POND…ERING – WHAT LIES BENEATH?

 

One of the many reasons to have a wildlife pond is to discover the wonderfully fascinating plants and animals that live around, on and beneath the water’s surface.

The daily struggles in and around wildlife ponds of the hunters and the hunted, are every bit as fascinating as those we see on our tv’s in the enthralling wildlife documentaries. You know the ones, those featuring action-packed dramatic scenes, from far flung destinations.

Wildlife ponds are also an incredible way to attract nature into your outdoor space for you to enjoy, be entertained by and to marvel at.

Creating a Garden Pond for wildlife

Newly Installed Garden Wildlife Pond

 

Build a pond from the size of (and even using) a Belfast Sink or half Whisky Barrell, to any size up from that, and you will be amazed by the wildlife it attracts. The larger the better, but a pond of any size will be a huge help for your local wildlife!

Smooth Newts from Pond Dipping at Wildacres

Male (L) and Female (R) Smooth Newts at Wildacres

 

Wildlife Ponds for biodiversity

Female Smooth Newt at Wildacres

 

So what creatures are regularly seen in Wildlife Ponds?

As stated previously, wildlife ponds are an almost instantaneous way to help wildlife. Often within hours of creating a pond it will be inhabited by the likes of Diving Beetles, Water Boatmen, Whirligig Beetles, and a myriad of other fascinating and entertaining creatures. Who couldn’t but smile at the sight of a myriad of tiny little Whirligig beetles zooming around in circles like miniature out of control speedboats.

 

Whirligig Beetles in Pond at Wildacres

 

Or when watching the water boatmen swimming upside down propelled by broad strokes of their paddle like legs in search of prey.

 

Water Boatman at Wildacres

 

Or the watching the huge great diving beetles surface for air then resubmerging to hunt and eat anything smaller than them, or maybe a water scorpion (harmless to us) who will use those scorpion-like mandibles to snatch their prey.

 

Great Diving Beetle (L) and Water Scorpion (R)

 

Or perhaps your pond will be colonized by our native Stickleback, or now naturalised, small minnows.

 

Minnow from Pond at Wildacres

 

Male 3-Spined Stickleback from pond at Wildacres

 

You might be lucky enough to see some of our aquatic spiders, one of which was featured on the recent fantastic BBC Wild Isles documentary on the Wildlife of the UK and Ireland, narrated by the wonderful Sir. David Attenbourough. The Raft spider, which despite its large size, can walk on water utilising the water surface tension and its water repellent hairs not to break the waters surface thus allowing it to chase its prey and then when ready plunge beneath the surface to snatch fish as large as sticklebacks amongst other creatures on the menu.

There are many other equally as fascinating aquatic spiders that can be seen hunting around the pond margin, similarly running across the water surface on the hunt.

 

Pirate_Wolf_Spider_Walk_On_Water

Pirate Wolf Spider ‘Walking On Water’ at Wildacres

 

Not forgetting our newts and frogs, who as soon as they emerge from hibernation in late winter and early spring have an insurmountable urge to make their way back, often to their natal waterbody. Here they will mate, and the females will spawn.

 

Frogs_Spawning_in_Pond_at_Wildacres

Frogs Spawning in Pond at Wildacres

 

Female newts can lay up to 300 eggs and will carefully wrap each one up in the leaf of a pond plant. Whilst our common frog will lay a clump of spawn. Both species will then quickly disperse into dense undergrowth and damp sheltered areas to spend the rest of the season.

 

Large Red Damselfly

 

The lifecycle of our Dragonflies and Damselflies is equally as fascinating. They spend most of their life in the aquatic living nymph stage, with dragonflies this can be from 1-4 years.

Dragonfly larvae are voracious predators that strike with lightning speed, using extended mouthparts to snatch their prey. An adaptation that inspired the form of the monster in the” Alien” movies! These dragonfly nymphs will eat anything that moves that is smaller than them, a dining rule that applies to many pond dwelling creatures!

 

Common_blue_damselflies_mating

Common Blue Damselflies mating

 

emperor_dragonfly_nymph

Emperor Dragonfly Nymph

 

They then emerge to pupate into beautiful stunningly effective winged hunters. Even though we think of Dragonflies and Damselflies as winged animals, this phase of their life is the shortest, lasting, depending on the species, from only a few weeks to a few months.

 

female_black_tailed_Skimmer_dragonfly

Female Black Tailed Skimmer Dragonfly

 

So why not open a whole new world of fascination, wonder and joy by creating your own wildlife pond habitat. You will be helping protect our precious wildlife and doing your bit to reverse the serious biodiversity crisis we are experiencing.

 

At Wildacres we are running our popular series of workshops this Spring, Summer and autumn on Creating a Wildlife Pond. April workshops are Sold Out but we have new dates scheduled so why not visit us and enjoy a fascinating workshop, finding out all about how you can create your own wonderfully fascinating wildlife pond!

We look forward to meeting you here!

Brian and Gilly

common_frog_wildacres

Large Common ‘Happy’ Frog at Wildacres