The best time for pond dipping is between the months of May and August, when the aquatic invertebrates are at their most active and the amphibians, such as frogs, toads and newts, have completed their breeding cycle. It is also the best time to view the aquatic plants when they are out in flower, thereby making them easier to identify.
PLEASE DO NOT UNDERTAKE POND DIPPING ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THIS PERIOD.
DCPWA have been contacted by the Caretaker of the Walter Evans Primary School in Darley Abbey, to provide advice on issues with their pond. Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson met Dave Adamson on 8th April 2014 to undertake a review of the site. The pond is butyl lined with a concrete surround, measures approximately 5m x 2m, and is part of a larger nature area. Despite quite large amounts of duckweed, a preliminary pond dip yielded hoglouse, red worm, pond snail, diving beetles and copious amounts of tadpoles.
A draft Management Plan for the pond recommended:
Pond - General View
Pond - Rush Bed
As the pond has some history of newts being present, a torchlight survey was undertaken with Trevor Taylor of DWT on 15t May 2014. Whilst the duckweed had been removed, the presence of algae made the torchlight survey ineffective. Consequently, a dipping session had to take place, but no newts were found. However, an unusual frog was captured and an image was sent to DARG for identification purposes.
April was a busy month for amphibian surveys, and our two new Cluson Torches have been put to good use to support the surveys. It is thought that the cold spell around the end of April delayed the newts returning to some of the sites. The following sites were surveyed:
Good quantities of frogs (or frogspawn) and smooth newts were found under late-evening torchlight surveys on all of the sites listed and great crested newts on one site, and records have been despatched to Chris Monk of the Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group (DARG). Numbers of toads and great crested newts were a down on 2013.
Now in its seventh year, our primary public event for the year was held on a very warm afternoon at the well-populated Arboretum site. Pond Wardens were in abundance to help out, and included Pat Sear, Nigel Barker, Penny Halfpenny, Helen Wright, Anne Morgan, Claire Spencer, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson. We were also greatly assisted by our local pond warden and park ranger (Craig Spacey), who donned waders and cleared the main pond of rubbish and litter before the event commenced.
Over 55 visitors attended on the day, which included 23 unaccompanied children, many of whom were from Eastern Europe countries such as Slovakia and Poland. Pond dipping sessions caught water boatmen, leech, red worm, hoglouse, pond snail, ramshorn snail, freshwater shrimp, mosquito larvae, pond skater, froglets and tadpoles by the hundreds. Public feedback on the event was either Excellent or Very Good.
DCPWA Information Gazebo
Pond Dipping in Full Flow
DCPWA has always had a good working relationship with the Friends of Sinfin Moor LNR. This was demonstrated again when Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson helped them with a pond dipping session on the main pond, which was part of the syllabus for their regular Nature Club with young children.
Kelvin Lawrence, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson helped 10 children and five parents with pond dipping sessions during the afternoon on a lovely sunny day, which yielded many small smooth newt tadpoles, frog tadpoles, broad-bodied chaser larvae, damselfly and dragonfly larvae, whirligig beetles, water boatmen, pond skater, freshwater shrimp, daphnia, hoglouse and small pond snails. As the day was very warm, we were also treated to the site of blue damselflies on the wing, accompanied by male and female broad-bodied chasers, with the latter ovipositing.
FofSM LNR Information Gazebo
Main Pond awaits the Dippers
Earlier in the year, DCPWA had delivered a pond management training programme to a group of City Primary Schools staff. Out of this came an opportunity for three classes from Gayton Junior School to undertake a series of pond dipping sessions at Sunnydale Pond. This would have a direct link with their studies in the classroom on Food Chains. Approximately 90 children took part - although not at the same time!
So during the middle of May, children took part in pond dipping activities run by our local Pond Warden; Roger Miller. They were told about the value of ponds in the bio-diversity of the environment and showed how to pond dip correctly. They were reminded of the importance of treating all aquatic life gently and those periods in the year when it is possible to dip without disturbing the life cycles. Safety was brought to their attention also.
The results were very fascinating to the children. All had varying degrees of success. Dragonfly larvae, water boatmen, shrimps and sticklebacks were found and identified using help cards. A special mention must be given to a rare find in Sunnydale Pond - a smooth newt. Another remarkable find was a small crocodile! However the children were disappointed to find that it was only a toy and unlikely to cause much disruption to the ecology of the pond.
Another pond dipping session was held in conjunction with the Friends of Littleover Parks who hold regular environmental activities with local groups. On this occasion it was with the local cubs. This time, however the results were a little disappointing. The water quality had appeared to deteriorate and consequently the range of aquatic life was poor. It did not dampen the cubs' spirits though. They realised that there was a great element of chance in what they can find. A repeat opportunity was promised.
Regular readers of our newsletters may remember that the small pond lying adjacent to Burley Brook was lucky enough to receive two phases of maintenance work under our Wild About Ponds project. The first phase was undertaken in 2010 (see the Summer edition), whilst the second phase occurred in 2012 (see the Winter edition). Longer term plans at the time included installing a proper silt trap to prevent the fast-running brook depositing more silt into the pond.
Following a complaint from a member of the public, a review of the pond was undertaken by DCC Parks, DCPWA, DWT and TCV on-site on 6th June 2014, from which a 3-point plan to improve the pond as a stand-alone water course was agreed. However, subsequently, the DCC Land Drainage Team have stopped the work, as they want any work on the pond to be included in a larger scope of work to improve flood defences in the immediate vicinity.
Silt occupying Burley Brook Pond
Yellow Flag Iris but No Water!
This year’s general members tour took in the wildflower farm, located at the premises of NatureScape in Langar, Notts. The tour was hosted by Trevor Taylor of DWT, and members present included Pat Sear, Maggie Cooper, George Daly, Helen Wright, Nigel and Sue Barker, Claire Spencer, Penny Halfpenny and Derek Golson.
The site has two ponds and has an excellent reputation for the supply of native species, which includes aquatic plants for ponds. The 44 acre site has wild flower meadows, wildlife hedge, pond and marsh and woodland edge habitat. Butterfly and bee gardens, cottage garden, rockery and dry stone wall depict habitats which can be utilised and are ideally suited to growing wild flowers and attracting wildlife.
The larger meadow pond had numerous dragonfly and damselfly species, which included both four-spotted and wide-bodied chasers, which were mating and ovipositing in the fringes. Whirlygig beetles were also seen. The Visitor Centre pond had smooth newts.
Four-Spotted Chaser (by Claire Spencer)
The Friends of Allestree Park held their annual Pond Dip, led by our local Pond Warden; Pat Sear. This was part of the DCC - Walks and Activities events. We were again so lucky with the weather (in spite of one very black cloud), which encouraged families to come along and enjoy the opportunity to discover the fun of pond dipping. The Turtle Pond is always a reliable source of a good variety of creatures and a lovely safe environment.
We found a good array of creatures from pond and ramshorn snails to mayfly larvae, dragonfly larvae, damselfly larvae, water boatmen and smooth newts, together with damselflies and dragonflies flying over the water. Thanks go to DCPWA for the loan of equipment, which made the day such a success.
Pond Dipping (by Monica Monticelli)
This annual event was once again met with enthusiastic children, parents and grandparents despite the overcast grey cloud with occasional drizzle. From the minute the event opened at midday, the ponds were very busy with keen ‘dippers’. All visitors were thrilled to view the rare Orange Foxtail, which is now quite prolific in the Chaddesden Pond.
Both ponds revealed similar species - notably many newt tadpoles of varying ages, newts, water scorpion, ramshorn and pond snails, pond skaters, water louse, water boatman, leech and flatworms. There were no tadpoles at all despite a large volume of frogspawn having been laid in the spring. There was also a lack of any dragonfly and damselfly larvae.
There were 49 visitors to the ponds and the feedback was all positive and appreciative. Many took time to view our resources of books, posters and leaflets. One family stayed at the event for the full four hours!
George Daly and Helen Wright ran the event and were thankful to Pat Sear and Claire Spencer for their invaluable help - all of whom were kept very busy for the whole duration of the event which proved a great success.
Greater Spearwort in the Marsh Pond
Pond Warden of the Future?
DCPWA presently have a vacancy for a Pond Warden for the two ponds at Alvaston Park. The role of a Pond Warden is a voluntary one and aspects of the job can be found on the DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk). You will be expected to work closely with the Friends of Alvaston Park. Please contact DCPWA at d c p w a @ aol.com, or telephone 01332-830657, for more information.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson attended the Derby Green Spaces Forum, which was hosted by the Friends of Mickleover Meadows on 7th April 2014.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson attended the DerwentWise Project Launch at the Derby Silk Mill, which was hosted by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 28th June 2014.
We are pleased to welcome Barbara Holmes to DCPWA, who becomes a new Pond Warden for Sinfin Moor LNR.
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 2014 is now in progress and covers our quarterly meeting for Pond Wardens, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining DCPWA.
A permanent venue for future meetings has been agreed by courtesy of the University of Derby. 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.