Jon Cranfield

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Survived Christmas now the good news stories come in

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

Well recovered almost from flu this Xmas. I have noticed a few news stories which should cheer us all up

Britain’s Rivers

The EA press release –

edit – 1st Jan 2011

Of course Pond Conservation has been doing an excellent job de tangling the media hype and highlighting the real plight of our rivers etc

You can see Jeremy Biggs latest post on this issue


Britain’s SSSI’s


I am very keen to look at the news around the New Forest. I have been monitoring smooth snakes at Picket Post – and I would like to go back in 2011 to see how the smooth snakes have faired from the fire in 2006

Picket Post – 2003

Picket Post - the smooth snake capital of the New Forest

One of the best sites for smooth snakes in the New Forest

Picket Post – 2006

The Forestry Commission regularly burn 'smooth snake habitat' to manage the New Forest

Hopefully smooth snakes are still surviving at the site


Snow update – 20th Dec 2010

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 at 10:19 am
Snow removed from the ice over the garden pond

In order to help with oxygen levels in the pond water below the ice, snow has been removed

Pond Conservation has undertaken some research into the standard advice given about iced over ponds. In normal garden ponds frog or fish kill by ice is a real concern. Pond Conservation sent out a survey to investigate this during the beginning of the year in the snow – their results showed that melting holes within the ice layer made no difference to the survival of frogs or fish. Removing snow cover from the ice though helped increase Oxygen within the water column – thus potentially helping organisms which over winter within the depths of the pond.

Small shallow ponds it seems would be best at retaining their oxygen at a reasonably high level compared to deep and dark ponds which do not allow photosynthesis during the daytime.

Under the ice (which is around 3inches thick approx) I could see the white ghosts of mayfly larvae resting upside down –

Mayfly larvae rest underneath the ice

Eventually when the snow and ice has melted I will be able to count any invertebrate deaths – a few died between the two snow falls and thaw but there were quite a few still very much alive and kicking


The title of the blog has changed…..

In Garden pond, Wildlife on December 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I will be recording what happens to my garden pond over the coming months but I think that I should also broaden the scope of the blog to include wildlife observations, my day to day work as a specialist wildlife consultant, as a volunteer for the Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK, supporter of the Essex Field Club, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, DICE, Pond Conservation and the British Herpetological Society.

There will be some interesting events to report on over 2011 including the Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting 2011 in Cardiff, Further events in Cornwall, London, and other areas of the UK.

Not sure whether there will be many people reading this blog – I intend to extend its reach to more people around the country

Under the ice in Wales

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm

This fish-eye view of a frozen lake shows the underwater world in the recent cold weather. Nature photographer Graham Eaton smashed through the ice covering the lake before wading into the freezing water, protected from the cold in a drysuit. With his camera set up in a special underwater housing he carefully lowered it below the water in order to document these eerily beautiful scenes

Look at this feature for more stunning photos

A mitigation site in Essex

In great crested newts, mitigation, Observations, Wildlife on December 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Yesterday I visited a mitigation site for great crested newts, smooth newts, slow-worms, adders, grass snakes & lizards. A group of 6 ponds have been created in compensation for the loss of 2 ponds from a site located close by – in fact southwards over the A127.

The newt receptor site is developing well and has been in place for approx 3 years or so. In 2009/2010 over 3,000 newts were relocated from the ‘donor’ site to the area which is currently fenced in. I am looking to manage the site with the surrounding habitats on behalf of a developer who has had to create this receptor site along with an artificial washland.

I took my TDS meter with me to measure the total dissolved solids within the ponds and in pools of rainwater around the site. We have 6 ponds of various sizes and age in this area (you can see one of them in the photo). The TDS readings were surprising – some were above 400ppm and the middle pond had a TDS reading of less than 20ppm!  I suspect that some of the water draining into these ponds is coming from the former drainage system as outlined in this entry on the garden pond blog

I am planning to create new pond complexes within this area amongst the receptor site ponds – a series of small, medium sized shallow to mid depth ponds over the next year or so

It will be interesting to see how these ponds develop in the future – with a 20 year management agreement I will be able to find out…..

Night time survey of the pond 14th December 2010

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Just had a check of the casualties of the ‘big freeze’ the pond has a raft of ice floating on the top of the water’s surface with plenty of open water. I only spotted a few dead invertebrates including a water beetle larvae which was previously seen frozen within the ice itself.

There are plenty of mayfly larvae alive and well alongside beetle larvae. One of the adult beetles was spotted amongst the fallen leaves within the pond. As you scan the leaves you soon notice that the invertebrates are using the leaves as suitable resting places – perhaps eating the microscopic life which are breaking down the leaves.

It looks likely that the snow will possibly return – I will be ready to uncover parts of the pond from the snow and I will also leave the ice intact – remember no balls and no hot pans of water to melt useless holes.

It might ‘make you feel better if you try to help’ as the evidence shows that the procedure does not make any difference so why bother. Besides it is much more interesting to see the pond in an as natural state as possible for a garden pond.

The leaf build up will be managed not by me but by the onset of drying out next summer – the theory is the leaves will dry up and blow away – a self managing pond excellent!

Living roof & ecosystem services course 10th – 11th Dec

In ecosystems, living roofs, Observations, Wildlife on December 11, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Practical session during day 2 of the living roof & ecosystem services course, Oxford

What do green or living roofs have to do with ponds? I hear you say? well during the course the tutor showed some photos of living roofs which are designed to create temporary pools – this was something I wanted to look into to se whether I could add another pond but on a roof on my property.

It looks like this is possible. Another aspect in ecosystem services included rain gardens such as the ones made in the US. Can all this be applied in the UK?

Survey 10th December 2010

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Looking at the ice covered pond this evening I have noticed a few dead beetle larvae in the actual ice itself. The majority of the inverts though are happily underneath the ice in reasonable numbers. Plenty of mayfly larvae upside down on the underside of the ice. A few beetle larvae are also underneath the ice alive and kicking.

No melting of the ice, no balls, and definitely no smashing of the ice has taken place. The pond has not frozen solid despite it being under 20cm deep. It looks like the advice is spot on from Pond Conservation.


life under the ice

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm

After trying hard to get a photo of the adult water beetles to no avail. I managed to get a shot (out of focus) of one of the water beetle larvae which seems to be living under the ice happily on the fallen leaves (which I have not removed)

There are several plants growing in the pond including this moss which I hope is giving off oxygen to help the critters survive.

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night time survey 6th December 2010

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Went out to look into the pond with a torch. The inverts seemed to be doing fine. Spotted two adult water beetles under the ice along with the flicking movement of the mayfly larvae.

The pond does need to be a pond complex. I am planning two pools made from cutting back turf and digging out the soil adding some water proof membrane then fill back with play sand and then one will be covered in stones.

Not whether this will work but I do want to provide a mosaic of pond habitats. I may dig a depth of greater than 20cm to really flip the convention relating to wildlife ponds.

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