Derby City Pond Warden Association - Summer 2012

Since our Spring 2012 publication, limited work within the Wild About Ponds project has been completed; which included aquatic plant recovery at Sunnydale Pond, successful Bentonite completion on the Chellaston Brickworks ponds and sizing the same requirement at Chaddesden Wood ponds. The Derby City Hospital Management Plan was also published. Much of the spare DCPWA time has been consumed with public pond awareness and dipping events, which was particularly busy during the month of May.

Wild About Ponds (WAP) Project

Work on this project was formally launched in March 2010, and is now half-way through the final year involving the key partners (Wild Derby, DCPWA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, TCV 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).

Sunnydale Park Pond

Our last newsletter reported on the major task of de-silting the pond, which took place during the week commencing 6th February 2012. We also reported the good news that Sunnydale Pond had frogspawn for the first time in many a year. Since then, TCV have re-seeded EP1 on the digger access routes to/from pond and bund areas, after careful ground preparation using spades and raking. TCV also recovered and replanted marginal vegetation around the pond fringes from two store areas around the pond and the bund itself. This work was completed on 12th April 2012.

Sunnydale Park

Marginal Plant Recovery

Sunnydale Park

Marginal Plants Re-Planted

Chellaston Brickworks Ponds

The WAP Management Report highlighted the problems with water retention on the four original ponds on this site. TCV completed the work of laying a Bentonite powder-based lining product on the ponds in November 2011, which has resulted in successful water retention. However, Ponds 1 and 2 have suffered from a small amount of Bentonite separation, resulting in it floating to the surface. TCV have been in contact with the supplier, who has recommended removal of the floating material when the amphibian breeding season is over. Groundwork applied the Bentonite granule-based product to the newly-dug Pond 5; although water retention was initially poor, it is now established. This suggests that the granules take longer to establish than the powder equivalent.

Amphibian torchlight surveys undertaken by DWT and DCPWA staff on the evening of 20th April 2012 showed that good numbers of adult newts and tadpoles had colonised all four original ponds, demonstrating that application of the Bentonite powder solution has been successful. This was the first time that Pond 4 had yielded newts, and all four ponds now have a high probability that the newt breeding lifecycle will complete before the ponds dry out.

Alvaston Park New Pond

Further work to deepen the new pond has been undertaken by Groundwork, in preparation for a Bentonite lining. Initial work was undertaken by sixteen Year 6 schoolchildren. Further work is required from Groundwork and TCV, which will take place in 3Q2012.

Chaddesden Wood Ponds

The original Chaddesden Wood pond was clay-puddled many years ago and currently suffers from poor water retention, albeit it is well frequented by a large population of common frogs and the occasional toad. Three new ponds, sited away from public pathways through the wood, were hand dug as part of the Wild Week on Ponds project in 2009; the butyl-lined one holds water, but it is of poor quality. The two other ponds were dug as scrapes with railway sleepers acting as water holders. These two qualified for the national Million Ponds Project, but water retention here has also been poor.

The WAP management team proposed solution (defined in our last newsletter) was put to the users of the wood at the Chaddesden Wood LNR – 21st Birthday celebration event held on 29th April 2012. The preferred option, together with digging out and laying bentonite, has subsequently been costed and is provisionally planned to be undertaken by TCV in 3Q2012, when the present exceptionally high water levels have receded.

Pond Surveys and Management Plans

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have completed the surveys for the second tranche of sites (for 2011) and the first Management Report for Elm Wood was issued at the end of last year. Since then DWT has published the report for the Royal Derby Hospital pond, and are now finalising those for the remaining sites at Markeaton Mill and Alvaston Park. The third and final tranche of surveys have been completed for amphibians and are just commencing for invertebrates and plants.

The report for the Royal Derby Hospital balancing pond reflected that it had been enlarged, but the PSYM had decreased slightly to 56%. This had been attributed to the absence of any water beetles, which may be due to water contamination. However, there were good populations of dragonfly and damselfly, and presence of horned pondweed (a Red Data Book item). There was no evidence of any amphibians, which was also true of the 2004 survey.

DCPWA Core Work

Great Crested Newt Field Trip - 22nd April 2012

Now established as our first major event of the new year, wellies and torches were primed for a survey of Great Crested Newt populations at this undisclosed site. A total of three ponds on the site were surveyed, with the superb news that Great Crested Newts were located on two of them. The even better news was that one of these ponds inhabitated was completely restored with a new liner by DCPWA and Derby College students as recently as February 2011.

On the night, we located at least 22 Great Crested Newts (split evenly between Males and Females), with seven found in the restored pond. Smooth Newts were also found in both ponds. A second pond in another part of the site was restored in February 2011, but this had been the subject of vandalism and the liner was torn. However, a limited amount of water was being retained and the survey identified two adult Smooth Newts and Frog Tadpoles within it.

Day of Pondamania - 20th May 2012

Our flagship public pond-dipping and awareness event this year was held at Dale Road Park in Spondon. Regular readers will be aware that, only two years ago, the single pond was suffering badly from two invasive plants which had left the pond choking with virtually no open water. Our Wild About Ponds project came to the rescue in the second half of 2010, when it dug out all of the invasive plants in the original pond, dug a new pond close-by and carefully moved viable plants, invertebrate and amphibians from old to new. Such was the improvements to both ponds at a trial pond-dip in late-2011, that it was elected for this event this year.

DCPWA helpers on the day were Mike Bardill (local PW), Philip Ollerenshaw, Pat Sear, Claire Spencer, Penny Halfpenny, Maggie Cooper, Trevor Taylor, Nigel Barker, Kelvin Lawrence and Derek Golson. Catches revealed Dragonfly, Darter, Damselfly and Diving Beetle Nymphs, Freshwater Shrimp, Water Boatman (all three types), Mayfly Nymphs, Caddisfly Lavae, Pond and Ramshorn Snails, Worm, Hoglouse, Pond Skater, Daphnia and Rat-Tailed Maggot. Amphibians were rather low in numbers, with only Frog Tadpole and Smooth Newts (adult and young) found, which may be attributed to the pair of Mallards presently located on the old pond.

Pondamania

Pond Dippers at the Old Pond

Pondamania

End of the day (just a Mallard left)!

We were treated to good weather and over 60 members of the public took part in pond-dipping during the day. Nearly 20 Feedback Forms were completed and over 80% reflected an Excellent.

score for the event. So, with 19 species of Invertebrates and Amphibians found in the two ponds, the event and site was considered a resounding success.

Spondon Cubs Pond Dipping - 22nd May 2011

Alex Cooper is our relatively new Pond Warden for the large pond located at West Park Meadow in Spondon. Alex had been contacted by the leader of the 66th Derby Cub Pack (1st Spondon Mars) to explore whether DCPWA could support a pond-dipping session aimed at the cubs attaining their Naturalists Badge. So, on a fine evening, Penny Halfpenny, George Daley, Alex Cooper, Pat Sear, Philip Ollerenshaw, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson from DCPWA helped 28 boy and girl cubs with pond-dipping sessions scattered around the pond fringes.

West Park Meadow

Training Session on Safe Pond Dipping

West Park Meadow

Pond Dipping by Cubs in Full Flow

The cubs were able to catch Frog and Toad Tadpoles, Damselfly, Mayfly and Diving Beetle Nymphs, Hoglouse, Freshwater Shrimp, Pond and Ramshorn Snail, Leech and Water Boatmen. A good time was had by all, helped by the Specimen Tank loaded with earlier catches, and the Cubs attained their badge without anybody falling in!

Sinfin Schools Bioblitz - 24th May 2012

Now a regular event in our busy May schedule, with over hundred Year 4-6 children from Redwood and Ash Croft primary schools in Sinfin taking part in Woodland, Grassland, Scavenger Hunt and Pond Dipping events throughout the day. Maggie Cooper, Penny Halfpenny and Lucinda Schirle were the DCPWA helpers on a very warm day, bolstered by two University of Derby students.

Bioblitz

Sinfin Bioblitz - Pond Dipping (1)

Bioblitz

Sinfin Bioblitz - Pond Dipping (2)

Fortunately, the pond had some water in it this year (it was completely dry for the same event last year) and Frog and Toad Tadploes, Smooth Newt Tadpole, Water Boatman, Pond Snail, Freshwater Shrimp, Hoglouse, Leech, Worm, Midge Lavae, Daphnia and Diving Beetle were caught in the main pond.

Chartley Moss Nature Reserve Visit - 27th May 2012

A regular event for DCPWA members, this year was blessed with hot sunny weather and hardly any wind. Led by Beverley Rhodes of WildDerby, DCPWA members present were Pat Sear, Claire Spencer, Maggie Cooper, Kelvin Lawrence and Derek Golson, with four additional visitors from the Friends of Chaddesden Park.

Chartley Moss is the largest example of a floating bog, or schwingmoor, in Britain and is believed to be internationally unique. Most floating bogs are formed by the gradual closing over a shallow lake surface by Sphagnum. However, some 5,000 years ago Chartley was a spring- fed wet woodland with Sphagnum peat beginning to accumulate. The dissolving of salt in the underlying rock caused at least three subsidences and allowed water to flow underneath, and gradually a Sphagnum dominated community developed on the floating raft. Recent measurements in the western basin show the underground reservoir to be 14metres deep; pudding basin shaped; and with a raft of mainly peat 3 metres thick floating on top, covering some 25 hectares.

Chartley Moss

Chartlet Moss - Sphagnum Site

Chartley Moss

White Faced-Darter Exuvia on Main Pond

The three-hour visit took in a walk through deciduous woodland to the site, the floating sphagnum peat bog and its two main ponds, followed by a walk through adjoining coniferous woodland. On the way to the main ponds, we noticed Large Red Damselflies ovipositing in the smaller peripheral ponds amid a number of Green Hairstreak butterflies. When we got to the two main ponds, we were pleased to pick up Blue Damselflies and nearly 20 of the rare White-Faced Darters. Some 22 odonata species have been recorded of which 16 are regular breeders. Possibly the most important is the White Faced Darter, Leucorrhinia dubia, here at its most southerly UK site.

Our visit through the coniferous woodland found slow-worms, wood mice and yellow brimstone butterflies, whilst birds noted were Common Buzzards, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Hobby and Chiffchaff. A great visit, and a big thank you to Beverley for leading it. Please note that Chartley Moss is closed for public visits for safety reasons, but specially arranged events are organised periodically by Natural England.

Mansfield Primary Schools Eco-Day - 29th May 2012

DCPWA brushed down their passports to venture out of Derby City and the county for this special event held at Berry Hill Park in Nottinghamshire. The Eco-Day was the brainchild of OPAL, and included events such as Meadows/Bees, Tree Trails, Mini-Beasts, Forest School, Eco-Woods and Pond-Dipping. As Mansfield has no DCPWA-equivalent, and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Groundwork staff were already delivering other parts of the programme, DCPWA were invited to deliver the four pond-dipping sessions involving nearly 100 children aged 4-13 years old.

Not knowing what the pond at Berry Hill Park was like, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson visited the site in early-May 2012 and were horrified to find that it was concrete lined with no vegetation whatsoever. Unsurprisingly, the pond-dipping session yielded just one stickleback and a few tadpoles seen basking in the pond shallows. So, a contingency plan was hatched by talking with some locals who helped identified a better pond at Quarry Lane LNR, some three miles away. A dipping session there identified a lot more interest.

So, on the 29th May 2012, Maggie and Derek visited Quarry Lane LNR early morning and caught Frog Tadpole, Toad Tadpole, Ramshorn and Pond Snails, Leech, Water Boatman, Hoglouse, Mayfly Lavae and some very small Sticklebacks. These were then transported carefully back to Berry Hill Park and placed in the specimen tank for the day. Pond Wardens, in the guise of Pat Sear, Penny Halfpenny and Philip Ollerenshaw, joined Maggie and Derek to deliver the four pond- dipping sessions which caught just a few Leech and a dead Stickleback. So, the children were pleased to view the specimen tank at the end of each session to see what a "normal" pond might hold for them. The contents of the tank were duly returned to Quarry Lane LNR at the end of the day; none the worse for their day’s outing! Dr Amy Rogers from OPAL duly presented DCPWA with five brand new Lightweight Pond Nets at the end of the day, worth c.£200. Thank you OPAL.

Pond Survey Training - 23 June 2012

Chaddesden Park ponds were once again selected for this half-day annual event, led by Trevor Taylor of DWT. The object of the Pond Warden training session is to understand the process for PSYM Surveys, which should be undertaken annually during the months of June, July and August, and provides a measure of biodiversity on each pond and whether management action results in improvements to the score. New Pond Wardens were Roger Miller, Penny Halfpenny and Lucinda Schirle, while George Daley, Helen Wright, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson took refreshers.

Chaddesden Park

Surveying for Aquqtic Plants

Chaddesden Park

Surveying for Invertebrates

Project PINE (ponds Identification Novice to Expert)

An introduction to our OPAL-funded PINE Project was first given in our Summer 2011 Newsletter, and good progress made against most parts of the plan since. The purchase of all the planned equipment and reference books was completed some time ago to time and budget. Work in this period concentrated on completing the education workshops at two levels by 31st May 2012; the revised end date for the project.

Maggie Cooper led the Level 1 work package, which involves sharing our skills at novice level with primary and secondary schoolchildren. The primary level workshops at Oakwood School in Alvaston had completed with an assembly presentation from the children on 26th March 2012.

The secondary level workshops were planned to take place at Da Vinci Community College, but progress has been severely hampered by a number of factors. A revised agreement had been reached with the College and OPAL on the syllabus for the six workshops, which finally commenced on 1st May 2012. Maggie Cooper volunteered to become the new leader of these workshops, with support from Lucinda Schirle (our new Pond Warden for the site). A subsequent workshop on pond plants uncovered Nitella Flexilis (a genus of Alga in the family of Characeae) in one of the ponds; the first known recording in Derby City. Well done, Lucinda!

Newt Egg

Examining PINE-made Newt Egg Traps

Newt Egg

Smooth Newt Egg (left-hand edge)

Whilst pupil numbers at Da Vinci College were disappointingly low, the project has allowed us to produce information packs which can be deployed within other primary and secondary schools within Derby City. The next indoor meeting of the DCPWA Pond Wardens in September 2012 will have a presentation of the information packs and tools made available through PINE.

Derek Golson led the Level 2 workshops, which covers expert level knowledge-sharing with adults. The third and final "Expert" level workshop on Amphibians was held at Sinfin Moor LNR on 15th April 2012, with delivery by Chris Monk of the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (DARG). A record 21 participants attended, from organisations such as DCPWA, University of Derby, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, TCV and Friends of Sinfin Moor LNR. A theory session was held during the morning, which concluded with Chris showing live examples of Great Crested Newt, Palmate Newt, Smooth Newt and Common Toad. With water now in the Sinfin main pond, the afternoon session included pond-dipping, and realised a large male Smooth Newt, toad tadpoles and froglets.

This is the last report for our PINE Project, which finally completed on 19th June 2012.

Great Crested Newt

Amphibean Workshop - Great Crested Newts

Palmate Newt

Amphibean Workshop - Palmate Newt

Chris Monk kindly offered us a heavily discounted rate for the workshop, which freed up about £200 from the budget. After agreement from OPAL, this was put to good amphibian-related use with purchases of another Cluson Rechargeable Hand Torch, two ARC Amphibian Management Handbooks, a pH Meter, Egg-Laying Kits, Pond Gauntlets and a Weather-Writer Clipboard. A Final Report on the PINE Project was submitted to OPAL on 31st May 2012 (even though the Da Vinci Secondary School workshops ran until 19th June 2012). The report highlighted that we spent 99.89% of our £2,330 budget, with OPAL stating that they felt it was well received by both DCPWA members and local schools. OPAL were subsequently supplied with electronic copies of the Level 1 Resource Packs for both primary and secondary schools, to add to the Level 2 Information Packs for the Odanata and Invertebrate/Aquatic Plants workshops sent in December 2011.

Bits 'n' Pieces

Two new pond wardens have joined DCPWA during the period. Lucinda Schirle, who heard about us through attendance at the PINE Amphibian Workshop, has taken on the two ponds at Da Vinci Community College, whilst Ben Cape will be looking after the two new ponds at Elm Wood. Welcome aboard to both of you!

DCPWA have also invested in a Cluson Club-1 Rechargeable Torch for amphibian surveying. The model was chosen following recommendations from Chris Monk of DARG. The PINE Project has subsequently purchased a second torch of the same type.

Want to join DCPWA?

Contact Derek Golson (Chairman) or Maggie Cooper (Secretary) on 01332-830657, or by email at , if you want further details on adopting a pond. Our programme for 2012 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 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.

All Newsletters