Tag Archive | pond

Finally: Lawn dry enough to mow, pond deeper!

We’ve had a few years of relative drought in the South-East of the UK, followed by the wettest April since records began (1910).

My heavy clay soil keeps the water and for the last few weeks (even though it hasn’t rained much), my feet have squelched through the lawn (as it would in previous years around january and February).

For that reason, it has been impossible to mow near to the pond (as the mower created tracks in the soil and could have got bogged down altogether) until this weekend.

Meanwhile, the pond keeps getting deeper as the level rises – showing how the water takes a few days or even a couple of weeks to drain into the pond itself. Here’s a photo of the pond level at the moment, you can compare it to the previous photo, showing the depth increasing over the last two months.

Pond - finally deeper

Pond – finally deeper

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The drought and moorhens

We’ve all been reading about the drought, well I need to read the articles to the moorhens and I’d love to, but there’s not here.

Every previous year, the moorhens share their time between our pond and the others in the area – its great to watch them and their babies running in a line or group between the ponds – happily they tend to keep ahead of the cats, though sadly there was one year when they lost them all in a couple of days.  They tend to live happily together with the wild ducks that also come to our garden, both feeding in the same area of the lawn.  They are territorial though, especially when breeding and I haven’t seen more than a pair at once on the pond itself.

They run away from danger pretty fast on those little legs and when in the pond, they scramble up the edge of the pond and hide underneath the brambles for cover (though stupidly they keep calling out to each other as they are hiding, they’d be useless at hide and seek and it doesn’t seem terribly smart).  So, normally the pond at this time of year is about a metre higher than it is now and most of the brambles are covered, now as you can see there’s a gap between the top of the pond and the bottom of the brambles and the side is pretty steep – any moorhen frightened by a predator (or man) on the pond isn’t going to be able to make it to safety.

Happily though, the moorhens don’t need to read articles about the drought or my bog, as they haven’t been to the garden for the last few weeks and hopefully have found somewhere safer to nest and stay.  Its a shame as I love seeing them and another indication of the difficulties of survival with changing weather patterns.  Keep well moorhens and hopefully we’ll get some rain next winter and you’ll be back.

low pond

low pond

A sad day for Nicholas the newt

It was a sad day yesterday; a newt was murdered.

Of course, the good news is that the newts are even around – as their habitat has been destroyed so much over the last few years.  We have a large pond (around 10M x 3M and 3M deep at its deepest point) that has no fish and has both steep sides and a more gradual slopes at either end.  Around it are around ten trees and up one bank there’s a mess of brambles.  It attacks ducks, moorhens and has both common and great crested newts.  (The moorhens particular like the brambles, hiding in there each time someone comes close).

We have wood piles a short distance away, a small wooded area, both long and short grass and the area is away from the house and road/drive, allowing the population to live without too much human bother.  The pond itself has no stream to/from it, though it takes water from most of the garden and run-off from the road. The level of the pond varies throughout the year, it was common ten years ago or so for it to overflow onto the surrounding grass during the winter, but each of the last three winters, the level has been lower than the last and in the height of summer it dries up altogether.

When we moved into the house, I researched local fish and had around £200 worth delivered, hoping that they would thrive.  About two days later the local heron saw them and had a £100 breakfast two days in a row and that was the end of the fish.  Little did we know, this was good news for the newts, as the fish would probably have eaten the newt eggs or young.

The local council used to send someone around every few months to count them with a torch in the evening, though what happened to the data I have no idea, he comes no longer.  Still, the newts don’t seem to mind whether they are counted or not and are clearly still living there.  A few years ago, when a nearby set of buildings were being rebuilt, newts were found by the builders – after consulting with the authorities, they had to set up a newt-proof fence around the site and each newt found inside was brought over to our pond in a bucket by one of the workers and re-housed with us (re-ponded?)

So all was well, they lived without fish predators, no-one counted them but they didn’t mind and on occasions when I found them in the greenhouse or hiding in pots or wood, I’d just leave them alone. Sadly though, yesterday their number was reduced by one.  As a friend came to the back door, she managed to tread on the head of one of them, so the population has reduced by one – let’s hope that this year they manage to reproduce and make up for the loss of Uncle Nicholas, the newt with the roaming instinct that in the end, did him no good.

Poor Nicholas.

P.S. Let’s also hope for a lot of rain in the next few weeks to fill the pond to the level that keeps it wet during the summer.