Since our Autumn 2012 publication, the final phase of the outstanding work within the Wild About Ponds project has completed its 3-year programme in a very busy quarter. This has included re-aligning Burley Brook, clearing vegetation from one of the Derwent Valley Fisheries ponds, restoring three ponds within Chaddesden Wood, clearing vegetation from Da Vinci, Dale Road (Spondon), Porters Lane (Oakwood) and Mickleover Meadows ponds, and lining two ponds at Woodlands School (Allestree). The Management Plans for Chaddesden Wood, Alvaston Park Lake, Spondon Gilbert and Burley Brook ponds have also been published.
Work on this project was formally closed on 31st December 2012. It involved 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. However, with Groundwork entering administration in September 2012, a replacement had to be sought for the final three months. Subsequently, the Burton Conservation Volunteers (BCV) were selected and approved by SITA. More information on the project can be found on the dedicated WAP Project page of the DCPWA web site (www.dcpwa.org.uk).
Regular readers may remember that the small pond off Burley Brook was restored in 2010 by removing silt with a digger and replanting aquatic plants on the fringes. Two years on, large silt deposits down Burley Brook had resulted in the brook actually creating a new channel which took it much nearer to the pond. This had the undesired effect of depositing even more silt into the pond area.
As a result, the Burton Conservation Volunteers (BCV) were employed on their first task on 12th November 2012 to re-create the original brook channel. The arisings were used to create a silt bank across the existing brook access to the pond, just leaving a 'gravity' backflow into the pond, to minimise future silting. Thin willow cuts were used to reinforce the silt bank. BCV have provided DCPWA with a proposal to create a "silt-trap" to prevent further silting-up.
The North Pond is fished less and subsequently has a good range of aquatic plants, which were beginning to be dominated by Nuttall's Waterweed. So, armed with self-made grappling hooks from DCPWA, as the ponds are very deep, TCV led an initial volunteer day on 15th October 2012, clearing some of the domineering plant in the North Pond. A second day was completed on 27th November 2012.
Grappling Hooks in Flight!
Heaps of Removed Nuttalls Waterweed
The original Chaddesden Wood pond was clay-puddled in 1995 and suffered from poor water retention, albeit it is well frequented by a large population of common frogs and the occasional common toad. The WAP management team proposed solution, to improve water retention and lessen disturbance, included deepening, laying bentonite and erecting a dead hedge.
So, TCV arrived on site on 29th October 2012, and spent the next two days deepening the main pond and two satellite scrapes, before bentonite powder was applied on the final day (31st October 2012). A dead hedge was also established around the main pond on the final day.
TCV starting work on the Main Pond
TCV working on Satellite Scrapes
Bentonite, Dead Hedge & Water in Main Pond
Bentonite & Water in both Scrapes
The three days work on the ponds was blessed with good weather and within hours of it being completed, the skies opened and rainwater was established in all three ponds. Further heavy rain on 21st November 2012 filled the main pond completely and it seems to be holding well.
TCV undertook a day of emergent vegetation clearance on 13th November 2012, to complete the more onerous parts that were not attacked on the earlier local residents clearance day held on 21st October 2012 (see later in this newsletter).
TCV undertook another day clearing the two invasive plants in both old and new ponds on 19th November 2012. The focus was primarily on the new pond, where there were small traces of both Crasulla Helmsii and Parrots Feather. However, time did permit some removal of more virulent occurrences in the old pond as well.
BCV undertook a days pond clearance on a cold and icy 2nd December 2012, when they removed pallets, logs and general rubbish from the pond. The scope of work also included clearing the pipe inflow from Bramble Brook of rubbish, together with thinning the Fools Watercress (Apium nodiflorum) and Branched Burr-reed (Sparganium emersum) in designated areas, whilst taking care not to disturb the prized Water Starwort (Callitriche sp).
The West Pond had been cleared earlier in the year, so it was now the turn of the East Pond for clearance and TCV spent a whole two days clearing it on 5/6th December 2012.
Three new ponds were dug along the edge of the meadow field under the Million Ponds banner in January 2011, using funds acquired from BIFFA. However, ponds 2 and 3 had subsequently been dry over a prolonged period and were earmarked for bentonite powder to aid water retention. BCV completed this work on 8th December 2012.
The final tranche of surveys for 2012 were completed earlier in the year for amphibians and invertebrates, and the reports for Chaddesden Wood, Alvaston Park Lake, Spondon Gilbert and Burley Brook have been published this period.
The report for the Chaddesden Wood ponds reflected that the main pond vegetation has improved on the north bank with the establishment of five species, but still suffers from disturbance and was dry at the time of the PSYM survey. Consequently, no score was available. However, water was present in Pond 2 (created in 2009 and butyl-lined), but vegetation had been vandalised and water quality low; giving a very poor PSYM score of 0.06.
The report for the Alvaston Park Lake reflected that attempts to introduce aquatic vegetation along the northern shore had been successful, and both amphibians and invertebrates were recorded in these areas. However, as a lake and not a pond, no PSYM score was given.
The report for the Spondon Gilbert ponds reflected that the changes in surrounding land use on one pond had reduced the ecological interest significantly, whilst the shallow nature of the other pond and surrounding trees had dried it out. As such, PSYM scores for both ponds were zero.
The report for the Burley Brook pond was initially issued in April 2010 and reflected some aquatic content, but no amphibians or invertebrae. After management work in May 2010, amphibian survey in March 2011 identified a frog and one clump of frogspawn. By March 2012, frogspawn content was 12 clumps but silt deposition had seriously lowered water levels.
DCPWA were tasked with the creation and publication of an Wild About Ponds end-of-project report, which summarised the work undertaken over the three year duration of the project, and how it had made a massive contribution to targets set the Derby City section of the Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan (LDBAP). The headline achievements were:
The End-of-Project Report was issued at a celebration event held at the Oakwood Community Centre on 7th December 2012, when representatives from Wild Derby, Derby City Council Parks, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group, the Derbyshire Biodiversity Project Officer, The Conservation Volunteers and DCPWA attended. This will be the last report on the Wild About Ponds project.
DCPWA were first contacted by Barbara Lait (a wildlife officer for Mackworth Allotments and Community Gardens) in July 2012, requesting advice on the proposals to create a pond on the site. A site visit was held on 27th July 2012 and options supplied. Due to the clay base and wet nature of the site, no artificial water membrane was required. By end-October 2012 the pond had been mechanically dug and was holding water well.
Pond Digging by ADM Plant Hire
Completed Pond with Water
DCPWA were contacted by Darren Morris (a teacher from Cherry Tree Primary School in Chaddesden) in late September 2012, seeking advice on restoring a pond in the school grounds. Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson surveyed the pond on 9th October 2012, which identified that it was concrete-lined (with possible cracks), low on water level, with a lot of mud and debris in the base. One aquatic plant of note was the Galingale Sedge, which whilst probably introduced, was only known at seven other Derbyshire sites.
Pond – Viewed Towards North
Galingale Sedge (cyperus longus)
A Management Plan was constructed by DCPWA and issued to the school for implementation purposes, which we understand has been completed. Feedback from the teacher is awaited.
The sixth annual pond clearance and tidy of the Local Wildlife Site (LWS) along Porters Lane (Oakwood) was organised by its pond warden (Derek Golson) and, this year, was supported by 16 local residents, ranging in ages from 8 to 70. The primary tasks for the day included clearing large amounts of the emergent marginal growth of Reed Sweet-grass and a few Bulrush from the pond, removing a large amount of brambles around the whole site and strimming the grassland on the northern edge. Other work included pruning back the large willow tree at the front of the site, removing sapling ash and laurel trees along the eastern part of the site, cutting back overhanging trees and cleaning the resident-renovated black wrought iron fence protecting the site. The team were well fed and watered during the day by other residents providing bacon cobs and hot/cold drinks. (Sue Badham took the images and holds copyright).
From Young Helpers...
To Older Helpers...
Further work was completed on 15th November 2012, when Severn Trent Water replaced a storm pipe which had become clogged with willow tree roots. This had prevented the pond being replenished with rainwater from properties sited along the adjacent Cardinal Close.
OPAL East Midlands have provided DCPWA with funds from their Derbyshire "Green Space for Wildlife" Big Lottery project. A review of the various Pond Management Reports identified the need for a new pond at the Alvaston Community Nature Area (off Green Lane).
The proposals for the site, which is owned by the Highways Agency and managed on their behalf by Smiths Gore, were defined in our last newsletter. Work commenced on 26th October 2012, when the 10m x 6m pond was mechanically dug by ADM Plant Hire. At the same time, contractors from Smiths Gore were on site to erect the two new Alvaston Community Nature Area signs, mow the path fringes and open the site for digger access.
This was followed by bentonite powder (24x 25Kg bags) laying and finishing off by TCV on 12th November 2012. TCV even had some spare time left in the day to remove some emergent
vegetation from the old pond to create more open water areas. Heavy rain on 21st November 2012 has part-filled the pond.
The final part of the project will be the acquisition of five pond dipping kits for the local school. These will not be presented until mid-2013 when the pond has matured sufficiently for pond- dipping to take place. DCPWA undertook the overall management of the project.
Digging the New Pond
Water holding in New Pond
Derek Golson has successfully renewed his Natural England license to monitor Great Crested Newts, which will be put to good practice again next Spring.
Maggie Cooper and Derek Golson attended the annual Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) forum, which this year was held at the County Hall in Matlock on Saturday, 17th November 2012. They each attended three different workshops during the course of the event, which had the theme of "Get the Message Across!" At the same time, we took the opportunity to put on a DCPWA display describing our PINE project, which was all about sharing information on ponds and their habitats at primary school, secondary school and adult levels. The same presentation was deployed at the annual Wild Derby forum held at Derby University on 26th November 2012.
Ian Sanders has joined DCPWA to become the Pond Warden at Woodlands School in Allestree. Ian is also the Gardner at the school, and his first job was to liaise with the school Business Manager to seek his agreement for the bentonite lining of two of the three ponds under the Wild About Ponds project (see earlier in this newsletter). Well done Ian, and welcome to DCPWA!
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 2013 has recently been agreed and covers our quarterly meeting for Pond Wardens, when we will be pleased to welcome any new people interested in joining 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.