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 or to dry out in summer.
Shamley Green used to have four ponds on the Green; they included the “Duck Pond” adjacent to Woodhill Lane and the “Bricklayers’ Pond”. Previously there were two more ponds: one outside of the Malt House, the other near the Arbuthnot Hall. Both ponds disappeared as a result of changes to drainage after WWII.
Ponds need management: left to their own devices they can quickly become clogged with vegetation. Both ponds had become overwhelmed with vegetation, the Duck Pond with Crassula, (a non-native invasive species) and the Bricklayers Pond with reed mace and bur-reed. This is now being managed.
Both current ponds on the Green are on common land and are the formal responsibility of the Parish Council.
For information on management prior to 2022 click here and follow the Pond Management link.
Our objectives for the ponds in the village are that they:
· Should support a wide range of wildlife, with priority to ducks at the Duck Pond
· Can be safely enjoyed by local people
· Can be managed annually by people from the community.
Village Ponds Management Update June 2022
Following recent rain the Duck Pond has refilled, the layer of pollen has washed through and more ducklings have hatched. The Parish Council contractor has started a monthly mow of the area around the seat.
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 has continued to flow throughout the dry April-May period due to its significantly larger catchment area and local springs, the inflow to the Duck Pond ceased.
Water level monitoring
We have installed a water depth gauge in the Duck Pond, 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. It 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 was 0.475m so water flow over the weir which we saw during the early June rains has now ceased. This small drop in level is consistent with an expected evaporation rate of about 3.5mm per day in a week without significant rain though there is still a small inflow to the pond. It remains to be seen whether there is significant seepage from the pond, but the current evidence suggests not. SGEG will take weekly readings from the gauge and record 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. During the recent dry spell the water level probably dropped about 0.3m.
Longacre School have kindly agreed to get a rain gauge and monitor village rainfall (during term time). When it is next dry we will apply paint markers to the invert of the pipe that feeds the new ditch outside the Malt House so that we can monitor the flow from the pipe.
There is no easy solution to the seasonal variability of water in this pond, given the small catchment area. It would not be appropriate to fill it, eg with tap water, given the purification chemicals used.
Family on the Duck Pond 2021
In order not to interfere with wildlife, work on ponds is best done in the autumn. Current plans are to:
Replace the rotted upper layer of beams forming the revetment parallel to Woodhill Lane. These are holding back the bank and are crumbling away. This is a safety issue rather than a water retention issue.
Clear the ditches leading into and out of the pond of debris to ensure a good flow through. The Parish Council will decide whether this can be done by volunteers or needs to be done by a contractor.
If the Waverley countryside managers agree, to remove the cover from the rotted Crassula pile and allow vegetation to grow over it.
Water levels in the Bricklayers Pond have held up well during the dry spell. We understand this is fed by a spring and so is less immediately affected by changes in rainfall. There may be a need for autumn work to remove reed mace, depending on growth between now and then, and some cutting back of plant and tree growth to preserve the view of the pond to be decided nearer the time.