The Pond Project

The photograph below shows the pond as it originally looked in 2010.

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After this picture was taken, the broken fencing was replaced by a stronger rustic construction as can be seen elsewhere on this website. Since this pond was built, however, the ditch which drains into it at the top right of the above photograph, has never flowed satisfactorily  and the pond water has regularly dried up during the spring and summer months to the detriment of the frogs, many of which did not survive. Thanks to Froglife’s initiative, and Bexley’s council officers who have kept us informed of progress, we are now able to announce that funding has been obtained for substantial changes to  site which were announced in our second news blog in November 2015.

We congratulate everyone involved in the successful grant application and look forward to these improvements which will benefit our wildlife population and improve the drainage from the board walk area. Those directly involved in the work are aware of the sighting of the hedgehog mentioned in our first November 2015 post and care will be taken not to disturb these creatures.

THE START

The work began this week and the following photographs show work taking place on Wednesday 25th November 2015.

 

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The first phase shown here is the digging of the first of the two ponds which will replace the existing one and the figures shown in our photos are Alex Draper of Froglife who is keeping a close watch on progress and a colleague who is in charge of the team currently working on the project. Whilst the work was taking place we are pleased to report that a frog was seen in the area! We are confident that there is a wealth of knowledge and experience in operation on the site. The large digging vehicle and storage area are in the distance to the right of the footpath.

Two more site visits have taken place since the last report and today, 2nd December, this is what was happening and as can be seen a large amount of  heavy duty work has taken place. The contractors, Aqua Science Ltd, who are pond and lake specialists  are operating three  diggers on site.

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P1010387 (640x480)Simon, who is the site manager for the project, advised us that the work is going well; the first of the new ponds may well be finished this week and installation of the new fence is also due to start shortly according to Alex Draper of Froglife.

It’s amazing what can happen in just a few days! These photos were taken on 5th December with the wind gusting at around 40 mph. The tree surgeon has been extremely busy.

DSCF3882 (800x600)Cut down trees to create more sunlight with the logs remaining on site to make new hibernacula

DSCF3877 (800x600)DSCF3880 (800x600)The fencing has been partially replaced on the eastern side of the pond area.

We have been notified that the first and major phase of the project is complete and today, 14th December 2015, the following six images show the finished site.

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DSCF3896 (640x480) This is the part of the project and we now look forward to next year when we can start planting and further enhancement of the site. The new fence has been designed to prevent dogs and foxes entering the pond area.

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The ponds have now filled up during the recent rainy conditions and the above picture taken on 15th January 2016 shows the current state.

7th May 2016

A spring planting day was organised by Froglife on a warm sunny Saturday when numerous species of appropriate plants and wild flowers were added to the site to improve its appearance and enhance the habitat in the fenced off pond area. Apart from  three members of the Froglife team, the volunteers were well supported by members of the local community – parents, schoolchildren and members of a local scout group who all joined in to help with the planting. Our MP, James Brokenshire, and local councillors also came along to learn more about East Wickham Open Space and the work  carried out over the last 20 years. Here are a few photographs from the family fun/planting day.

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Planting Activity (1) – two wonderful mums with their enthusiastic children!

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Planting Activity (2) – The volunteers and a member of the Froglife team watch and help as the younger helpers get stuck in!

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Planting Activity (3) – Volunteers and local residents working hard.

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James Brokenshire MP talking to Froglife Staff and Volunteers

The plants and wildflowers added to the area included Betany, Cowslips, Field Scabious, Ladies Bedstraw, Knapweed, Meadow Buttercups, Ox Eye Daisies, Ragged Robin, Salad Burnet, Self Heal, Wild Primroses, Yellow Flag Irises , Pondweed, a mix of pond edge seeds and many other appropriate species.

It was also an educational day for the children who came along with the provision of creative workshop activities about wildlife and further information to take away with them.

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It is now well over a year since this project was completed and there has been a big transformation in the area which is somewhat disappointing as there has been no follow – up to the initial launch of the project by Froglife. Although we understood that the new ponds were properly lined (cladded) by specialists to prevent water emptying, both ponds dried up very quickly during the early spring and it has not been possible to discover exactly why this happened. There may be two reasons – 1) exceptionally dry early spring (although even when the rain came the ponds did not fill up) and 2) the ditches leading from the higher ground along and above the boardwalk were not cleared and dug out by the contractors employed on the project. The latter task was too big to be undertaken by the small number of volunteers in our group. Here is the pond viewed from above in July 2017