Tuesday, 22 November 2016

the pond takes a huge draught of rain ..

The wake of Storm Angus has draped itself over Nottingham in curtains of rain since yesterday. Roads flooded. My rain gauge overflowed.

Perhaps I was alone in welcoming the soaking rain. I sent a text to our neighbour (who has a large, vegetable growing business next door) mischievously celebrating the deluge, knowing the reality would be different for his business. He replied that the farm was flooding and that he'd be prepared to pump the flood water that made the fields unworkable up the hill into our pond. I didn't take him up.

George's Pond fills under glowering late afternoon skies
Our pond is unusual. It is fed by rainwater we gather from the roofs of the two bungalows which travels down pipes and rain chains and into drains that feed the pond.

Our countryside has lost most of its ponds and wetlands. Those that remain are frequently polluted by nitrate-rich run-off from agricultural fields or catch pollution from roads. The consequence for animals and plants that require an aquatic habitat is obvious - their numbers are in speedy decline. Even the once common toad is no longer common.

George's Pond is our response to all this. Our site is at the top of a sandy hill and has never (as far as we know) had any pond. We have created it to help wildlife. Twenty metres in diameter, it was bentomat lined and then this matting was covered with compacted sub-soil. We finished work in January and therefore  missed some of the earlier heavy winter rains. I'm hoping that this year the pond will drink a huge draught of rain, become bloated - and prepare itself properly for the coming year.
Pond dipping

There is much that is counter-intuitive about natural ponds:
I have learnt that fluctuating pond levels in natural ponds are to be expected; indeed some highly successful ponds completely dry out in summer.
I have also learned that our aquatic wildlife has become adapted over millions of years to thrive in conditions of lower oxygen and so that ponds do not need fountains or rills to add extra oxygen.
I already knew that we wouldn't accept the many gifts of frogspawn and newts that arrived: the risk of spreading disease being too great.
I have also learned that the pond does not need to be planted because vegetation will arrive naturally over time. On this latter point I have reminded myself that although the pond may have time, I may not - so have planted a few favourites including snakes head fritillary, yellow iris and rush.

Although my movement activated camera suggests the pond is only used by wood pigeons and stock doves (and a strange creature I call 'The Claw' who landed on the camera leaving a mysterious and disturbing image) we know its impact is beyond this.

When Adam and the boys pond dipped they found lots of tiny invertebrate life.

We know that kestrels and sparrow hawks use the pond for drinking and bathing - and Jill thought she disturbed a couple of hobbies there. In Jill's case she does demand a level of proof that would test the resources of a major science university and so this latter siting can't be verified.

We do know that we attracted a passing group of crossbills on one amazing summer afternoon.

And now our pond prepares to sleep and sate itself on rain. Distant spring is anticipated eagerly.

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