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Conservation and Habitat Management For discussion of the creation and maintenance of wild habitats for caudates and other amphibians, and on amphibian conservation issues.

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Old 2nd March 2009   #1
Peter Parrot
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Default Pond creation

I thought as my first post that I would show you all one of the recent projects that our ARG is undertaking.



We have been busy preparing to create and improve habitat for native herpetofauna. Gaining permission from landowners to do so, sourcing funding to do so, motivating and training a volunteer work force all takes a considerable amount of time, not to mention all the red tape involved i.e; risk assessments and project reports etc. Click the image to open in full size.

However, we are now in a postion to crack on with the work, and hopefully we will have some ponds installed in time for the approaching amphibian breeding season. I am pleased to say that work started at one of the sites just a few days before christmas, and there are now five ponds of varying size and depth installed at the site.

Here is a bit of a run down on how it all transpired;

Set in 1000 acres of glorious parklands, Margam Country Park, (just outside Port Talbot) features a picturesque Tudor-Gothic style Victorian Mansion House, a magnificent 18th century Orangery, a 12th Century Chapter House, ornamental gardens and probably the best deer herd in Wales. Also on site is a narrow gauge railway, children's adventure playground, and farm trail, together with a mixed coarse fishery at Furzemill Pond and numerous trails and walks. Until recently, there was also a pet’s corner at the Park and a large woodland paddock which housed a group of Wild Boar. Approximately a year ago the new Park manager came into post. I have been working very closely with the manager and it is plainly obvious that he would like to do his utmost to improve conditions for the biodiversity of the Park. All four widespread species of reptile can be found in the Park as well as common frog, toad and palmate newt. In addition, great crested newts are found at a site not too far away.

There are several fresh water bodies already in existence in the Park, but the majority of them are stocked with fish. The common toad breeds successfully in at least two of the Park`s ponds, and palmate newts also breed in one of the formal lily ponds which happens to be fish free. Frogs do not appear to be faring so well, and were only seen to metamorphose from one spot in the Park this year and not in any substantial numbers. The addition of a series of fish free ponds of varying size and depth would seem to be the way forward. A meeting with the Park manager at the end of the summer presented an opportunity to suggest exactly that. It was agreed that if the Wild Boar were removed from the Park that multiple objectives would be achieved;

1. A significant health & safety risk would be removed.
2. The Park would no longer require a zoo license
3. The vacated Wild Boar paddock would present an ideal opportunity for West Glamorgan ARG and BTCV Cymru to work together and create a habitat that would benefit biodiversity greatly and herpetofauna and Odonata (Dragonflies & Damselflies) in particular.

The images show some of the former residents, some standing water and a pig sty before we started work.
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Old 2nd March 2009   #2
Chris Michaels
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Default Re: Pond creation

Sounds like a fantastic project; good job! Please post some more pics of how the sites are turning out!

Chris



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Old 2nd March 2009   #3
Rayson
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Default Re: Pond creation

Hi peter parrot,

That is such a meaningful, productive and fulfilling project. If more people can think like that, the world would be so much more peaceful and happy. Thank you for sharing that.

Regards.



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Old 2nd March 2009   #4
Peter Parrot
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Default Re: Pond creation

Thanks all for the positive comments




The area of the former Wild Boar paddock and the nearby former pet`s corner will be developed into “Model Wildlife Gardens”. As such, it will benefit the local wildlife whilst also inspiring the visiting public to do similar things with their own gardens where possible. Furthermore, the site is a short walk away from the new Field Studies Centre, which is a residential educational facility for children and adults alike, presenting the opportunity for the site to be accessed on occasion as an outdoor classroom. Ticking all of these various boxes has made it easier to secure funding from the Countryside Council of Wales to start the first stage of the project, and I am pleased to say that the Wild Boar vacated on the 19th of December, and pond excavation began on the 22nd. At the close of play on the 23rd, all Rhododendron on site had been removed and a total of six ponds and adjoining connecting shallow water and marsh areas were created, thus the goal of having ponds in place in time for the amphibian breeding season had at least been achieved at the site.
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Old 3rd March 2009   #5
Peter Parrot
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Default Re: Pond creation

There are now several shallow pools which I hope will attract frogs and adjoining vernal and marsh areas which Odonata will find hard to resist. Two larger deeper ponds have also been created with great crested newts as the chief target beneficiaries. There are no breeding records relating to great crested newts in the Park. However, there have been alleged occasional terrestrial nocturnal sightings by torch light. There is a colony not at all far away, and I hope that the provision of the two purpose made fish free ponds will provide an opportunity for natural colonization. A busy road may prove to be too much of a hurdle however, in which case West Glamorgan ARG can think about speaking with CCW & HCT about reintroduction possibilities.

The images show one of the deeper ponds in the foreground, and shallower pools to either side and the background. The pond in the last image is also one of the deeper ones, is entirely fish free (as are all the others) and is intended to suit Great crested Newts requirements.
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Old 3rd March 2009   #6
Kerry1968
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Default Re: Pond creation

Hello, I hope you can continue to update us with pictures of these ponds as they mature. It will be great if you get some amphibian inhabitants this year
I am hoping that once I move to a house with a garden I can make my own wildlife pond, I find nothing more relaxing than watching a pond with frogs or newts.



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Old 3rd March 2009   #7
Peter Parrot
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Default Re: Pond creation

Hi Kerry,

I will update the thread as I get the relevant pictures.

We have done a fair bit of work since the pictures in the last post, we are half way through building a large hibernaculum, as well as an egg laying site for grass snakes. Frogs have spawned in two of the pools, and we have also added some spawn from tractor tyre tracks a mere 50 yds away which were already nearly dried up. An interesting array of plants are starting to appear out of the mud now also, but it`s too early to tell what they are as yet as I am no botanist!

Here`s a little video clip in the meantime of some frogs breeding at another site about five miles away from the ponds as the crow flies, filmed by Mark, another of our ARG members;



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-w0amP4sjA



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Old 4th March 2009   #8
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Default Re: Pond creation

Interesting and very deserving job, respect. From my experience it`s very difficult to keep something like this fishfree for long time. Will the ponds dry out during the summer ? What is the depth of the deeper pond ?
thanks
j.



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Old 4th March 2009   #9
Peter Parrot
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Default Re: Pond creation

Some of the shallower ponds may or may not dry up in the summer, we have yet to find out.

The two deeper ponds are over a meter deep in places.



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Old 12th April 2009   #10
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Default Re: Pond creation

Ponds drying out for a while is no bad thing. Many creatures need such an enviroment.

Is your pond registered as part of the million ponds project?

If not it should be.

by the way-well done!



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Old 13th April 2009   #11
Skeeter
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Default Re: Pond creation

Very encouraging to see my friend!

Your doing good work.



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Old 30th December 2009   #12
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Default Re: Pond creation

Wow! This looks awesome!

What ended up happening over the summer? Did the ponds dry up?



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