GCN Pond Health

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GCN Pond

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Debris pile

Too much rotting organic matter, such as leaves and other dead vegetation, resting on the pond bottom reduces water oxygen levels and is detrimental to pond wildlife. The steep bank on the left contributes to the pond high nutrient levels, too. However, some dead organic matter is useful as a substrate for plants and invertebrates. The best time to rake out a pond is autumn, before wildlife and minibeasts go into hibernation and after plants have finished flowering. Dredging’s are best left on the edge of the pond for a few days to allow minibeasts to escape back into the pond. Encroaching vegetation can become a problem, but it can be pulled out or divided; this should be done in autumn.

Making sure there are sufficient logs, stones and rough vegetation at the pond edge, is also important, especially during winter when these will be used as hibernation sites by frogs, newts and others.

I’ve raked out approximately half the 600mm deep GCN pond so far, and my debris pile is already 2 metres high X 3 metres wide and 4 metres long, consisting of rotting leaves, branches, twigs, weed and silt. I’ve left some oxygenating plants in place, but mostly the pond is clear of vegetation. I have plenty of oxygenating plants available in the Swamp to transplant later if necessary, but I will wait until the end of this year’s growing season to see how the pond has responded to raking. Plants are needed to consume excess nutrients and oxygenate the water.

Duckweed and watermeal are found in nutrient rich ponds, those where a buildup of leaves on the bottom creates stratification. Black, smelly ooze is a primary food source for duckweed and nutrient reduction will help control it, as will bubble aeration. On a windy day, the duckweed blown to the northern end of the GCN pond where it can be shovelled or scooped out. Duckweed and watermeal are very prolific plants, able to double their growth every one to two days.

After raking out the easy section, I’m now clearing a 5 metre long choked section at the south end of the GCN Pond.

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South end of the GCN Pond

Each year bulrushes, yellow irises and reed grass creep further along the pond. My plan is to reclaim a five metre section this year by raking out some of the plants that choke the pond. The problem is that I would need a donkey pulling on my long handled jumbo ditching fork to stand any chance of raking out these plants, and I don’t have a donkey. I do have a sod cutter, though. The sod cutter works vertically and horizontally to cut the root systems into manageable pieces, allowing me to rake them out with the ditching fork.

An intermittent mournful groaning and wailing sound has interrupted my otherwise tranquil time working at the pond. It has baffled me for days. It happened this afternoon, so I set out to track it down. I was beginning to suspect someone was playing a trick on me. The culprit turned out to be a gate post. When the gate was open, gusting winds rushed through the rectangular bolt slot and exited through a small hole in the top of the post.

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Moaning and wailing gate post

Are You At Home?

Red, the north marsh dog fox, calls on the badgers to ask for their help with the Wilden Marsh Christmas preparations. Mr and Mrs Badger appear not to be at home. Red notices fresh badger poo in the latrine outside the sett and thinks the badgers are hiding from him; he rushes back and forth trying to catch them out..

Lotta Otter

It’s around six weeks since I posted an otter video, and that’s because I haven’t put OtterCam out since then, but I’ve seen quite a few otters on Wilden Marsh in the meantime. Last evening I setup OtterCam on a random part of the River Stour bank. I was interested to know how long it would be before an otter turned up in front of the camera. The answer is two hours.

 

Foxy Games

Yesterday the cattle moved themselves out of the Orchid Field and back into the Rhombus Field, so I moved them on into the Tenant Farmer’s Field.

In the TF Field this morning, I found this fox playing roundup with the herd. The cattle were totally oblivious to the fox’s game.

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This fox doesn’t want me to join in his game.

Watching Otters

I was down on the marsh this morning, otter watching. The River Stour is low, flat calm, and fairly clear. Six otters swam in circles, underwater. I think there is a holt in the riverbank, because the otters were disappearing under the bank vegetation and not coming up for air. Now and again one would surface, but there was no indication of when or where, and their time on the surface was minimal. Nice to see them, though.

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Otter surfacing

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Otter diving

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Otter swimming