Since our Winter 2009 publication, the DCPWA group has been undertaking detailed planning of its three-year Wild About Ponds project, which was formally launched in March. DCPWA has also attended planning meetings on this year's Bioblitz event scheduled for 5/6th June, monitored the ponds at the Earl of Harrington Angling Club, and held its fourteenth and fifteenth Pond Wardens meetings, after snow and ice delayed the former happening as scheduled at the end of 2009.
Work on this project started in January 2010, with a number of management meetings involving the key partners (Wild Derby, DCPWA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, BTCV and Groundwork Derby) evolving a project plan for the three year programme funded by SITA and Derby City Council.
Pat Sear, our Pond Warden for Allestree Park Lake, has provided the following report of work undertaken to date:
Allestree Park in Derby, is one of the largest and most scenic of the City's parks. Although lying on the northern boundary of the city of Derby, it merges with the attractive hilly countryside of the south Peak District fringe. Much of the Park is a golf course, but there are a multitude of different wildlife habitats ranging from woodland to the large lake. Problems identified around the lake required specialist help and visitors to the park this month will notice that improvement work has taken place around the lake. This was to combat bank erosion and to improve public access to the lake.
Typical Bank Erosion Problems at Allestree Park
Work was carried out by BTCV and Groundwork, to provide bank reinforcement and a platform at the duck feeding area. Work started on the 23rd March with a team of enthusiastic volunteers from BTCV, led by Steve Wright, and helpers from DCC Parks Department, which included David Winslow and Gerado Musano.
Over the next few days the foundations for a boardwalk at the duck feeding area were well established and another area of severe bank erosion was filled and retained by the BTCV team.
New Boardwalk Foundations at Allestree Park
In the second week the platform for the boardwalk was complete. It took several more weeks to finish the platform and add the safety rail, but it now provides a safe and far more "family friendly" environment for looking at the lake and feeding the various ducks and geese and other waterfowl that inhabit this lake. Children now run down to the platform with delight and it is a real focal point for the park.
New Boardwalk created at Allestree Park
Sam Maw, from Groundwork Derby & Derbyshire, has provided the following report of work undertaken to date:
The banks of the lower lake at Allestree park are showing signs of advanced erosion caused by a variety of factors. The prevailing wind drives small waves into the bank slowly eating it away, this begins the process of destabilisation further exacerbated by dogs, ducks and fishing paraphernalia. After months and years we have ended up with deep cups in the bankside which, left unmanaged, will end up with the loss of all vegetation, some trees and
even paths. Bankside vegetation is very important to keep the banks stable and to provide calm waterside conditions for invertebrates and amphibians.
Groundwork Derby & Derbyshire in partnership with volunteers from DCPWA and BTCV selected willow lengths from the other side of the lake. These were cut into lengths on site then driven into the lake bed slightly off-shore. These then had thin whips of willow woven between them to create a living willow wall. The water on the inside of the revetment is calm and allows the sediment to build up leading to the successful re-colonisation of the bank with vegetation.
Cutting Willows for Revetments at Allestree Park
The area has now been planted with carefully selected marginal plants, including Yellow flag and Sweet Flag, Phragmites and Purple Loosestrife which it is hoped will become established, and provide a habitat for a wide range of insects and amphibians.
Sam has groups of young people from Portway Infants and Woodlands School coming down to the lake in May to carry out wildflower seeding and to learn more about the importance of ponds and wetlands.
Planting behind the Revetments at Allestree Park
An official WAP Project Launch event was held on site at Allestree Park Lake on 25th March 2010. The day was blessed with good weather and there was representation from each of the key partners for the project. DCPWA provided an Information Stand which explained the
objectives of the project, together with the project plan which explained what was being done when and by whom. Derek Golson (DCPWA Chairman) undertook a short but sweet live interview on BBC Radio Derby to widen the knowledge of the project to the greater public.
In the afternoon, Councillor Robert Troup (Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment for Derby City Council) attended the launch event to make a speech on the importance of the project to the assembled workers, other pond wardens and members of the public. He then cut the cake adorned with the logo of DCPWA, which was duly consumed by everybody at the event and what was left was finished at the DCPWA Pond Warden's meeting held in the evening. Councillor Troup was then shown the work being undertaken by both BTCV and Groundwork Derby on site.
The WAP Key Partners
(Steve Wright - BTCV, Maggie Cooper - DCPWA, Trevor Taylor - DWT, Sam Maw - Groundwork)
Cutting the Cake
(Derek Golson - DCPWA, Beverley Rhodes - Wild Derby, Bob Troup - Derby City Council)
Our local Pond Wardens, Claire Spencer and Alastair Christie, visited the Derwent Valley Angling Club ponds as part of their routine monitoring work on 4th April 2010.
Not surprisingly plant life was still largely in hibernation - just the odd dandelion, speedwell and lesser celandine bold enough to add some colour to a rather desolate landscape. Even the willows verging the ponds and lining the edges of the islands were just only starting to fluff their catkins.
Other points of interest in this area were the continued existence of the mini pond south of the South pond and a noticeable absence of pond lilies. It would seem that the "culling" which the angling club undertook last year has done the trick. Heading towards the North pond, sheep continued to graze in the area and were lambing. However, only a couple of dozen were counted which is a reasonable number for the territory to bear.
At the North pond they were delighted to find that the serious algae pollution of last year had totally disappeared. It was assumed that this has been due to three factors - reduced numbers of sheep, prolonged cold weather and an increased filtration of the pond water due to high river levels. Returning to the South pond, frogs had been busy and deposited a fair volume of spawn in the reeds at the north end of the pond.
Mini Pond (with South Pond behind)
Willows barely coming alive!
Frog spawn at north west corner of the South Pond
Since taking over as the new pond warden for Alvaston Lake, Philip Ollerenshaw has been busy clearing the rubbish from the lake (bottles, cans, plastic bags, etc). This was hampered during the cold spell when the lake was frozen, when it seemed a good idea to throw anything found onto the ice, but since the thaw it is now just a case of keeping it tidy.
Frogs have been mating in the lake and frogspawn has been seen, but this seems to have disappeared. Whether this is due to it hatching out or being eaten by the wildfowl is unsure, but there does not appear to have been any tadpoles seen.
Maggie Cooper, our local Pond Warden, reported that frogspawn was first found within the Chaddesden Wood ponds in Oakwood on 19th March 2010. This was a nearly three weeks later than the same ponds last year, which were logged on 28th February 2009, and is probably accountable to the prolonged cold winter experienced. A re-assuring observation was that one of the new Chaddesden Wood ponds dug last year also held frog spawn, and both it and the original pond are holding very high water levels at present.
Frogs at Chaddesden Wood Pond
Vanessa Amaral-Rogers became our second trained First Aider, when she attended the course of 6/7th February. Vanessa joins Maggie Cooper, who undertook the course last year.
Over seven Pond Wardens attended the talk on the Million Ponds Project, given by Chris Monk of Pond Conservation in Mickleover on 23rd February. DCPWA was proud to be the creator of three of the first five ponds submitted to this project, from their Wild Week on Ponds activities undertaken in June 2009.
Pat Sear and Maggie Cooper represented DCPWA at the launch of the 2010 Wild Derby Events programme held in the Council Offices on 19th March, which was followed by an interesting tour of Civic Chambers hosted by the Lady Mayoress.
Allison Martin became a new Pond Warden in March. Allison was introduced to us via the Derby Volunteer Centre and is undertaking a degree at Derby University. She will be working with Vanessa Amaral-Rogers as the Pond Warden for Elm Wood, which is planned to receive two new ponds as part of our Wild About Ponds project. Welcome aboard, Allison.
Our Secretary, Maggie Cooper, has recently completed a member survey to try and understand how well the Committee is doing at meeting their interests. The results will be published in our next Newsletter.
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 include 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 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.
Note: Some images of Allestree Park kindly provided by Stephen Plant of FoAP.