Since our Spring 2011 publication, more tasks within its Wild About Ponds project have been completed but the pace has significantly slowed. Part of the slowing has been attributable to a re-organisation within Derby City Council Parks Department and establishing revised working arrangements, part planned. Work completed included repairing the lined pond at The Arboretum, willow thinning at Heatherton and further DWT Pond Management Plan reporting.
Work on this project was formally launched in March 2010, and has now moved well 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 of the DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk).
Information on the digging and lining of a new pond were included in our Spring 2011 publication. Since that time, problems have been experienced with the liner with the subsequent loss of all holding water. Investigations identified a puncture about the size of a ten-pence piece. BTCV successfully re-instated the new pond on 19th April 2011, by laying a good depth of sand laid over old liner, fitting a new liner and doubled over any surplus, adding a good depth of soil and then turfing over any exposed liner.
Re-lining the new pond
Lined, sanded and turfed
After extensive discussions on what to do with the displaced willow trees, BTCV were finally able to remove carefully selected areas of bankside willow trees closest to the road at Heatherton pond on 20th, 21st and 26th April 2011. The areas of willow trees had been identified by Trevor Taylor of DWT, to help create 6-7 bays of open water to improve light and encourage growth of emergent vegetation.
Information boards were erected to inform the public on the object of the exercise and tremendous feedback was received from passers-by. The displaced willow was neatly stacked by BTCV, awaiting chipping by Derby City Council.
Clearing willow trees - before
Clearing willow trees - after
The Sanctuary (Pride Park) has been selected as an Ark site to protect this species, which is threatened by the signal crayfish. Professor Rogers has issued a proposal which is now under review by Derby City Council. WAP will not provide funding for this work as it is outside the scope of the project, and an alternative source will be sought in due course.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have completed all of the amphibian, invertebrate and plant surveys for 2010, and formal issues of resulting Management Reports began in the last period. Further reports for Porters Lane (Oakwood) and Chellaston Brickworks LNR were made in this period, and these have been forwarded to the relevant DCPWA Pond Warden and Chairman of the local Friends Group (where applicable). Surveys for the second tranche of sites (for 2011) have also commenced, and all amphibian surveys have been completed for the year.
The report for Porters Lane (Oakwood) reflected a good Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score) of 67%; a significant 34% improvement on its score for 2004/5. The major contributor to the PSYM was the increase in species of aquatic plants (12) and invertebrates (18), with yellow loosestrife and rigid hornwort of particular note. Whilst not contributing to the PSYM score, the site was also noteworthy for its numbers of smooth newts, common frogs and common toads.
The report for Chellaston Brickworks LNR reflected some concerns of the retention of water within the four ponds on the site, which prevented a PSYM score being derived for all but one pond as they had dried out at the planned survey period. The report made recommendations on how water can be better retained, which will be implemented by the WAP Project in a future phase.
Similar reports for the ponds at Allestree Park, Education (Alvaston), West Park Meadow (Spondon) and Chaddesden Park are nearing completion.
A WAP torchlight amphibian survey by Trevor Taylor on 24th March 2011 sourced a large amount of frogspawn, a single common frog, good numbers of smooth newts and, surprisingly, over 30 common toads. The pond had initially been chosen for Chytridiomycosis surveys on newts only. However, on finding the large number of toads, the scope of the survey was expanded to include them as well as the requirement was for any pond holding over 30 amphibians (newts and toads only). The collection of swab samples is being done by volunteers from Amphibian and Reptile Groups across the country, whilst the analysis is being undertaken by the Zoological Society of London's Institute of Zoology and is funded by Defra.
Following a call to the consultant (Darryn Nash), the planned date of the survey was brought forward a couple of weeks to 25th March 2011. Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson assisted Darryn and his colleague in catching and bagging 28 toads and 2 newts, following which they were individually swabbed and then returned to the pond. Amongst the toads were four females, of which two were in the amplexus position with a male, and remained in that position throughout the entire swabbing process!
Bagged Toads and Newts
Toad Swabbing in Process
So, Porters Lane (Oakwood), can lay claim to being the first Derbyshire pond to undergo the Chytrid survey. Let's hope it delivers a negative result, which will not be known for over a year. Further information on the deadly chytrid fungus can be found on the ARG-UK web site at www.arguk.org, or the ZSL web site at www.zsl.org.
A group of intrepid Pond Wardens, comprising Pat Sear, Nigel Barker, Philip Ollerenshaw, Kelvin Lawrence, Heather Bryant, Mike Bardill, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson, met up at 22:00 hours
on a Sunday evening with the objective of finding Great Crested Newts (GCN) at an undisclosed site. With Trevor Taylor of DWT, we searched a number of ponds on the site and were successful in one of them to find at least 10 GCNs by torchlight. The male GCNs were witnessed displaying to females by wagging their white-flashed tails. Smaller numbers of Smooth Newts were also found.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson visited the newly created site off Raynesway, courtesy of a DWT led walk on 11th May 2011. The visit uncovered at least five stretches of open water and discussions with Julia Gow (DWT) during the walk highlighted an interest in DCPWA including the ponds in their scope of work. This has subsequently been confirmed with Trevor Taylor and Vicki Robinson will be our Pond Warden for the site. Vicki will be liaising with Trevor Taylor and Kelvin Lawrence (our pond warden for Sinfin Moor). Kelvin is writing a Management Report for the site as a whole, as part of his studies.
Sinfin Moor Nature Reserve was chosen for this year's annual event; the sixth in DCPWA's history. We were treated to a showery morning, which brightened in the afternoon when visitors to Sinfin's Nature Club swelled the numbers to nearly 50 visitors for the day. Pond Warden helpers included Nigel Barker, Kelvin Lawrence, Maggie Cooper, Pat Sear, Vince Gunn, Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Claire Spencer, George Daly and Derek Golson. The Friends of Sinfin Moor, who run the monthly Nature Club, also provided valuable help and welcome refreshments for everybody for the entire day.
Pond Dipping in Full Flow
Obviously, an interesting find!
The resident Pond Wardens (Nigel and Kelvin) helped lead the pond-dipping, which uncovered a good range of invertebrates and amphibians in relatively low water levels given the recent dry spell of weather. These included Tadpoles (both frog and toad), Hoglouse, Mayfly Larvae, Emerald Damselfly Larvae, Dragonfly Larvae, Freshwater Shrimp, Water Beetle, Water Boatmen, Worms, Pond Skater, excellent Caddisfly Larvae and very young Smooth Newts.
Pat Sear led our visit to this Natural England site this year and provided the following report and pictures. Chartley Moss is one of England's largest floating bogs; a raft of peat about 3m thick floats on a 13m deep lake. Trees growing in the peat sink through the surface and drown as they mature. This leaves the dead trunks poking half out of the moss. The pools and ditches support
a high diversity of dragonfly species, including the nationally important White-faced Darter, Leucorrhinia dubia. The visit started well in that we all managed to find the venue this time. Twelve of us joined about half a dozen others for a guided walk around the reserve led by Mel Brown of Natural England. The weather was slightly against us again, although dry there was a slight gale blowing and our chance of seeing dragonfly was extremely unlikely. We had an interesting walk, bouncing on the bog and observing sundew and bog rosemary. Eventually at the furthest pond we finally found one white-faced darter and an emerald damselfly, a mad flurry of cameras ensued, it was such a relief to have finally succeeded. There were a few more sightings after that and also of the Green Hairstreak Butterfly which is also typical of this habitat. A good time was had by all.
Chartley Moss Floating Bog & Ponds
White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia)
George Daly (our local Pond Warden) and Vanessa Amaral-Rogers were the sole providers of a pond-dipping event advertised by the Friends of Chaddesden Park. The early sunshine was soon replaced by torrential rainfall, which resulted in the event being abandoned by midday. However, five young lads enjoyed their two-hour dipping sessions!
Orange Foxtail (Alopecurus aequalis)
Water Mint & Mares Tail
Following a request from Friends of Mickleover Meadows, Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson agreed to help with a pond dipping session for a group of Girl Guides. The evening was fine, but the water was lacking in all but the 'New' pond which remains a thick red soup. We completed a preliminary dip, which showed some life including water boatmen, pond skaters, a water beetle and with great excitement a young smooth newt.
The first session ended and we swapped to the second group for 10 minutes when Sadie arrived. Sadie is a 'bitch' dog who loves water and spent the next 20 minutes charging about from one end of the pond to the other. We finally had to call it a day as she emerged, having totally trashed our pond, with pond creatures traumatised. Enlightened we made our way home, knowing why our 'New' pond is never going to look any better than its present murky state.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson supported the Friends of Sinfin Moor Park in their event this year, which covered four classes from local primary schools in pond-dipping. However, the challenge this year was that all 14 ponds on the site had dried out following the prolonged warm weather! So, the day reverted to four one-hour walks around three of the ponds, where we discussed the good and bad features of a pond, the lifecycle of dragonflies and damselflies, and the various plants you are likely to see in ponds. A selection of common aquatic plants were taken as specimens for the children to create their collages. An interesting day evolved from a potential disaster, and the children enjoyed their visit and wanted more next year.
Trevor Taylor (DWT) led us on our annual pond survey training, where the relatively new (2009) Chaddesden Park pond was the venue for this year. A total of 10 pond wardens braved the sharp showers to listen to the techniques and methodology to identify plants and invertebrates, from which a PSYM score can be derived.
Aquatic plants identified included 20 different species; Lesser Bullrush, Flowering Rush, Marsh Marigold, Yellow Flag Iris, Mares Tail, Common Water Plantain, Orange Foxtail, Purple Loosestrife, Water Mint, Rigid Hornwort, White Water Lily, Water Starwort, Common Duckweed, Brook Lime, Greater Willow Herb, Water Forget-me-Not and Fringed Water Lily in the main pond, whilst the 'marsh' pond added Greater Spearwort, Sharp Flowered Rush and Marsh Foxtail. Invertebrates were more limited, but we did net Greater Pond Snail, Leech, Water Slater (Hoglouse), Ramshorn Snail, Pond Skater, Midge Larvae, Pea Mussel and Freshwater Shrimp.
Pond-Dipping by Mesohabitats
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Further to the session held on 14th June, Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson agreed to help the Friends of Mickleover Meadows with pond dipping sessions for a group of Beavers and Scouts. The evening started fine, but water was still lacking in all but the 'New' pond which remains a thick red soup.
A total of 19 Beavers and 32 Scouts had the pond dipping techniques explained to them, together with the usual health and safety brief on how to avoid falling in the pond and get a net handle in the eye. We found water boatmen, pond skaters and, with great excitement, a small number of young smooth newts. Thankfully, Sadie the dog did not arrive, but two Labradors did have a small swim in the pond between the two sessions.
By the time the rain started just as we were packing away, the concept of applying a dead-hedge barrier to the pond seemed ever more appealing if we are to stop dogs taking their daily swims and provide a safer haven for invertebrates and amphibians alike.
The theme of this years (and the last of three) OPAL funding application was 'Sharing your Skills'. Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson, kindly assisted by Vanessa Amaral-Rogers and Trevor Taylor, submitted their application at the end of January. Their proposal was based on running public education courses on ponds and their inhabitants at three age levels, and on 18th March 2011 they received the fantastic news that they had been granted the full amount of £2,330.
Funds had been transferred to the DCPWA bank account by OPAL before the end of April 2011, after which the project plan was drafted and work began in anger with re-validating the costs of purchasing a new Laptop, PC Projector and USB Microscope to support the identification process and the practical workshops. Meanwhile, Maggie Cooper was leading the Level 1 Work Package, which involved sharing our skills at novice level with primary and secondary schoolchildren, whilst Derek Golson led the Level 2 equivalent, which covered expert level knowledge-sharing with adults. To deliver this, we are planning to utilise the skills of recognised experts in three aquatic wildlife domains; odanata, invertebrates/plants and amphibians.
To date, we have purchased 12 new Reference Books (now part of the DCPWA Library and for use at Level 2), five Pond Dipping Kits (for Level 1 use), three Magnifying Glasses (for Level 1/2 usage) and contracted experts for the odanata (David Goddard) and invertebrates/plants (Trevor Taylor) workshops (both at Level 2).
Both 'Expert' workshops will be held at the Sinfin Moor Community Centre and LNR, Sinfin Lane, DE24 9HW (OS ref SK347314) as follows:
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.
The Big Society was seen in action at the Porters Lane (Oakwood) pond on 10th April 2011, when eight local residents, including Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson from DCPWA, repainted the wrought iron fencing surrounding the site. Using preparation materials and paint kindly supplied by Alf Bousie of DCC Parks, the group rubbed down flaking paint on the 15 fence panels, applied primer to exposed parts and then applied five litres of black Hammerite paint. Let's hope it lasts for another 10 years!
Notice any changes to the quality of this Newsletter from previous issues? If you do, please get in touch with us. We have had to change printers, as the one employed for last year attempted to increase our prices by over 30%! Our budget was unable to accommodate that, so Glenwood Printing was approached and are now producing them for this year; back at the original budget level thank goodness.
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 2011 has now 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.
A new and permanent venue for future meetings, following the closure of our usual Derby City Council facilities for refurbishment, 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 last for only two hours, as we all prefer practical sessions around the ponds in preference to indoor meetings. 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.
Interested in identifying aquatic invertebrates, plants, dragonflies and damselflies such as these?
Workshop places are open to the public, but will be limited to 30 places (see above). Please ring Maggie Cooper on 01332-830657, or email d c p w a @ aol.com, to secure yourself a FREE seat.