To encourage the return of a wide variety of wildlife, one of the projects supported by the Beacon Hill Society is the maintenance of existing ponds.
One, situated adjacent to the road on the northern boundary of the wood, is depicted on several old maps of the area. On November 9th 2003, about a dozen members and children assembled at the pond. Following the long dry spell, the pond was in fact completely lacking in water, which meant we were able to work in the middle of the hollow without any need for wellies or waders. A good deal of the surrounding overhanging branches were cut back and removed, and some willow trees which had colonised the centre of the pond were grubbed out, and removed with the aid of an ingenious method of ropes and a pulley, plus lots of muscle power.
We agreed that it would be necessary to employ mechanical aid to remove the accumulated leaf-mould and silt which had built up to about a foot in depth across the pond area. This will be undertaken in the New Year, by Alan Connock and his small digger.
My own personal involvement came about as a result of the small advertisement in the Fosseway Magazine, advising readers of the work party, and as a representative of English Nature (voluntary), I was a little concerned that if the pond was a potential breeding habitat for great crested newts, and therefore had protected status, it might be necessary to obtain clearance from English Nature before work could in fact be carried out. In the event, as the pond had dried out, and there was thus no evidence of newt occupancy, there was no problem. I have agreed with the Committee that I will carry out a number of surveys in the early months of 2004, starting in February, both to establish the presence of any amphibians, and also the colonisation by aquatic insects and other invertebrates. It is also possible that some aquatic plants may appear, although this is unlikely without human intervention. There are various pond weeds which are both non-native and invasive, and if these should appear, rapid action needs to be taken eradicate them from the pond.
There are several other ponds or potential ponds within the wood’s boundaries, and hopefully we can re-establish these as well; the provision of a number of ponds within close proximity is of great benefit to wildlife, and if amphibians do appear, which is quite likely, their populations will increase rapidly, and could provide a valuable educational resource in the future.
Paul Newman 12/03