Jon Cranfield

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

the next batch of rain…..

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Got home from work and the garden pond is slowly filling back up again. My neighbour has referred to ‘the lake’ after reading about it in the local newspaper. A news item sent around Alresford wildlife members included a piece on the first inhabitants of the garden pond. If anyone is reading this blog you canfind out more about Alresford Wildlife at

The water beetles are still in residence in the pond despite the low levels. The wife is starting to moan about the exposed liner and how that looks so I am looking to cover this with shingle, pebbles and small rocks to try and create a different substrate for animals visiting the pond.

A newtpole has been rescued and released into the pond. I had other bugs and beetles in the same container but these have been kept away from the pond.

Photos to be uploaded soon…..

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Pond as of 13th September 2010

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm
The pond is developing nicely

The pond has had another refill this time around 30 litres of rainwater

Night time survey

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Just  a brief look around the garden – the presence of bats around the area means I hope that the flies which will be hatching from the new garden pond will provide an excellent food resource for the flying mammals…..

Old garden pond surveys

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm

After a comment on the garden pond blog regarding the status of common frogs in the countryside. I thought I should try to illustrate some of the results that were reported in the comments – I was a little rushed and it probably did not make much sense. The first set of graphs are survey results from urban gardens in Rochford and Southend. I do have survey results somewhere of a similar survey in a much more rural area of Essex – I will dig that out to compare.

Results of a district garden pond survey 2000

Common frogs were the most frequently recorded amphibian in garden ponds in 2000

A three year garden pond survey in Southend 2001 to 2003

Again the common frog was the most frequently recorded amphibian in a very urbanised area of Essex

As a comparison here are some survey results from ‘countryside’ ponds in Essex. These results are from ‘professional’ surveys from various locations around Essex. You have to be cautious over their limitations for common frog detection – as they are focussed on the newt species. I have more results which are similar where common frogs feature much less frequently than the newt species. At Stansted the frogs seem to be doing worst than the newts while the common toad seems to be even worst than all the species.

In another survey at Wat Tyler Country Park – common frogs were only found due to an introduction of spawn – effectively one out of 16 ponds surveyed. A review of amphibians in Epping Forest reveals a reported decline in common frog numbers

From British Wildlife Journal

The status of the common frog in Epping Forest

Status of the common frog in the SSSI of Epping Forest

Common frogs in Epping forest seem to fair badly -

Calumma Ecological Services - Survey 2004

Common frogs were recorded from 1 out of 16 ponds surveyed - as a result of a small introduction

Survey results on countryside ponds

Frogs were recorded at low population status in many countryside ponds around Stansted Airport

Mayfly larvae spotted 10th September

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2010 at 9:47 am

I have been taking notes on the animals within the pond. Recently two water beetles have taken up residence. I have been watching these two beetles swimming around the deeper areas of the pond. I have also several wrigglies – larvae such as bloodworm and gnat larvae.

Today I have noticed mayfly larvae – or at least little things which look like mayfly larvae – several of them on submerged leaves and along the sandy substrate –

Mayfly larvae

A pond olive perhaps?

From the big pond dip scoring system – this increases my pond’s score to 11! – the pond is good!

I am not pond dipping as suggested this is just through close observations within the water column during the day and using a torch at night. The pond is so small using a net or sieve would be too disruptive to the pond.

However as the plants grow within the pond I will need to sample this habitat so eventually a small sieve will be used to sample the animals living within the pond.

It is really amazing how quickly the pond has been colonised within a town environment.

The only addition recently has been a frond of a pondweed from a site I was working on recently.

Water beetle number two!

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Just a day after the first water beetle had taken up residence in the pond. I found a second water beetle in the garden pond.

A small pondweed frond was added to the pond today along with lots of fragments of moss from the lawn. I would like to establish a nice moss matt under the water.

There is a good amount of debris in the pond – dead leaves, grass cuttings, fragments of moss, stones, sand and dead animals which have drowned (snails, slugs, insects etc).

An invertebrate other than midge larvae!

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm
our pond's first water beetle!

my surprise find tonight a lovely water beetle!

I went out to the pond tonight with a torch – standard survey technique for an amphibian surveyor – and to my amazement I spotted the first water beetle! Such a small animal did really give a sense of satisfaction and excitement.

I have finally attracted some wildlife to my front garden and it seems that the pond is working – that is a great feeling. The big pond dip score I have previously made for this pond was just 1 – with the addition of a water beetle this has put the score for the pond up to 6. The old score was between the 1 to 5 – ‘your pond could do better’ – I am a proud owner of a pond which is considered to be in the your pond is good category. Pond Conservation: What your score means

So in a few weeks the pond has gone from being a ‘could do better’ to a ‘good pond’. The score is only just the right score. It is really worth the wait and I can’t wait to see more inverts in my pond!

I have no idea of the species though I suspect that it is the Black Diving Beetle Agabus bipustulatus –

My little pond is working. Despite my little boy chucking in stones and me covering the water with grass cuttings – I suspect that these are providing a suitable habitat.

After the rain

In Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 at 8:53 am

The TDS of the pond has reduced to 63ppm/98.5 MicroS/cm – and this is the reason a good amount of fresh rainwater!

The pond after the heavy rain

The pond has refilled yet again but not fully yet

The pond levels are down…

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I am going to record how the pond does over this predicted heavy rain which should be with us at around 18.30 until 22.00. The water levels have drawn down quite a bit over the last few days. I can only imagine that the small nature of the pond means the evaporation is much more. As I type the rain is starting and this is how the pond looks now…..TDS reading 77ppm – or 120 MicroS/cm

Water levels on the 6th September before the rain

The pond has drawn down quite a bit

I think that some new habitats are required for this pond. i am thinking of getting some pebbles for the exposed pond liner at the back of the pond. I think that a few different sizes of pebble and gravel will provide a different habitat and substrate for any invertebrates to colonise the pond. I am slightly worried that my pond will not be colonised very fast so I am going to look for a source of plants where I can collect some for this pond. I am waiting for any inverts to find the pond. I am hoping that frogs will turn up next spring. I have plenty of breeding ponds in the area so it will just be a matter of time (fingers crossed).

It is still an odd feeling that as the pond dries out you just want to fill it up again. I have done recently. i have also added some plant material – plus grass clippings which I have fished out from the pond – but this will provide habitats (I hope) as it dies and float to the bottom of the pond.

How does the pond look now?

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Well the last photo was a little uninteresting so a new photo is required after the top up with rainwater and the reduction of the sand around the front edge. I also have a few pieces of plant material around the pond edge plus some mosses. The edge habitat is growing well – I think I would like to put a shingle or pebble beach around the back on the exposed liner.

The pond as of Sept 2010 - after the rearrangement of the sand and topped up with rainwater