Jon Cranfield

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

frog haven

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm
the common frog

hoping for this sight next spring in Alresford

My previous pond was designed to have plenty of warm shallow water to enable tadpoles to develop into frogs very quickly. When I noticed that the pond was heavily shaded with vegetation I went to work replicating a grazing animal removing all the vegetation and taking it away to allow light and warmth into the pond and particularly on the shallows.

tadpoles group together which provide protection from predators.


Frogspawn is it likely next year?

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2010 at 8:25 am

Well I seem to have a good chance that frogs may find my small pond and decide to breed in it. A previous pond I had in Eastleigh had frogs laying spawn within the 2nd year after construction. I estimated around 100 frogs were using my pond based on the number of spawn clumps laid – you can also measure the spawn mat which also relates to the number of female frogs – you take the number and then double it to give a rough estimate of how many frogs are using the pond. My new pond is positioned between three known garden ponds which support common frogs – to the East of our green there are two front garden ponds which have spawn each year while another pond is located further down our road which also supported frogs. Word on the street that there are plenty of garden ponds all of them have frogs so I am hopeful that possibly the frogs will find my pond reasonably quickly….

count the number of clumps for a population estimate

Spawn in garden pond in Eastleigh 2003

The common frog or grass frog Rana temporaria (a.k.a temporary frog) is a amphibian which has largely lost its main breeding habitat in the wider countryside. In the south of England small shallow ponds tend not to be a big feature due to intensive agriculture and people tend not to create small ponds for amphibians instead the focus is mainly on great crested newts an avid predator of frogspawn and tadpoles – the frogs tend to avoid newt ponds and so prefer small shallow ponds an unsuitable breeding habitat for great crested newts.

The garden pond was a lifeline for the frog and I think that nearly any garden pond would have frogs – even with fish such as gold fish frogs do spawn in large numbers in garden ponds. My father in law pond has a small number of fish and several hundred frogs spawn each March. In comparison my parents ponds have a few spawn clumps in a fish free pond – the main problem is the number of newts – four species including the great crested and alpine newt which all predate on frog tadpoles etc

The first pond built at my parents has fish and a small toad population. It is possible that the frogs have crashed in numbers or they avoid newty ponds in favour of small weedy fish ponds.

night time survey 23rd August 2010

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

The newly flushed pond has plenty of swimming space for the hundreds of ‘wrigglies’ which form the first arrivals into the pond. Probably from the water butt and from a few midges visiting the pond.

The pond has some plant life fragments of moss lying on the bottom though have been blown around in the current caused by the blusterly winds today.

I have measured a series of depths today the deepest part of the pond is around 18cm other depths include 2.5cm and the shallowest is less than 1cm.

The extra rain has levelled off the shoreline of sand. This makes a really nice shallow area around 2/3 of the pond.

As a well known charity is trying to raise funds for amphibians I may have a go myself. How about a sweepstake on which creature takes up residence next?
Water beetle, water boatman, dragonfly, damselfly, or frog?

Or could we run a sweepstake on which date the first frogspawn is laid in this pond? I am leaning on the amphibian side. Well why wouldn’t I.


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the pond refilled

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm

The pond has refilled to just up to 18cm at its deepest point. Overnight I have been informed that 125mm of rain fell locally. The tds reading is now 47ppm

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In Uncategorized on August 23, 2010 at 7:21 am

The pond this morning has got its levels back. The pond it seems has worked to a sort of design which dries and then it refills in large deluges of rain. The waters edge has risen by over 20cm which is great. The max depth will be back up to 22cm or so.

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ah the rain has finally come

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2010 at 9:54 pm

After several days without rain or anything which could make a dent in the pond water levels. There is a deluge over southern and eastern england tonight so fingers crossed the water will rise over night.

The midge larvae are getting stuck in very shallow water barely a few mm in depth. More fresh rainwater is required. Only that there is a potential problem of the next door neighbour spreading vast amounts of slug bait around her garden.
Thankfully no bait has ended up in the pond. It is also doubly important that the pond is fed by direct rainwater rather than draining through pesticide laiden ground next door!

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In Uncategorized on August 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm

The sandy edge of the new pond is not only a good catcher or flying insects but it also reveals possibly which mammals are visiting the pond. Footprints recently indicate that a hedgehog has been to the pond.

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update on water levels

In Uncategorized on August 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

The first island has arisen from the pond as the water is slowly drying up. I suspect that the water is drying up through the sandy substrate.

It is quite concerning to see the water level go down so quickly. The urge is to get more water in there. I am now resisting this temptation so I can leave the pond to develop as naturally as possible.

The life in the pond is just the ‘wrigglies’ I have at least two types biting midge larvae and other larvae which are worms
The numbers are building up so at least the pond will be providing insect prey for other animals.

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Waiting & waiting plus

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

A new little island has arisen from the pond – a small area of sand is now exposed to the elements. The water depth at its maximum is around 16cm with the majority of the water being just 2cm or less so we have lots of shallow water areas ready to provide small habitat for the variety of aquatic life which live within these areas of ponds.

Other comments I have had about the pond include ‘you better fence that off’ and ‘that’s a small puddle’. I am confident that eventually the pond will develop vaguely into something resembling a wildlife pond. Not sure whether there are too many about in normal gardens. This is why I thought that a pond survey should be launched in our town to see what ponds are around and how they are managed.

I will be nicking the pond conservation big pond dip survey forms and getting pond owners to dip their ponds. We can see where ponds are, what lives in them and how they are managed – we will also send the info off to Pond Conservation – Lets see how many garden ponds are in Alresford!

Water continues to decrease

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2010 at 9:08 am

My small pond is definitely acting as a ‘temporary pond’ its losing depth nearly every day – so should I be worried? well the pond is small so the effect of evaporation I think I am right in saying will be much more noticeable.  I have managed to build a pond which is a microcosm of a pond cluster as the water draws down leaving exposed substrate small pools will be created as I pushed the soil and clay down in the base of the pond and around its shallows to create effectively small pools. I am hoping that enough rain will come over the winter to refill the pond to its winter level.

I have taken a lot of inspiration from Pond Conservation – the garden pond blog, million ponds project info and the training courses I have attended this year and workshops at the Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting  (HWM).  Its a new thing having a pond which dries up – people always say ‘you better put a hose on that pond’ or ‘you won’t be able to have fish in there’ – which is great because it gives me a chance to explain what the pond is and how it is for wildlife – particularly garden wildlife. I am confident that frogs will find the pond next spring or maybe the following spring. I want to add plants to the pond and maybe local animals which is the natural urge for a garden pond owner….