Pond Conservation supporters visit Pinkhill Meadow
Pinkhill Meadow in Oxfordshire is a very special place, a place to see something now rare in much of the countryside: clean, unpolluted wildlife-rich ponds. On a beautiful September day Pond Conservation supporters were treated to a guided tour.
Although Pinkhill Meadow - which belongs to Thames Water - is comparatively tiny at only 2.5 hectares, one in five of Britain’s wetland plants and freshwater animals have been recorded in its 40-odd ponds, including the pollution-sensitive Blunt-leaved Pondweed.
Detailed monitoring over 20 years by Pond Conservation has shown that the ponds are some of the richest in the country.
Jeremy Biggs said: “Pinkhill demonstrates just how important well-designed clean-water ponds can be, and how little space you need for ponds like this”.
“But it also shows how alarmingly rare such places are now: there are really only two places in the whole of Oxfordshire where we can show people ponds as good as this. Something that ought to commonplace – unpolluted ponds, rich in wildlife – have become an endangered rarity.
Owned by Thames Water, the ponds on Pinkhill Meadow were created in the early 1990s in a joint project with the Environment Agency, with design advice from Pond Conservation.
To become a Pond Conservation and to take part in future pond dipping days out, join online here.
Million Ponds Project: first ponds created
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust's new reserve at Gallow's Bridge Farm will soon be home to a complex of new high quality wildlife ponds. Helped by extra funding from the Million Ponds Project digging is about to start in this top spot for making clean water ponds.
The work will help the endagered plants Tassel Stonewort and Tubular Water-dropwort. With luck this will become the third set of high quality ponds local to Oxford – after Pinkhill Meadow and Otmoor.
Also part of Million Ponds Project: new ponds in Suffolk created by Tom Langton and colleagues will provide more living space for great crested newts in one of the country's top dozen sites for the species; Dews ponds, a Special Area for Conservation, which means a site important on a European scale for this species.
Autumn: season of mists and…..well, misinformation about looking after ponds.
As soon as leaves begin to turn yellow, prepare yourself for the ‘anti-leaf’ advice that goes with autumn.
Here's a typical example from a well-known ‘expert’ book series, sold in every garden centre, on the subject trees and leaves:
"If deciduous trees are nearby it is essential to put a fine mesh net over the surface to prevent leaves falling into the water."
But is this really necessary?
It is perfectly natural for leaves, twigs and branches to fall into ponds. Once in the pond they are a source of food, shelter and case-making materials for animals. Tannins in leaves probably supress the growth of algae.
In my own garden pond one of the richest areas is the most shaded part, with leafy sediment. It's a pattern seen in ponds in the countryside too.
At present there is no information about just how many leaves are right for a pond: certainly some are good - the only question is at what point do leaves, if at all, start to reduce the wildlife value of the pond.
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