Derby City Pond Warden Association - Winter 2010

Since our Autumn 2010 publication, the DCPWA group has been undertaking more implementation tasks within its three-year Wild About Ponds project. These have included movement of pond plants, invertebrates and amphibians at Dale Road (Spondon), digging out at Starflower Way (Mickleover), pond management plan reporting by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and ark site surveys for white-clawed crayfish.

DCPWA has continued to undertake its core activities in parallel with the WAP project. These have involved removal of submerged and emergent plants at Porters Lane in Oakwood, creation of a working partnership with Broomfield College, a first site tour of the Heatherton pond, representation at the University of Derby Volunteering Fair and the WildDerby AGM.

Wild About Ponds (WAP) Project

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).

Pond Migration at Dale Road (Spondon)

Regular readers may remember that our Summer 2010 Newsletter outlined a 6-point plan to eradicate a virulent occurrence of two highly invasive aquatic plant species; New Zealand Pygmyweed and Parrot's-feather at the old pond. It reported that the next task was to carefully transfer any plants, amphibians and invertebrates from the old to new pond, when conditions in the new pond were suitable.

Dale Road (Spondon)

Old pond with carpet of invasive plants

Dale Road (Spondon)

New pond with transferred plants

A review of the transfer process was held with DWT, BTCV, WildDerby, DCC Parks and DCPWA on 11th October, during which the old pond presented a new plant in the form of the rare water violet ( a first for Derby City). BTCV then led the transfer activities, with support from Trevor Taylor (DWT) and Derek Golson (DCPWA) on 14th (plants) and 19th (invertebrates) October. Members of the local general public were invited to the first session. Plants relocated included typha, water forget-me-not, water plantain, water violet (of course), hard rush, yellow flag iris, hares tail and bog bean. Invertebrates relocated were horse leech, mayfly larvae and water boatmen, whilst amphibians included smooth newt and frog.

The final part of the 6-point plan was to dig out the old pond and bury the spoil on an agreed part of the park. DCC Parks completed this work by 31st October. Any remnants of the invasive plants may be treated with herbicides by DCC Parks in Spring 2011, before which a final sweep of amphibians and invertebrates from old to new ponds will take place. However, we are hoping to avoid this by routine monitoring and removal by our local Pond Warden (Mike Bardill).

Dale Road (Spondon)

Old pond with invasive plants removed

Dale Road (Spondon)

Spoil heap from old pond

Starflower Way (Mickleover) Pond

Planning for this site, previously known as Radbourne Gate, was discussed in our last newsletter and work implemented this period. This involved Groundwork and DCPWA circulating flyers to local residents to advise them on why and when we will be doing the work, with contacts should they require additional information.

BTCV began work on site on 20th October, when overhanging hawthorn trees were cut back, and DWT identified the protection area for the rare Pink Water Speedwell plant. WildDerby, in conjunction with DCC Parks and Miller Homes (land owners), then arranged for a mini-digger to undertake mechanical excavation of the invasive glyceria maxima on 21st October to create areas of open water. Kelvin Lawrence, our new Pond Warden, attended both days to oversee the work and liaised with members of the public to respond to their questions. I am pleased to report that subsequent heavy rainfall has filled the pond to its brim!

Starflower Way (Mickleover)

Pond before excavation work commenced

Starflower Way (Mickleover)

Pond after excavation work

Alvaston Park Wildlife Pond

Groundwork have reported that the local junior school (Lakeside Primary) have run into difficulties with siting the pond within their grounds due to health and safety issues, and ongoing maintenance cost concerns. A way forward is awaited.

Groundwork have identified an alternative site for a "wildlife pond", which is accessible to the public from Alvaston Park. The site of the pond has the potential to become a local wildlife site for the park, and a further site survey was undertaken on 20th December 2010 to confirm its suitability. Work on this site, subject to final approval by DCC Parks, has been provisionally re- scheduled to take place in the second quarter of 2011 for planning purposes.

Chellaston Brickworks Pond

The three small ponds on this site have been subject to ongoing public disturbances, and BTCV have completed a series of excellent protective fences around all of them using dead-hedging. The local Friends group and Pond Warden has been very appreciative of the work undertaken.

Arboretum Pond

Preliminary surveys of the new pond site have been completed by BTCV, and digging of the new pond has now been scheduled for 11/12th January 2011.

St James Infants visited Arboretum Park and the wildlife pond on 15th December 2010, with Sam Maw from Groundwork Derby & Derbyshire. They all walked from the school with Craig Spencer, who is our Pond Warden for the site and also a park ranger with Derby City Council. They looked for signs of how old the park was and also investigated how they thought creatures survived the winter before arriving at the pond.

It was very, very frozen, but the children helped to get oxygen into the pond by gently breaking the ice at the edge and they were very pleased to remove any litter from the surface of the pond too. They all made up a rhyme about how they did not want fish in the new wildlife pond in the hope that all the children will pass on their learning to the local community and hopefully have the benefit of a reduction in the number of goldfish appearing in the new pond next year!

The same group of six-year olds are planning to return in late Spring or early summer to engage in more traditional pond dipping activities.

St James Infant School

St James Infant School - Education Visit

St James Infant School

St James Infant School - Litter Removal

Pond Surveys and Management Plans

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have now completed all of the amphibian, invertebrate and plant surveys for 2010. Management Reports have now been formally issued for Starflower Way (Mickleover) and Sinfin Moor, and these have been forwarded to the relevant DCPWA Pond Warden and Chairman of the local Friends Group.

The report for Starflower Way (Mickleover) included details on the site survey conducted last year, which reflected how the domination of the floating sweet-grass had suppressed the Index of Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score) to just 33%. The grass removal activity for this site, reported earlier in this newsletter, is expected to improve the index and a new survey will be undertaken next year to confirm this.

The report for Sinfin Moor reflected a good Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score) of 78% for the meadows pond; a 16% improvement on its score for 2004/5. This is down to regular maintenance work by the local Friends Group and DCPWA. The three other ponds on the site were not surveyed as they were either still being established from being dug last year, or water levels were too low.

Similar reports for the ponds at Chellaston Brickworks, Allestree Park, Da Vinci College, Education (Alvaston), Porters Lane (Oakwood), Sinfin Golf, West Park Meadow (Spondon), Chaddesden Park and Chaddesden Sidings are nearing completion.

Ark Site Surveys for White-Clawed Crayfish

David Rogers Associates were commissioned to undertake a survey of three ponds in the Derby City area to evaluate their suitability as an ark site for white-clawed crayfish. The following ponds were proposed as potential ark sites:

  1. Allestree Lake, Allestree Park (NGR SK349403)
  2. Heatherton Pond, Littleover (NGR SK 324324)
  3. The Sanctuary Bird Reserve, Pride Park (NGR SK375351)

Peay criteria was used to determine the suitability of each site, which were surveyed during September, and the final report issued on 28th October 2010. The report concluded that The Sanctuary has the potential for use as an ark site for white-clawed crayfish. It is recommended that further investigations are undertaken:



DCPWA Core Work

Pond Clearance at Porters Lane (Oakwood) - 10th October 2010

Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson led a group of 23 enthusiastic local residents (young and old) on a beautiful day to clear areas of glyceria maxima, rigid hornwort and broad-leafed pondweed from the pond. These plants were becoming overpowering, resulting in much reduced areas of open water and lower water levels, and three new open water bays were created to counteract it. Other work included removing surface duckweed, grass strimming, removing a young willow sapling in the pond centre and removing bankside brambles, holly and nettles.

Porters Lane (Oakwood)

Before - Emergent and surface plants in abundance

Porters Lane (Oakwood)

During - What a hive of activity!

DCPWA provided all of the specialist tools for the day, which included dung rakes, drag rakes, wheelbarrow and spade. Protected areas holding yellow loosestrife, bur reed and brook lime were highlighted before work started. Amphibians seen during the work included toads, frog and a smooth newt. Invertebrates included water scorpion, dragonfly nymph and horse leech, whilst even the local fox made an appearance to find out what was going on! Tea, coffee, biscuits and bacon cobs were provided throughout the day and a great, but wet and muddy, day was had by all. Next task is to paint the iron railings forming a boundary to the pond, using materials kindly supplied by DCC Parks.

Porters Lane (Oakwood)

After - Bank of removed vegetation

Porters Lane (Oakwood)

After - Good areas of clear water

Working Relationship with Broomfield College - 15th October 2010

Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson represented DCPWA at a meeting with Jeremy Carter of Broomfield College, aimed at establishing a working relationship for maintenance of the many ponds located on the grounds. Beverley Rhodes of WildDerby, who previously lectured at the college, set up the session. Whilst not strictly within the city boundary, the high value of the site and its close proximity, warranted a DCPWA involvement.

A tour of eight selected ponds located at the site highlighted the need for a significant amount of maintenance work on all but one of them. The work ranges from clearing emergent grasses to replacing broken liners. It was agreed that DCPWA would manage the high-value ponds in the Animal Care Unit and Wildlife Garden areas, whilst the college would arrange for students to undertake liner replacements on two other ponds, based on a task list produced by DCPWA. Management Plans for some of the ponds were obtained from the college library.

Subsequently, WildDerby has suggested that a group of overseas students from Derby College be involved in some of this restoration work as part of their curriculum. As such, Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson gave a presentation to 21 overseas students and their lecturer on DCPWA and the Broomfield College ponds at their Roundhouse premises on 7th December 2010. It was agreed that the scope of work would cover two ponds with broken liners, and that a survey would take place in January 2011, with the practical work taking place the following month.

Broomfield College

Wildlife Garden Pond requiring New Liner

Broomfield College

Wildlife Garden Pond holding Water

Heatherton Pond Visit - 23rd October 2010

Heatherton had been on our list of Derby City ponds since our inception, but a visit had never been paid for a variety of reasons. However, following the recent appointment of John Griffin as our new pond warden for the site, a long overdue visit was arranged with Trevor Taylor, Derek Golson and Maggie Cooper.

On arrival, the most noteable feature is the sheer size of the pond (lake), which is comparable to that of Allestree. However, it differs in that most of the bankside has quite a dense population of willow trees around it with a large reedbed at one end which was deemed to be an ideal habitat for birds such as sedge and reed warblers, and reed buntings. The density of the willow trees, however, limited the amount and variation of emergent plants and, as such, invertrabrates. Trevor recommended that part of the management plan should be the removal of pockets of willow trees to promote habitats for emergent plants.

Heatherton

View from the main entrance

Heatherton

Fringe willows and extensive reedbed

Derwent Valley Ponds Visit - 28th November 2010

Claire Spencer and Alastair Christie, our joint ponds wardens for the site along Haslams Lane, have provided another one of their regular pictorial reviews during a wintry period visit.

Derwent Valley

A few lonely bullrushes survive

Derwent Valley

Watery sun over a frozen North pond

WildDerby Funding

Derby City Council announced at the WildDerby AGM on 22nd November, that it was to be subject to consultation process on its future funding. The consultation process ended on 17th December 2010, and we now await a meeting with Cllr Homes (Council Cabinet member for Environment) early in the New Year.

The DCPWA Committee are concerned about changes to WildDerby, particularly in terms of its dedicated Project Officer or funding used to support organisations such as ourselves. We have already made representations to Cllr Holmes both outside and within the consultation process. Our very existence is under threat without the ongoing support of WildDerby!

Bits 'n' Pieces

Vicki Robinson has became our latest new Pond Warden, and has selected the privately owned Nooneys (near Breadsall) and Horse Field (closeby) as "her" ponds. Trevor Taylor of DWT is now trying to setup a site visit with Vicki, through the landowners, but the ongoing bad weather has postponed any plans to date. Welcome aboard, Vicki!

Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson represented DCPWA at its first Volunteering Fair held at Derby University on 3rd November 2010. DCPWA formed part of the WildDerby stand, alongwith representatives of the Friends of Sinfin Moor and Mickleover Meadows. After the event had been disrupted by an early fire alarm, interest from students was keen and 10 of them left contact details for follow-up information on DCPWA. Additionally, Debbie Thornton of the university's volunteering team has agreed to act as a focal point for distribution of our newsletter within the university campus.

Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson represented DCPWA at the WildDerby AGM on 22nd November 2010, albeit other pond wardens were also at the event under their Friends Group umbrella. A presentation on "Wild About Ponds - One Year On" was given, and Derek was the fortunate recipient of the WildDerby Individual Award for 2010.

Derek Golson has applied to Natural England for a licence to survey and monitor Great Crested Newts. Trevor Taylor (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust) and Chris Monk (Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group) have provided supporting references.

At the DCPWA AGM held on 16th December 2010, the existing Committee officers were re- elected, together with Vanessa Amaral-Rogers being appointed to the new post of Education Officer.

Want to join DCPWA?

Contact Derek Golson (DCPWA Chairman) or Maggie Cooper (DCPWA Secretary) on 01332- 830657, or by email at , 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 venue for meetings is being sought, following the closure of our usual facilities for refurbishment, and details will be posted on our web site when known. Meetings will, however, continue to commence at 19:00 hours. 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.

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