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Ponds

Havens for wildlife

Most village ponds in the UK are man-made and historically associated with water for livestock. Also, for people in villages lacking a working well, they provided  water for drinking and washing. Some were associated with fish as a source of food, or early industrial processes that required a source of water, including reservoirs to drive watermills.

 

Unpolluted ponds can support an abundance of wildlife: living in them, breeding in them or coming to them for food. Amphibians and insects are some of the key indicators of success of a pond: the tadpole turning into the frog or toad, and the underwater nymph climbing up a reed or rush to emerge as a dragonfly, damselfly, mayfly or one of many other flies. Wildlife can populate a new pond or recovering pond very quickly and many pond plants grow rapidly.

Most of the interesting wildlife in a pond is in the shallower margins; but a sustainable pond needs to be deep enough not to freeze to the bottom in winter and ideally not dry out completely  in summer.

Surrey Wildlife Trust and the RHS provide interesting information and advice on ponds.

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Shamley Green used to have four ponds on the Green: we still have the “Duck Pond” adjacent to Woodhill Lane and the “Bricklayers’ Pond”, but previously there were two more, one outside of the Malt House, the other near the Arbuthnot Hall, both of which disappeared as a result of changes to drainage after WWII.

Frogspawn in village pond, Shamley Green, March 2021 (1).jpeg
Ponds management

Ponds Management

As both current ponds on the Green are on common land they are the formal responsibility of the Parish Council.

 

Ponds need management: left to their own devices they can quickly become clogged with vegetation. Both our ponds had become overwhelmed with vegetation by 2020 , the Duck Pond with Crassula, (a non-native invasive species) and the Bricklayers Pond with reed mace and bur-reed. This is now being dealt with by the Parish Council, but we are keeping a close eye on both ponds and recording our observations.

We  think both ponds should support a wide range of wildlife, with the Duck Pond able to be safely enjoyed by local people and visitors to the village.

 

Understanding the Duck Pond

Catchment area

To the best of our knowledge the Duck Pond is filled by rainwater draining from a small catchment area above Summer Meadow. This flows underground for some of its course and so is difficult to monitor precisely. The main run off from the Woodhill Lane valley flows into a stream that crosses under Woodhill Lane and flows north along the back of the Old Forge. While the Woodhill Lane stream continued to flow throughout the dry April-May period in 2022 due to its significantly larger catchment area and local springs, the inflow to the Duck Pond ceased.

Water levels in the Bricklayers Pond held up better during the 2022 dry spell. We understand this is fed by a spring and so is less immediately affected by changes in rainfall.

Monitoring water level

Water level monitoring

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We installed a water depth gauge in the Duck Pond in 2022, paid for by the Parish Council. It is attached to the Duck House because a post would have risked puncturing the clay lining of the pond and encouraging seepage, and is easily readable without entering the water. It is set so that the 0.5m reading aligns with the top of the weir. The level on 13 June 2022 was 0.475m so the water flow over the weir which we saw during the early June rains had ceased. This small drop in level was consistent with an expected evaporation rate of about 3.5mm per day, in a week without significant rain, though there was still a small inflow to the pond. SGEG takes weekly readings from the gauge and records them. We do not have detailed information about the pond depth, but at its deepest point on a line between the seat and the duck house the pond is about 0.75m.
 

We also have a rain gauge in the village and are keeping records so we can see how rainfall relates to our pond levels. In summary, 2022 was an extreme year in terms of the period with no rain and high temperature, and the 2023 spring / summer season started with an exceptionally long dry period, with no rain from mid-May to mid-June. Rainfall in the whole of June 2023 was about 20mm, less than half the monthly average. Click the dates above for graphs.

9 ducklings! August 2021.jpg

Family on the Duck Pond 2021

Water levels

We are very grateful for the reports and analysis done by Jerry Bird which should help us to better understand what is happening. One thing is clear: there is no easy solution to the seasonal variability of water in this pond with its small catchment area. It would not be appropriate to fill it with tap water, given the purification chemicals used.

Click on the following for related stories and news articles :

Rainfall 2022

Duck pond update Oct 22

Duck pond update June 22

Ducklings spring 22

Ringo's story

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