Jon Cranfield

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

the pond in westcliff

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2011 at 8:35 am

This pond has been designed for fish. Deep, steep sided and there is a covering of duckweed now. The filter system was closed down some years ago. The fish status is unknown and there is normally breeding frogs and toads in the pond.

It is in an urban area of southend. The population of animals here is quite important in a place like southend as it is very much a built up area without many semi natural habitats. The last of which to the north east of the borough is being developed by the likes of B&Q, and the local football team.

Great crested newts are very rare in Southend but some do survive in garden ponds around this area.


conductivity readings

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2011 at 7:24 am

Before I left for the folks this weekend. I checked the garden pond’s conductivity. It was 0.1mS.
Yesterday I tested my in laws ponds. They have four ponds in their garden. A large fish pond two small ponds and a pre formed pool in a bog garden.

Pond 1. 0.38mS
Pond 2. 0.36mS
Pond 3. 0.36mS
Pond 4. 0.42mS

Any guesses to which over the readings above relate to each pond?

The readings from the tapwater is over 0.8mS

The main pond has extensive duckweed and is linked via a waterfall to the next two ponds each have extensive coverings.

The bog garden pond is separated from the other three ponds but is located near the veg patch.

My parents have four ponds in their garden and I will be testing the water as a further comparison later today

the first slowworm of 2011

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 7:43 am

The local adders haven’t been spotted just yet. It was great to check the local churchyard yesterday and find an adult female slowworm. Not bad for the time of year. Its the earliest I have recorded slowworm.

This site produces the largest number of slowworms I have ever recorded. Around 150 animals in just 10 mins!

As the weather warms further animals will emerge. Normally it is thought that male reptiles emerge before females obviously this slowworm had not read the text book.

the first reptile of the season

the first reptile of the season

pond levels 14th Feb

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

The water levels are getting to maximum. And the extra water is very clean it appears.

clean water!

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

This is the conductivity reading of the garden pond this morning. A pretty good reading of 0.09 mS.

I have also looked at what the big pond dip score is for the pond. So far from the limited info the pond scores 11. Mayfly larvae = 5, water beetle = 5, wrigglies = 1.

Need to dip the pond to see whether I have missed any inverts to add to the list.

pond levels over the last few days

In Garden pond, Observations, the garden pond blog, Wildlife on February 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm
after the thaw the water level dropped

after the thaw the water level dropped

Conductivity reading 12th Feb

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I have obtained a hanna combo conductivity meter. The reading tonight in the pond was 0.21mS/cm
Which is 210uS/cm or TDS 134ppm

Now how clean is that? Well I tested the tap water here a reading of 0.85mS/cm or 850uS/cm this sort of reading does indicate that the pond has much cleaner water compared to the local tap water. The TDS was 544ppm.

Its not the cleanest by any means and there is always the risk of poison leeching into the pond through my neighbours over use of slug bait in her front garden.

Adder spotting, a London meeting, training & the Cornish ARG

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 at 9:37 am

Well the weather has been quite poor for finding adders. My local site is a new site which I found through word of mouth from local dog walkers and local natural history society members.

Male adders in combat

Adders in combat after translocation Norfolk, 2010

I visited last year in March and found three male adders. It is good to cold call and find what you are looking for.

Next week I will be travelling to London to meet Freya Smith from ZSL or IOZ. Freya is organising the UK chytrid survey 2011. This is a repeat survey of the amphibians, for the Chytrid Fungus (aka Bd) in the UK.

The ARG UK network is instrumental in this project with 6,000 amphibians screened for Bd in 2008.

Later this Month I will be taking a two day training course at Juniper Hall in Surrey. The course is on Reptile Mitigation and it is for the field studies council in conjunction with the amphibian & reptile conservation trust.
In March I have a meeting with the Cornwall amphibian & reptile group at the cornwall wildlife trust HQ. The group wants to finalise their events for this year and hopefully the SW regional meeting for 2012 will be confirmed. I will also be talking about the Make the Adder Count Survey 2011.

After the meeting we will hopefully be meeting the people at the Eden Project to discuss future events and a survey on their grounds.

Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK)

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I may be a little bias, well I am heavily involved with the ARG network, ever since I first got into the herpetofauna conservation volunteering bug – that fateful phone call to Jim Foster at Froglife in the mid 1990s previously being introduced to slow-worms by my dad on a bird watching trip – this led me to keep looking under things rather than looking up in the trees for birds.

Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2011

The national meeting for Herpetofauna Workers in the UK

I became a founder member of the Essex Amphibian & Reptile Group in 1998. The Essex ARG was relaunched in 2002 and is going strong under the guidance of my Dad – Ray Cranfield.

I moved to Hampshire when I went to University and became part of the Hampshire Group at the same time. The local county ARGs are listed on the ARG UK website– If people would like to get involved with a local group or would like to start up a group then do contact the ARG UK.

Websites have been provided to new ARG’s and groups which needed help with a website


Some examples

Essex –

Dorset –

Angus –

Avon –

The ARG UK network is totally through volunteers working together and contributing to very important conservation projects across the country. There are some excellent ARG groups who were the first groups to be established in the 1980’s – Surrey, Kent, Herefordshire are some of the leading lights in the network and definitely remain an inspiration to the 50 or so groups and contacts across the UK.

Do one thing for amphibians and reptiles in the UK – support the local ARG’s and join in with their activities

NB: Jim Foster left Froglife in 1999 and is the amphibian/reptile specialist for Natural England.

Water beetle Larva

In Garden pond, Observations, the garden pond blog, Wildlife on February 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Photo taken - 11th Feb 2011

The invertebrates in the garden pond are doing very well. The pond had low water levels up until two days ago when the rain filled the pond back up again. The new water levels bring the animals closer to the edge where these photos can be taken.

Using an inverted lens – holding it back to front these macro shots were obtained using a sunpak 4000AF flash and a head torch I managed to get this photo after dark

As I get to grips with the method I hope to get some more macro shots of mayfly larvae and the adult water beetles which are also in the pond – this may require capture and setting up the animals in a suitable container with dead leaves and pebbles for natural effect