Ducks & ponds update

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.

Swan 1

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. 

Ducks

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: brockwellparkcommunitypartners@gmail.com

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Bird lovers read on

bird 1Over the long winter we saw lots of our common birds – Great Tits, Blue Tits, Sparrows, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Blackbirds – at bird feeders in the park. Many small birds found the length of the cold spell very difficult. I had several reports of Redwings but not in the numbers we sometimes get.

Recently there was a reported sighting of a Ring Ouzel at the bowling green! Such a beautiful bird!  Also some Common Redstarts.

bird 2There was a report of a pair of Stock Doves, some redwings and the drumming Greater Spotted Woodpecker. I have seen the Little Owl by where the paths cross on the way to Herne Hill.  I have also heard another Owl or Big bird but have not yet seen it. There are several pairs of Nuthatches in the park and one of the nice things about the cold weather was seeing more of the usually shy Jays.

Please keep reporting any sightings to Susy Hogarth at:

brockwellparkcommunitypartners@gmail.com

Volunteers needed to plant biodiversity hedge

You may not know that the new deluxe perimeter hedge that we are planting, is a volunteer triumph.  Fund-raised for by us, fought for by us and planted by us. This hedge is to help support birds, bees, butterflies and bats to thrive.

We are on the last stretch – from the top of the playground by Brailsford Road – all the way down to Water Lane.  The volunteer numbers have dropped a bit and we have fallen behind schedule.  If you have even a couple of hours on any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in February – we would be able to get ahead and finish on time.  No previous experience is necessary.

The volunteers – led by Richard – will be there from 10am until after 4pm on those days.  You just need to see the white van by the side of the path and ask for Richard. You can bring your dogs or children (as long as you supervise them) –or friends and family.  The activities are not dangerous or particularly hard.  There is plenty to do for everyone.

With just a few more of you – we will catch up and that means our precious last few quid can be spent on ‘establishing the hedge’ which means looking after it for the first year – watering it and replanting plants that get broken (dogs, balls, Frisbees etc) so that it gets a chance.

I have to say – wrap up warm and wear sensible boots or shoes.  Richard will supply gloves and all the tools needed – as well as a cup of tea at break time. A Poster is attached and we would be most grateful if you could print it out and stick it up somewhere.

Biodiversity project – volunteers needed

We are getting on with our wonderful deluxe biodiversity hedge slowly but surely – however the volunteer numbers have been low.  We are sure this is almost entirely due to the worst weather conditions for many years!  Since we fundraised the cost of the hedge – we have to watch every penny and the work is falling behind the schedule that we anticipated.

So, if you have even a spare hour or two on any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday – of the days on this Poster – you can turn up at any time from 10am until 4pm.  You will know where the work is being done by the sight of the white van parked somewhere between the Tulse Hill gate and Half Moon Lane.  Theresa Hoare, Laura Morland or Susy Hogarth will be there. Hot tea and biscuits are provided!!