The contractors have nearly finished! But due to the length of the cold winter we haven’t got the plant growth that would soften and colour all the hard bald edges.
Pond One – Although the back of the ‘big pond’ looks a bit scruffy, it is already providing a major habitat for our ducks. The willow which had taken over from the reeds has all been pulled out leaving areas of mud, water and reeds. Perfect for ducks! We had two mute swans arrive within days of each other in March, one is a young swan and the other was a full adult. The larger bird arrived just ahead of the harsh weather and left just as it broke, so one could theorise that he was a migrating bird. The young swan has made itself at home and may remain.
We were watching the swan when we saw a Water Rail in the reed bed! I didn’t have my camera which was a shame. There was a brief visit by a pair of Greylag Geese and several visits by the beautiful but fearsome Egyptian Geese. I saw four of them a couple of months ago.
A small grebe was spotted at the back of the pond and I saw the Diamond Back Terrapin today – so for all of you who asked about the terrapins – we have a sighting of one at least.
One of the park birdwatchers emailed me on 11th April to tell me that he had seen lots of Chiff-chaffs in the same area and also that there was a pair of Gadwalls. I legged it over there the next day with my heart in my mouth – and there they were! I don’t recall anyone seeing or recording Gadwalls on one of our ponds.
Pond Two – This pond is now planted and improved with the island extended – under water – with aquatic plants which should appear in time. There is a lovely new channel for the water to run down but at first it was a bit like a water shute. It now has some rocks to slow down the flow. I have seen the pied and grey wagtails around just recently, also the long tailed tits. Yesterday I saw what may have been chiff chaffs whizzing about. Unfortunately the chickenwire fences are not elegant or a welcome addition to the ponds but they are necessary for the aquatic plants and also the lovely display of cowslips that are emerging.
I have to continue the story of Ruby the Runner Duck who now has quite a fan club in the park. She is living on pond two now with her mallard mate and has grown expert at running under the wires all around the perimeter. She has been exploring the bushes and so is probably going to nest soon.
Pond Three – This pond is also looking sorry for itself but green shoots are showing. The geese are having their annual fight to use the island for nesting but the ‘big pond’ has provided an alternative for at least one couple.
The Marsh – This pool is looking so much better but we had a bit of trouble with the pace of the water – as loads of the newly laid frogspawn was disappearing down the main drain. This has been partially solved now with the addition of some rocks to create eddies and slower moving areas. Gradually water plants with colonise and that will provide good anchorage for the frogspawn.
Visitors are really enjoying the new paths and refurbished shrubs – but at the end of any of the few fine days we have had there are mounds of bread in the water of each pond. Ducks are competitive eaters and will over-eat and over – excrete! Thus the water gets polluted. We would ask that you limit the throwing of bread to the banks of the ponds rather than the water – and the café does sell wild swan and duck food if you pass by there on your way to the ponds.
If you see any interesting ducks in the park, please email Susy Hogarth at: firstname.lastname@example.org