A Dunnock was seen for the first time on the wire fence at Corbyn Crescent end of the twitten to Adelaide Square by the allotments. This sparrow-like bird may have been overlooked before.
The air temperature and dew point fell just below zero but the small pond did not freeze over.
Most extraordinarily, I disturbed a Sparrowhawk opposite my front garden. I had just had time to see it swerve over the roof tops flying in the direction of the allotments. This is the first Sparrowhawk recorded in Corbyn Crescent, where its prey could only be the plentiful House Sparrows and both immigrant and resident Starlings.
pond and front garden are now overgrown with mostly grasses.
The small surface area of the pond can hardly be seen.
A small sprig of Holly is spotted growing underneath the Privet hedge.
A young Hedgehog was curled up asleep next to the watering can by the small pond in my front garden in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham, (TQ 224 055). It may find my overgrown garden and privet hedge amenable for hibernation. Adult Hedgehogs have courted, and a very noisy amorous business with lots of snorting it was, in the garden before.
Alas, the Hedgehog did not move and was discovered in the same place uncurled but dead the following morning.
It was in in the late afternoon, and then a flock of at least 600 Starlings flew from west to east in the direction of the Middle Road Playing Fields, Shoreham.
A Migrant Hawker cruised up and down Corbyn Crescent in the residential area of Shoreham, but it did not stop by my garden pond.
Adur Damselflies and Dragonflies
A Cornflower appeared in the garden and an adult Frog (not fully grown, second year?) was resting in the pool shallows, in the darkness of night, as the recent rain had elevated the water levels.
The hoverfly in the grass in the garden near the pond is a frequently seen species Eupeodes (=Metasyrphus) corollae
Another slightly larger Froglet has been found round the back of the house by Sonia, although it could have been the same one as before that had grown a bit. It has a hop of at least 10 cm and probably more, or three times its length (estimated) and it hopped into the dry part of the pond.
A newt tadpole, with four legs, is seen on the surface of my garden pond in Shoreham town, but it evaded capture for a further look. Just the one Pyrausta aurata moth was around the long grasses.
A House Sparrow visited the sunflower feeder in the privet hedge. I was too close and it flew off without feeding, but it looked like it has been feeding from it before.
A Magpie also flew over, with a special interest in either the Sparrows or the pond, landing on the lower part of the roof near the guttering.
The small day-flying moth in the photograph on the right landed on a Water Mint.
The Hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus, is now common with over a hundred in a single Shoreham garden, and, as expected, a handful are regulars around the pond. There are not so many flowers to pollinate as a flowery garden.
A Common Darter has emerged from my garden pond, the exuvia (skeleton) left on an overhanging grass stem.
A green Lacewing settled on my mountain bike.
A small colourful red patterned moth with the scientific name of Pyrausta aurata was resting on the Gypsywort leaves. When it was chased off it did not land on the Water Mint but on the other Gypsywort plant. The one Blue-tailed Damselfly had a green thorax, which means it is a female.
At least one large slug feeding on Water Forget-me-Not and a Common Garden Snail feeding on Water Soldier were fished out of the pond.
At least one each of Small White, Large White and Gatekeeper Butterflies were recorded briefly passing through my garden.
A Common Newt was seen in the pond at midday. It was still a golden colour and not spotted like I have seen them in other ponds. A handful of small 3-spined Sticklebacks were introduced. However, this was not an outstanding success as they dived straight into the nearest weed and at least two of them became enmeshed in the blanketweed and one died almost immediately and the other one I released and it swam free. Another one was found caught up in the weed and it died later.
The mystery of the appearing Froglet has been solved. It was rescued from underneath the lawnmower in the back garden (downstairs flat) and given a helping hand to its new watery home.
21 July 2004
Creeping Jenny has been planted in the boggy margins (a buried container) with the object to colonise the dried out overlapping turf that can be seen in the foreground in some photographs. This project will not materialise until next year. A few Teasel have also been planted, but these small plants will have to fight it out with the established grasses. At the moment my front garden is looking like a poor relation to a bit of wasteland. It has encouraged the froglet, but there are still no sign of the newts.
I looked at night, but the newts are still not to be seen. One worry I have always had with this small pond is the arrival of slugs and snails that will die in the pond causing to go stagnant. I am wondering if the long grasses will encourage slugs?
A fresh Blue-tailed Damselfly stayed around long enough to gains its blue livery, helped by the grass meadow shelter next to the pond. Two have not been seen mating and only one damselfly at a time has been seen at a time although there are more than one. Another larger Froglet has appeared and it was the grass moving that revealed its presence in the meadow that reaches down into the pond at the eastern (fence) end. I poked around in the pond but I could not see any signs of the newts. As they are nocturnal, I may have more success at night. I think at this time of the year they should be in the water and looking to lay eggs so this is the time that I would like to see them in the pond. (With the 10-spined Sticklebacks and Backswimmer Water Boatmen, I am far from sure if any newt tadpoles would survive?)
A fresh Blue-tailed Damselfly was actually seen emerging from the pond. The photograph is not good enough for display. The larvae are assumed to have come in with the water plants. It takes a few minutes before it is able to fly. The newts still have not be seen, but the water level is low and there is blanketweed on the surface, so they may just be that they are hiding.
Unfortunately, a cat has made a habit of visiting the garden at night leaving faeces and flattening the grass. Past experience in other local gardens shows cats to be able to catch and kill newts, as well as lizards and slow worms.
The first Common Froglet (born this year) was discovered in the pond. It is not known where the nearest pond is from where it could have hopped. Of course, it is possible that some of the half a dozen tadpoles survived to adulthood?
The newts have not be seen for several days. Sometimes I clear the blanketweed to create some clear water, but the other plants are not really established securely yet. There are numerous (more than the original five fish) 10-spined Sticklebacks fry in the small pond.
A black teneral Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura elegans, rested on a pond plant and then on a succession of long grasses bordering the pond. The long grasses have been left and encouraged for this purpose.
There is still just one Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura elegans, so there will not be offspring unless I have missed seeing another one.
The rain has put a few gallons, about an inch (25 mm) on the height of the pond which had evaporated about three inches (75 mm) since it was first filled. It now looks wild with excessive blanketweed and long grass around the border (so the newts can escape). The Water Boatmen (=Backswimmers), Notonecta, seem to have reduced in numbers. These beetles are carnivores, probably on tadpoles and fish larvae. I think there may also be juvenile Lesser Water Boatmen, Corixa, introduced with the live daphnia, with other small bugs as well. The latter beetles are to be preferred as they are herbivores and detritus eaters and provide live food for newts and fish; and probably for the Water Boatmen as well.
A young Hedgehog is seen trotting across the road in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham town at 10:15 pm. I have not seen them for over a year.
A Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura elegans, was the first Odonata species to visit my front garden pond, just the one seen on the long grasses.
1 July 2004
A very small (2 mm cap) mushroom has appeared amongst the grass near my front garden pond (TQ 224 055) in Shoreham town. This fungi was on soil disturbed to make the pond and a bit near the front door, frequently trampled over, and it is not expected to survive.
The large tadpole looks like it is an over large frog tadpole which has not grown legs and jumped out of the pond or eaten by the adult newts. The blanketweed, Cladophora, is becoming dominant and there is very little clear surface water left, and some of it was removed, only a small amount. All the other critters; two very pale fawn Common Newts were seen, a dozen or so Backswimmer Water Boatmen and at least a pair of 10-spined Sticklebacks chasing each other seem to be surviving.
The gales may have brought this caterpillar in on piece of flying vegetation. It hid down in the long grass and curled up when disturbed. These are known as 'Woolly Bears', the larvae of the Garden Tiger Moth, Arctia caja.
A Red Admiral Butterfly fluttered against a light breeze from the north over my front garden in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham, (TQ 224 055). The Water Forget-me-not and the Brooklime are beginning to flower.
The first fry of the 10-spined Sticklebacks are noticed in the pond. I only saw one which was not a larva, a small fish already. The blanketweed is suddenly more extensive.
Green Blanketweed is noted especially amongst the Water Starwort and Hornwort. Water snails have been accidentally introduced. In the rest of the garden the same old Brambles and Goosefoot (Cleavers) seems to be the dominant wild flora. Wood Avens is noticeable with its small yellow flowers. The large plant in the underwater basket with red stems has now burst open with a yellow flower (photograph on the right).
About 20 Backswimmer Water Boatmen are introduced to the pond by Katherine and Jan Hamblett, with permission. The water is clear and orangey like some of the local streams. Two Water Soldiers (floating plant) are looking fine just beneath the surface. The water has evaporated (or used by the plants, about 10% reduction) leaving the western end as a margin rather than shallow water. The Pond Crowfoot, Ranunculus peltatus, is in flower in the pond and in the margins, Brooklime and Borage are sporting blue flowers. The pond border of grass is uncut and untidy and natural looking and unattractive to the suburban gardener's eyes.
One of the handful of water plants appears to be emitting a strange fragrance, not particularly pleasant, strong, but not really horrible either. I have not worked out which one it is?
Both Magpies and Crows flying overhead seem to be giving the small pond a second glance.
The overnight heavy rain (43.7 mm) has done a tremendous job of removing all the foamy stuff from the top of the pond and making it look clearer and attractive, with the newts (4 or 5), sticklebacks and one large frog tadpole (no legs) that could be seen. The tadpole is often chased by the newts, but it appears too large for them to swallow. The Ramshorn Snail can be seen crawling around the edge of the rigid pond rasping the green microalgae. Daphnia is not visible: it may have all been eaten.
Starlings are nesting under the guttering of my house and it was their white excrement that gave the game away. They may also be nesting in a ventilation shaft in the empty house next door, which has a cat-flap style entrance and I have seen Collared Doves go in even there when the house was occupied.
A domestic cat was taken an interest in the pond, but it scarpered off without any extra prompting (I would have waited to see what it was up to).
A Holly Blue Butterfly visited the privet hedge and the damp earth.
The pond looks a bit like the less interesting ponds in the wild. The Common Newt in the photograph makes a a clumsy dash for the water. The newts (there at at least two remaining) have been digging up some of the plants. Some of the grass turfing around the edge of the pool appears to be dying, all dry despite being watered.
A few days of poor weather with breezes gusting to gale force seem to have helped the surface condition of the pond. I think that water movement would be a asset.
The surface of the water seems cloudy and a bit foamy, overnutrified and looks like the surface would benefit from water movement e.g. a pump and a waterfall. The water plants have only grown a few centimetres. I hope the pool is not turning stagnant and will start to smell? The sticklebacks and newts and Daphnia are still alive at dusk today.
Some water plants seem to be inching up, and the after the rain the water is murky as mud from the turf around the edges has leached into the pond and the bottom cannot be seen. At least one newt looked pregnant, and I have not introduced any supplementary food, although over a dozen small flying insects will have perished at the water surface in the day, possibly more over night.
The Water Crowfoot, Ranunculus peltatus, a straggly plant of local provenance has been introduced. The photograph of the wild growing specimen shows the leaf in the bottom right hand corner.
There seems to be a drastic shortage of frog tadpoles this year and I have not been able to locate any local ponds with a surplus so far.
I fed the newts some chopped up worm, introduced some more Daphnia*, and in the clearer water I found the Water Soldier plant on the bottom of the pond, and after I have found some tadpoles for the newts, I will leave the pond to its own devices. Well, that is the intention. (* I expect this to all be eaten by the sticklebacks. A supply should really be kept separate.)
Newts in Captivity
The pond has cleared a bit and by peering down the containers in the bottom can actually be seen even in the deep bit in the middle. The shallow bits at each end seem to be occupied as territories by one pair at each end of 10-spined Sticklebacks. There is a large unidentified plants with large roots which I hastily embedded in the container in the deep part of the pool. They may be too deep. I do not know what happens. Do the leaves on the plant increase its buoyancy and does the whole plant uplift gravel and compost and everything making an untidy mess? The Canadian Pondweed, Elodea, seems to be favoured by one female stickleback who looks like it is attempting to lay eggs.
The Smooth Newts, Triturus vulgaris, have not deserted the pool. There may be five not four? They can be seen in both the shallow and deep bits and when they come to the surface to breathe. I have not seen any frog tadpoles today, nor any Daphnia. The Daphnia may already have been eaten. The Water Soldier plant is nowhere to be seen.
Newts Information -1
Newts Information -2
BBC Newts Information
The black compost soil was a bad mistake. It is easily disturbed under the beach gravel (which should have been selected of finer granule sized grains) and it floats about and will not settle. The best bet would have been to use ordinary soil bedded down tightly with granules of flint or river gravel and then fill the pond. The only thing seen moving is the Ramshorn Snail which has already found algae covering the pond edges (the light colour of the pond does not matter), an occasional daphnia and a land beetle that fell in the water. I am having my doubts about the sticklebacks* as they cannot co-exist with newts on a long term basis (they eat the spawn and tadpoles). (*The plan is to catch them and put them in an aquarium.)
Later, some unidentified water weeds, including possibly the Canadian Pondweed, Elodea, and others were introduced to stop the water going green, with four Smooth Newts, Triturus vulgaris, one with a tail streaked with orange. Two stonefly larvae came with the weed. I rearranged the turf edging it only partly covers the edge of the pool. The problem can be seen in the photograph (on the right). If a liner had been used the slope could have been gradual and the side of the pond hidden by the turf.If the pond had been level this bit would not have been so noticeable.
The north bank was scattered with common wild flower seed and watered; Greater Knapweed, Hardhead (Lesser Knapweed), Musk Mallow, Ox Eye Daisy, Cornflower, Yarrow and Field Scabious.
The water temperature in the pond in the late afternoon,6:15 pm, was measured at 13° C. The air temperature reached 20.6 ºC at 6:15 pm.
Even in the following morning, my mistake has still left a film of black compost all over the surface of the pond water. I do not want the water crystal clear, but this was an unintentional mistake. (Mistake: using compost mix instead of soil.)
I introduced a few marginal plants including Pendulous Sedge, Marsh Marigold, Water Mint, Brooklime and Water Forget-me-Not. This stirred up the water even further. In the soggy margins I put in Gypsywort and Solomon's Seal in a pot without a hole in its bottom and filled with water. I dropped in one floating plant: the spiky Water Soldier. I introduced five 10-spined Sticklebacks, a handful of frog tadpoles, and two Ramshorn Snails. The sticklebacks were a difficult decision as they are predators of smaller aquatic life.
The illustration on the right is another larger garden pond for comparison purposes.
April 2004 (St. George's Day)
I was so dissatisfied with the appearance of the pond, I messed about with it and made it worse (in the short term). I now have soil, actually compost, floating in the water. Last time it settled quite quickly; this time it did not settle quickly even after scooping some of the soil off the water surface. It does look very good. The bottom of the pool now has a thin layer of soil (compost).
I have decided against baskets in the medium term at the shallow ends and gone for soil and flint rocks. There is a basket for a deeper water plant if needed: depth about 35 cm allowing for the basket.
In the long term a £60 external pump would create moving water and be more pleasing aesthetically and be better for biodiversity.
A Red-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius, visited the garden searching for a whole in the ground in the mud bank by the pool which still has not been seeded. This is unusual inasmuch it is the Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, that is a daily visitor in spring and summer.
Some of the grass from the turf ends up in the pool, helped just a little by the House Sparrows looking for nest material.
The pool looks a long haul before it will begin to look attractive. I have collected (on a spur of the moment in passing) a few water plants of local provenance where they were plentiful in a local stream. I have not identified them, so it is an experimental choice.
The purchased Water Starwort seems to have grown a few centimetres in height, but the Hornwort has not shown any signs of growth.
Water Plants of New Monks Farm
When the sun came out I took a chance to look a local stream for ideas. The photograph is on the right. Clicking on image reveals a page for more pictures. It really looks a tricky job to make my pond look natural.
Adur Freshwater Streams and Ditches
Adur Freshwater Links Page
Today, I am not too happy about the pond. I do not like its grey colour and it is too deeply in the shade at 6:00 pm and I am worried that there will not be enough light for the plants? The flowery lawn seeds were not ordered because the delivery charge was too high (£5) so I am now looking for a local stockist.
I have decided to keep things simple and go for a basic flowery lawn leading down to the pond with perhaps a rockery built up at a later date. It only took a further 20 gallons to fill the pool (36 gallons total), which is sloping towards the east so it is not full near the entrance path. Decorative touches will be made as appropriate. Even before the chlorine has dissipated from the water, I seeded the pool with a bag of daphnia. The bag had no other organisms of interest. I watered the turf around the pool. The two pots of plants have been placed on a brick in the clear water.
On reflection, the setting really demands a more formal, less wild pool, with overlapping paving slabs to mask the edges. It can always be changed at a later date.
from a couple of Buff-tailed
terrestris, that buzzed through the
front door, the first wildlife attracted to the pond was a larva that was
rescued from drowning. It was only about 12 mm long and my
camera is not very good recording small critters. At a guess I would
say it was a pest species that came with the turf?
PS: It is the larva of a Noctuid moth, they live in grass at the root/soil interface, chomping through the roots.
14 April 2004
The photograph on the right shows how the early morning light and shadow across the pond at 9:45 am and the North Bank and Privet hedge. This may have a bearing on where the plants will grow best. Clicking on the image shows a view from the north-west. On the face of it, it seems that it could be difficult to obscure the sides of the pool, especially in winter.
I purchased a tub of Hornwort, Ceratophyllum demersum, and a tub of Water Starwort, Callitriche sp., from Fishey Business in Portslade. I forgot to ask them to specify the exact species especially of Water Starwort, as there are several species of the latter plant. These potted plants cost £4 each. Most pre-formed ponds are now black in colour.
As advised I put some soil on the bottom of the pond and this has dissolved in the water turning it black. The soil settled on the bottom and the water was clear after an hour or so. I just filled the deep section with about 16 gallons.
13 April 2004
I bought a square metre of garden turf for £2.45 and put it around the sides of the pool as the overlap so the edges are hidden and I hope they remain so. It does not look very elegant and I am beginning to have my doubts. I have transplanted the Rosemary plant to the eastern pond side of the garden and planted some Parsley.
The stream picture has been included to give some idea of the effect in miniature I am trying to create. It can be enlarged by clicking on the image.
April 2004 (Easter Monday)
I dug a couple of holes for the marginal plants where pots will be sunk in and hidden. The plan is to trap the water in the pots to create an area that will be waterlogged for most of the year and to mimic streamside conditions.
The photograph shows the empty pool on an east-west orientation. On the left the slope has been christened the "North Bank". Glaucus House is to the right.
The small irregularly shaped pond measures approx. 200 cm x 50 cm with a maximum depth of 45 cm. This about a square metre of water surface area. This is too small as a viable pond for dragonflies. The depth of the shallow ledges are 25 cm. The choice of water plants may be quite important. The pond is in the shade of the house which casts a shadow over it for the complete morning at this time of the year.
Rain stopped play as the hole for the pond is nearly complete. It seemed like clay with flints deeper down and progress was much slower than expected. By dusk it was almost installed empty and I am not sure what to do next, in what order?
Steady rain is a bit of a dampener, but the House Sparrowsare not perturbed chattering away immediately outside my first floor window. The birds were arriving even before the pond is installed, a female Blackbird with a mouth full of nesting material and the inquisitive House Sparrows. This is the first year of a local Blackbird nesting after the chief cat had moved home.
2004 (Good Friday)
The rigid pond (the slopes of this pond are too steep) arrived and I started straight away clearing the garden of crisps packets, pop bottles, and began to dig the hole in the cool sunshine. Bramble roots were a problem, but deeper than the top soil it appeared to be brick earth and this was easier. There was no hidden treasure or skeletons buried two spade fulls deep, just scallop shells and some early 20th century pottery that was smashed by the spade. The job was too much to finish in one afternoon and I stopped after five hours to think about the next stage and the plan.
Life of North-western Europe "Smart Group"
The first butterfly of the year in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham, (TQ 224 055), was a reddish Small Tortoiseshell flying strongly northwards.
RSPB Garden Bird Watch (click on this text to record your sightings)
24 January 2004
The weather was clear with a temperature reaching 10.5 ºC in the early afternoon with a light breeze.
birds were recorded in my small garden in Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham-by-Sea.
224 055) in the very brief time I had the
chance to look out. A
Wagtail flitted from the road to a Privet
Adur Valley Biodiversity "Garden Birds" Self-entry Database (for Shoreham)
The first birds for 2004 were fifty noisy Starlings in the Sycamore Tree in Corbyn Crescent (the street tree that survived the storm of October 1987) and almost simultaneously a Herring Gull flew past. (TQ 224 055).
Installing and Maintaining the Pond
Wildlife & Countryside Services
Ponds Conservation Trust
Plant Adaptions to Aquatic Life
DRAGONFLIES Yahoo Group
British Wildlife Gardening Yahoo Group
Freshwater Life of North-western Europe "Smart Group"
Aquatic Conservation Yahoo Group
Freshwater Streams and Ditches, Lower Adur Valley
Town & Gardens 2004