The Pond Story

Sunday, 22 August 2010
Ever since I was small I've wanted a pond. I've always been too lazy to dig one and too mean to buy a liner. When my mate Martin offered me a liner for free I snatched his hand off!I did some research and found a helpful leaflet/download on the British Dragonfly Society website.

Working from that leaflet the size of pond I could expect to get from the liner was about 8ft by 9ft so I staked out a rectangle of those dimensions and outlined it with string. Then, following roughly a plan I had sketched out, I laid some rope out to get an idea of how the pond would be sited.

Happy with that I sprayed the grass with paint to create a better outline and began removing turf.

By the time I had the shape of the pond-to-be cleared I was ready for my evening meal.

The two 'bays' will be shallow and gently sloping, and there'll be deeper water opposite the 'point'. Some of the spoil might be used to make a mound, most will be spread over the dip in the garden by the fence. Meanwhile I shall quietly contemplate the next move.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Another layer dug out yesterday.

It rained today so I shifted the spoil.

Thursday, 26 August 2010
Things were slow drying out but I jumped in with the spade nonetheless. Deepened the deep bit and spread more spoil. More drying time required before the final shaping I think.

Saturday, 28 August 2010
Sunshine got me out making tweaks yesterday. The trough for the edge of the liner to sit in is cut, so it' now ready for the final contouring and levelling before getting some sand to line it.

Sunday, 29 August 2010
Daft as it seems today's job was putting soil back in the hole! I'd overdone the digging and wanted to re-profile to provide a greater shallow area. Once things dry out a bit the contours will be smoothed and then the task of levelling the edge will begin.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I managed to get the pond dried out a bit more this morning in the hot sun. Pity the days are getting shorter and the sun isn't on the pond for so long now. After my evening meal I hope I managed to get the edge level. It doesn't look much different in the photo below to how it did last time. Now I have to decide if I line the hole with sand or carpet. Another day of drying won't go amiss.

Friday, 3 September 2010
Having been offered some carpet FOC I decided to go with carpet and sand!

Not a lot of sand, just enough to smooth the contours under the carpet.

The carpet was just about the perfect size.

The liner was quite a bit larger than the hole required. I suppose I could have dug a bigger pond.

Instead I made a last minute bird bath.

All that is left to do now is some landscaping, and then the pond can be populated with plants - I saw a midge laying eggs while the water level was rising!

Friday, 3 September 2010
My mate, Martin, who gave me the pond liner said I could have some rocks too. Yesterday I called round to laugh at watch him building a garage, and to have a look at the rocks. he talked me into loading some in the back of my car. I also had a look at his pond, made with a moulded fibreglass liners, which is nicely mature after just over a year. I'll be cadging some plants and snails off him later!

And so to work. The rocks have been piled up loosely to provide hidey-holes for frogs and toads. Some of the pile of sods have been used to level out the pond edge and the rest upturned in the dip by the fence, which is levelling off nicely. I'll top up the levels later today and start planning the planting

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Sunday, 28 August 2011
It's almost a year since the water first went in the pond and it's now full of life. The recent cooler weather has seen the floating algae sink and reveal more of what lay beneath.

Emergent plants are yellow flag, purple loosestrife, water mint. Surface plants include water forget-me-not, brooklime, broad-leaved pondweed and bog bean. The pond life includes water boatmen, lesser water boatmen, diving beetles, three species of snail, water louse, leeches and others. Last week a dragonfly came to have a look and the birds which visit the garden use the pond for bathing and drinking. A little more marginal cover to conceal and shade the liner and I will be almost done with the tinkering.

Tuesday, 7 March 2012
The recent warmer weather has seen the pond coming to life. Waterboatmen skitting about on the surface dodging the snails and a brighter green to the pondweed. Although I have a peer into the pond most days it was this morning I noticed something new. A ball of frog spawn. That will give me something else to keep an eye on as I watch it develop and the tadpoles hatch.

Monday, 19 March 2012
Although the snails are feasting on the frog spawn the remaining little black dots are more like apostrophes now and some are starting to twitch.

Saturday, 24th March 2012
With this warm weather the pond is really coming to life. The tadpoles hatched a few days ago and are now exploring their temporary home. Plants are starting to grow - there are new shoots on the loosestrife and the broadleaved pondweed has fresh broad leaves appearing. Waterboatmen are active, and leeches have been swimming around.

I took some time out to sit by the pond and scoop around with a kiddy's fishing net tipping the captured creatures into an old white soup bowl. Many of them were tiny like the midge larvae, others were very active like the leeches. Not having fish in the pond means there are plenty of aquatic mini beasts.

There were quite a lot of the two critters in the photo, in various stages of growth. I knew there were freshwater louses in the pond and I thought I'd seen freshwater shrimps too. The pond dipping session proved they were indeed both present. The photo could be better, but they were pretty lively!

I also found out that there is a nice stinky layer of silt in the centre of the pond, just like you find in a 'real' pond. After eighteen months it is naturalising nicely.

Saturday, 19 May 2012
Despite the cold spring the wettest April since 1910 has kept the level up in the pond and the plants are doing well. Last week I moved a bistort plant that had sprung up at one side of the pond as it was blocking my view from the house of the gravel where the birds are now bathing regularly.

The bistort has perked up and all the other plants seem to be thriving. The water mint in particular has multiplied greatly from last year.From certain angles the pond looks quite natural.

The tadpoles are doing well and I'm hoping to see some dragonfly activity this year. Even if it's only visiting ones rather than some hatching out.

I might add some more gravel and stones, and more clay and plants are definitely required at some stage. That said I'm happy with progress so far.

Thursday, 14 June 2012
 The tadpoles had been growing legs but were still to be seen on the gravel and shallows in numbers on sunny days. Then all of a sudden they disappeared, bar a few individuals. Where had they gone? Maybe the cooler weather had driven them deeper into the weed. After spotting one taking a breather yesterday I reckon they've turned into froglets and hopped it!

Thursday, 12 July 2012
Today I spotted the first damselfly visiting the pond. A hawker flew over and away last autumn, but this blue-tailed damsel stuck around long enough for me to get a ropey photo of it. I'm assuming it's a visitor, but it might have come in with some weed as a nymph.

There were also a couple of spiders scurrying about on the surface with egg sacs in tow.

The loosestrife has come on this year.

Friday, 8 March 2013
Looking at the Pond Story page just now I realise frogspawn appeared in my pond on the same date last year as this - 7th March. I'd spotted a frog in the pond earlier in the week. Then two, and then four. They wouldn't let me get close before plopping under the surface and hiding in the weed. One considered itself so well hidden with it's head in some weed that it didn't flinch when I gave it a poke with a finger!

Yesterday I spotted a few more frogs. I counted 19 of them. Another count today came to 23! I'm pretty sure there were a few more lurking beneath the surface too.

Where all the frogs have come from I don't know. But they're having a whale of a time. I hope the predicted frosts don't do for the spawn over the next week or so.

If you fancy playing Spot the Frogs click here. The answer (I think) can be found here.

The fishing line over the pond was put there to keep ducks off. A pair of mallards landed on the pond late last year and ate most of the snails. I've seen one or two snails since, so I'm hoping they'll breed as rapidly as my initial stock did and recolonise the pond this summer.

Monday, June 10 2013
With last winter lingering so long it's taken my pond some time to wake up, but now it has it's teeming with life. The tadpoles are doing well, some almost froglets now, and full grown frogs are still popping their heads up. Beetles are busy, waterboatmen and back swimmers are about, pond skaters are feasting.

After two springs the yellow flag have decided to flower, the bog bean and water mint are spreading nicely and some bistort I planted last autumn has taken hold along with some pondweed.

A few weeks ago I spotted the first newt in my pond which was pleasing. The  species is uncertain as it was the briefest of glimpses and the blanket weed made any further sightings difficult. After the mallards descended last year and ate most of my snails it's nice to see them making a comeback. It might only be a small pond, but it's always changing. Yesterday I spotted a couple of caddis larvae dragging their homes around. The only disappointment is the level keeps dropping. I fear the pond has sprung a leak.

Sunday, 16 June 2013
Despite the freeze up following the frogs' first spawning they spawned after the thaw and almost all of the spawn hatched. Now I have both tadpoles in various stages of development and a few froglets. There are some frogs in evidence too.

I'd seen a couple of recently emerged damselfly by the pond last week but couldn't get a camera to it before it hid. Today I managed to get a photo of slightly more mature azure damsel. As damselflies have never been visitors to my garden before the pond was dug I'm fairly sure the immature ones I've seen have been bred in my pond. Which is very satisfying.

Monday, 1 July 2013
I spotted another damselfly that had emerged today and managed to grab a picture of it- complete with exuvia (below).

Monday, 7 October 2013
Fungi sprouting all over the garden at the moment. Including some fine specimens around the pond edge - where the liner meets the grass.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014
The world is waking up. Birds are singing all day staking claim to territories and advertising for mates. Daffodils are sprouting forth. My pond is full of froggy activity.With the sun shining today the window has been open and the constant croaking from the pond has been a background noise. As soon as a bird flies over the twenty or more frog splashily dive for cover and the normal hum of the day returns - for a while.

Last year I caught a brief glimpse of a newt in the pond. yesterday I saw something white in the weeds which I took for drowned slug. Closer inspection revealed it to be an expired newt. I fished it out and wondered what had been the cause of its demise.

This morning, prior to the racket from the frogs, I spied the first frog spawn of the year. This being a few days earlier than the last two springs when I first spied spawn on the 7th of March. Also the hopping amphibians have chosen to spawn on the south side of the pond away from the gravel shallows where they've spawned previously.

Monday, 10 March 2014
Those noisy frogs have been busy fornicating. As a consequence there is a lot more frog spawn in my pond than last year. I thought it was all over and done with at the weekend, but when the sun shone today they popped their heads above water and started chasing each other around all over again!

Usually they all crash dive when I set foot anywhere near the pond, but a couple didn't today. Instead they tried the 'if I don't move I'm invisible' trick, allowing me to take some snaps with my new 'fishing camera'. The other day when all the frogs had done their disappearing act when I approached the pond I caught a fleeting glimpse of a newt wriggling down into the weed. One of these days I might get a decent sighting of one. They're elusive beggars. Unless they're dead...

Like most compacts my new camera is pretty good for close up stuff, and the results are perfectly adequate for blogging.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015
The frogs began arriving for their annual gathering a couple of weeks ago, their numbers gradually increasing until there were 83 of them countable in a photo I took. Despite the leak in the pond making it shallower and consequently the weed denser the frogs have been undeterred. With a rise in temperature the first spawn showed up bang on cue on the 8th.

As well as taking some stills I've used the compact camera (mostly) to make some video footage which is hardly professional quality but fun nonetheless.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015
Slowly the frog numbers have been declining. Judging by their behaviour I think the females leave once they have spawned and the remaining desperate males attack the few females that are left. Sometimes with fatal consequences.

The mass of spawn is covering something like a fifth to a quarter of the pond's surface.I'm glad I didn't clear out the weed last winter as it'll give the tadpoles plenty of cover from predators.

Saturday, 25 May 2019
A couple of years ago the pond sprang a leak. Last summer's heatwave saw it dried up and shrunk to almost nothing. More bog than pond. Even when topped up by the water table (sodden ground) it was devoid of life. Just plants.

The pond being cleared  ready for the liner removal.
I pulled the leaking liner out of my wildlife pond last autumn and had intended to get a replacement liner in over the winter but the hole in the ground filled with water which was still deep by the time the frogs returned and it stayed that way long after they had spawned, departed and there were tadpoles. The recent dry stretch has seen the level drop rapidly, to the point where there were almost more tadpoles than water!

Linerless and being reprofiled before the frogs arrived
When the frogs had gone and the water cleared I was fortunate to spot a newt. Then another. And another. In total I saw five newts. Definitely five individuals as I counted them all at the same time. There might have been more lurking in the leaf litter on the bottom. I netted a couple out to confirm the species.

The newts seemed to have disappeared by the time I got my new liner and was ready for action. However when I was clearing the pond edge I saw what I took to be a dead one. Stiff legged and on its back I picked it up and paced it on a rock. I went inside to get a camera to take a photo or two but when I returned the newt had crawled part way under the stone! I thought its eye looked bright for a corpse. It must have been playing dead as a predator avoidance technique.

What to do with the tadpoles? The only solution I could think of was to scoop them out and hold them in buckets along with some pond sludge and leaf litter. Then get the liner in and part filled with tap water before putting the taddies and original water in too.

Rather than tip all the sludge in the pond I decided to leave that in the buckets in the pond while everything settles for a day or two.

The next stage is to finish off fitting the liner, which is rather too large so I might extend part of the pond, before starting to add pond plants.

Saturday, 29 June 2019
The tadpoles survived the transfer process and some have become tiny frogs and left the scene, the newts have returned.

Within days of the pond being refilled midges and other flies were laying eggs and soon midge larvae were in evidence. While clearing some duckweed I scooped out a tiny pond snail. Where did they come from? A more understandable visitor has been a female broad bodied chaser flitting over the water and perching nearby in the hot sun which has materialised at last.