One of the great things about working at (and visiting!) a nature reserve is that you are permanently meeting people with the same interests and passion for wildlife as you. That was particularly true of today where a group of enthusiastic individuals arrived from all corners of the county for a short (but very expert!) course on wildlife pond construction, maintenance and enjoyment. As a result most of my time today was spent either preparing for, leading, or tidying up from this course and I therefore have little news to report from the reserve itself, though if previous days are anything to go by at least some visitors will have seen at least one bittern from at least one of the hides!
The course itself, I am pleased to report, went well and was very favorably received, with all concerned inspired, enthused and equipped with the know-how to construct their own wildlife ponds in their gardens over the next 12 months and I am now looking forward to receiving updates and photographs from the participants as their projects progress and develop. It is quite a shocking statistic that over the course of the last century 3/4 of ponds in the U.K. were lost either through neglect, drainage or poor management and that today garden ponds account for 20% of all ponds in England and Wales.
It does finally seem as if winter is arriving in earnest after a long mild autumn – like me you can’t have failed to notice how the overnight dip in temperature has finally caused the tree chlorophyll to “die off” as the tree’s across the reserve (particularly along the Dockens Water) and across the countryside in general are now properly taking on their autumn splendor. The flip-side of this change in conditions was that today, for the first time that I am aware of this winter, the pond had a complete layer, albeit thin, of ice over it this morning, which did not bode well for the pond dipping scheduled in for the end of the course! Fortunately it had reduced (though still not disappeared completely) by early afternoon when we needed it, so we were able to enjoy the sight of the wealth of wildlife a good pond will support, though I’m not sure that everyone was quite as enthusiastic about getting their hands wet as they would have been had it been a little bit warmer!