Sunday, 15 March 2015

Disappointment at the allotment pond

Mother's Day and other appointments meant only two members of FARG were able to go to the allotment site where there is a substantial pond. At this time of year we like to clear the remains of last year's vegetation from around the refugia along the north bank so that sunlight and hence warmth can get to them and also it means on subsequent visits we can lift them to see what might be hiding beneath.
The first one was easy to find and soon cleared ready for a lift. Just one Frog jumped out. There was little else apart from a few dead Brown lipped banded snails. We had hoped for some Ground beetles or fresh signs of Short tailed field voles and maybe a frog or a Toad or two but it wasn't to be.
The second proved  harder to find hidden under the fallen rushes but was duly cleared and lifted, no amphibians at all at this one only a couple of millipedes and no sign of any other activity. We did disturb a small Plume Moth of an unknown species while cutting the overhanging vegetation away.
A check round the margins of this side of the pond showed that no spawn had been laid yet.
Continuing along the bank to the next two refugia these again were cleared and inspected to find nothing at all beneath apart from a small number of dead snails and the remains of last summers vole nests again.
Once all the trimming works were finished we walked the full circuit of the pond and confirmed there was no spawn to be found.
Some of the aquatic vegetation is almost reaching the surface and we are hopeful that once the weather warms up again there will be a mass spawning of frogs, toads and Newts.
Around the pond area all was pretty quiet with only a flock of Long tailed tits in the large trees along the road embankment being noted,a look at the nearby ditch didn't give any indication that Water voles are still present access for viewing is very restricted from this side so we might have to try getting into the field on the far bank. Otherwise only few Blackbirds being noted, a male at the allotment gates was seen carrying a small beakful of food.
It will be worth having another conservation day towards the end of next month and we'll try to remove as much if the Greater reedmace that has appeared as we can. It will also be time to survey for newt eggs. Watch this space for details of the date, do come along it you can.