Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Blakemoor pondlife ideal home exhibition

Loss of habitat is one of the main threats to our wildlife. Mostly the loss is not intended to hit the species involved but simply the result of how we use and re-use the landscape. Habitat recreation can be tricky. Ancient woodland is impossible without a time machine and most landscapes take time and expertise: reed cutters, hardy sheep, nest creation.....It's all a lot of effort. However ponds are just about the easiest habitat there is, something anyone can do. Much of the advice that used to worry would be pond diggers turns out to be not essential. Once upon a time it seemed that ponds always have to be large and deep, over 1 metre certainly so frogs didn’t freeze, and with stepped edges like an inverted Mayan temple to make sure you got all the different plant zones.
Thankfully most of these problems turn out to be myths, well and truly nailed by Pond Action (now the Freshwater Habitats Trust. They have lots of excellent information and advice at http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/habitats/pond/). Shallow, temporary, small ponds do very well for many plants and animals, although fish may be the exception. Good water quality certainly helps, and also ponds created in clusters so you get a bit of variety. It is surprising just how varied adjacent ponds can become. Nor do you have to worry about getting the ponds planted up. They will colonise rapidly and over doing the planting can miss out the earlier pioneer stages as beetles and bugs explore the new opportunities. Given how easy it is to create new ponds and how rich they are in wildlife it is the one thing everybody should do.
Here are some fine new ponds in a field corner just by the entrance to Blakemoor Farm. This is a wet  hollow, more or less where the road to Cresswell sometimes floods over. Rather than dig out the whole area (which would be a shame… the wet grassland is valuable in its own right) they have put in a cluster of ponds. They look a bit gaunt and square at this stage, but that is just how we see the world: the bugs and plants do not fret about the geometry of an ideal home. Great to see some pro-active, thoughtfully done habitat creation. These are ponds to be proud of.

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