await its successful outcome.
After clearing the pond out, laying begins
Tamped down and watered-in
Earlier, on 4th November, Groundwork had led 46 employees of WSP Environment & Energy, from as far afield as Birmingham and Leeds, on a task day which included digging a new pond (No.5) to support a growing amphibian population. Subsequently, part of the BTCV assembled team constructed a dead hedge around the new pond on 22nd November 2011, and WSP have offered 10 bags of bentonite for it.
WSP Environment & Energy Volunteers
A tiring day digging the new pond!
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have completed all of the amphibian, invertebrate and plant surveys for 2010, and formal issues of resulting Management Reports were completed for all but one site. The final report for Chaddesden Park was made in this period, and whilst the two ponds on the site were created less than two years ago, they recorded very respectable PSYM scores of 61% and 67% due to some Derbyshire Red-Book items.
Surveys for the second tranche of sites (for 2011) have also been completed and DWT have published the first Management Report for Elm Wood. Due to the absence of aquatic vegetation and the paucity of invertebrates associated with both of the ponds in Elm Wood, it was not possible to obtain any PSYM scores. DWT are now be preparing the relevant management reports for the remaining sites.
In July 2011, Derek Golson was contacted by a teacher from the Lakeside Community Primary School in Alvaston, to ask whether DCPWA would be prepared to help with their Waterworld Project being undertaken by children aged 7 years. Following agreements on the format of the day, risk assessments and agreements to use DCC Parks facilities, over 50 children and six teachers/parents from the school, joined DCPWA in a pond awareness and dipping day at Allestree Park on 6th October 2011.
DCPWA provided dipping facilities, trays and ID guides, and resources in the guise of Pat Sear (our local Pond Warden for the site), Anne Morgan, Maggie Cooper, Derek Golson and Philip Ollerenshaw, who also brought along two colleagues (Katie and Judy) from the Friends of Alvaston Park. The children were divided into three manageable groups which rotated on hourly sessions around:
Pond Dipping (1)
Pond Dipping (2)
Whilst it was very windy, the rain held off until the schoolchildren boarded their double-decker bus home, and DCPWA had packed their tools away. An enjoyable day was had by all except for one girl, who fell into the pond, but we call that 'getting close to nature'! Invertebrates caught on the day included Smooth Newt, Dragonfly Larvae (including six very large specimens), Damselfly Larvae, Mayfly Larvae, Hoglouse, Freshwater Shrimp, Leech, Red Worm, and Ramshorn and Pond Snails by the score. On top of that, the children were excited to catch a number of goldfish and baby carp.
The ornamental pond next to Allestree Hall is a mystery. It had become extremely congested with vegetation, contains large numbers of fish and the water level is low, but it is and has been
all year, our best, most productive pond dipping site. A recent event with Lakeside Primary School (see above) yielded a great selection. After complaints from the public all summer about the poor state it was in, we agreed to help the Park Ranger to clean up the pond.
In bright sunshine George Daly, Anne Morgan and Pat Sear (our local Pond Warden), along with Bill Grange and Stephen Plant from FOAP and Mick Day the Park Ranger, donned wellies and spent two-three hours raking and cutting our way through the mass of Canadian Pondweed, Water Lily and Iris that were matting together blocking free water. We were joined by Debbie, another Ranger from Darley on her day off, and had a constant stream of delighted park users thanking us for improving 'their' pond.
The annual pond clearance and tidy of the site along Porters Lane (Oakwood) was organised by its pond warden (Derek Golson) and supported by 16 local residents, ranging in ages from 6 to 68. The primary tasks for the day included clearing large amounts of the emergent marginal growth of Reed Sweet-grass and Bulrush, and strimming the grassland, but other work included removing brambles from the pond margins, pruning back the large willow tree at the front of the site, removing sapling trees amongst the established bramble bed on the western part of the site and cleaning the recently renovated black wrought iron fence protecting the site.
However, try as we may, we made little impact on the concentrated reedbed of glyceria and typha in the eastern corner of the pond. So, on 8th December 2011, the 'big guns' were bought in to clear it in the guise of BTCV and ten of its volunteers. Work was funded by a £500 grant from Wild Derby. Care was taken to protect the rare Yellow Loosestrife plant located closeby.
Start of Work...
A joint task team, comprising DCPWA and the West Park Meadow Working Group, cleared an imposing Glyceria bed on the western side of the pond on the morning of 22nd October 2011. DCPWA representatives were Nigel Barker, Pat Sear, Penny Halfpenny, Mike Bardill, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson, whilst David Hayes and WPM colleagues provided eight resources.
The work is part of an annual event for the pond to implement the recommendations of its DWT Management Report, which also included the use of the DCC Ranger's boat to remove litter and debris in the central part of the pond. The work was hard-going as the level of the pond had dropped and the glyceria bed was completely dry, albeit four frogs were disturbed during the process. Care was taken to retain the Common Water-Crowfoot population closeby.
An introduction to our PINE Project was first given in our Summer 2011 Newsletter, and good progress against the plan has been made since. Purchases of all the planned School Pond
Dipping Kits, PC Equipment, Projector and Microscope, and all but one of the Reference Books, has now been completed to time and budget. An Interim Report on the project status was submitted to OPAL on 15th December 2011.
Maggie Cooper leads the Level 1 Work Package, with support from Heather Bryant and Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, and involves sharing our skills at novice level with primary and secondary schoolchildren. The Oakwood School in Alvaston has been the beneficiary of the primary level workshops, and four of the planned ten classroom/field sessions had been completed by the time of going to press. These will re-commence next year, once the weather improves and light evenings return. DCPWA staff helping deliver these sessions has included Maggie Cooper, Heather Bryant, Helen Wright and Philip Ollerenshaw.
Vanessa Amaral-Rogers is leading the secondary level workshops at Da Vinci College, but progress with their Nature Club has been severely hampered by an absence of water in either of their ponds. We hope to make up lost time in the early part of 2012.
Derek Golson leads the Level 2 equivalent, which covers expert level knowledge-sharing with adults. The third and final 'Expert' level workshop will be on Amphibians, and this will be delivered by Chris Monk from the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (DARG). This will also be held at the Sinfin Moor Community Centre, and has now been scheduled for Sunday, 15th April 2012, between the hours of 10:00 and 15:00. Places are open to the public, but will be limited to 30 places. Please ring Maggie Cooper on 01332-830657, or email d c p w a @ aol.com, to secure yourself a FREE seat.
DCPWA have been successful in their Chestnut Fund application to BTCV during October 2011. Tools for future pond clearance work, which include Manure Drags, Forks, Spades, Loppers and an array of Gloves, were secured. Other funds were provided to purchase another two Professional Hand Nets, to complement the three we already hold. Many thanks to BTCV for their generosity!
Clark Field has had to resign his post as Pond Warden for West Park Meadow due to pressure of work. Thankfully, Maggie Cooper represented us at the annual Derby University Volunteering Fair held on 9th November 2011, and met Alexandria Cooper who has agreed to take on the role. Alex has been passed some introductory material to get her started, but this will need to be followed up with a walk of the site. Welcome to the team, Alex!
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 2012 will be agreed soon, which covers our quarterly meeting for Pond Wardens, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining the DCPWA.
A new and permanent venue for future meetings has now 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.